In 2016, the European Commission was proposing solutions to improve the security by pre-screening travellers entering EU member countries. This was in response to a spate of terrorist threats and attacks that damaged some EU citizens’ lives. That is where the suggested ETIAS, or a European visa waiver, has become the primary mechanism whereby the bloc hopes to gain greater security, oversight as well as a new source of revenue. As a member of the EU, Italy will also implement the ETIAS as part of it's screening for travellers entering the country.
What will ETIAS change when entering Italy?
Currently, the citizens of a large number of non-EU countries, such as the United States and Canada, are not required to get a visa to enter the Schengen area. The ETIAS is designed for the nationals of what the E.U. calls "third-countries". Before ETIAS, EU member countries were not aware of these travellers until they arrived at the border. ETIAS would make the visitor from a third country register information in relation to their visit online before arriving at the border of the EU country.
The European Commission stated that it would give more confidence to border guards when they see these visitors at their borders. Also a secondary motive would be to assist law enforcement agencies who are given the responsibility of combating crime and terrorism. It might mean that each time you wish to visit Europe, you may have to go online and apply for the ETIAS. The cost of the ETIAS will be €7. Each ETIAS will be valid for a period of 3 years or the date of passport expiry, whichever date occurs sooner.
What other countries operate a similar checking system?
The most well known is the USA ESTA. The Electronic System for Travel Authorisation attracts a $21 fee and requires that quite a detailed application be completed. If successful, the ESTA remains current for 2 years. Similar to the proposed ETIAS but visitors still are fingerprinted and photographed at the border. The ESTA was initiated following the September 11th attacks.
One of the differences between the ETIAS visa waiver and the ESTA is that the newer European version is likely to affect many more countries and people than the ESTA. Also, there will be a database packed with information about travellers which never existed before.
Turkey and Canada have brought in similar online eVisa or electronic travel authorisation schemes.
How will ETIAS provide a revenue boost to the EU?
Favourable financial gains are likely for EU countries when the ETIAS goes ahead and generate revenues which will likely match what the U.S. is collecting for ESTA. Estimates point to gains in the billions which will give a much needed boost to the EU budget over time. It appears that apart from the need to tighten up security on European borders the financial inducement from collecting revenue from those that wish to travel to Europe is promising too.
The EU may benefit from its revenue raising efforts but will Italy and other favourite holiday destinations lose tourists as a result of the clampdown? Many people choose holiday destinations which are both safe and are easy to travel too, but with the possibility of a visa waiver, tourists that either visit regularly or wish to visit these destinations may simply change their minds and opt for destinations with less red tape. Citizens of countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Britain will require an ETIAS when the system is launched in 2024.
Whatever the outcome of these changes it is likely that EU citizens may feel safer knowing that visitors are being checked before they enter their country. However, those people who have invested in holiday homes in Europe may be worried, if for some reason or another they are not granted an ETIAS and find that they are unable to spend their summer vacation in their investment. Others may have relatives they visit regularly and have never needed to plan their visit but hop on a plane and go.
Why should I visit Italy?
Despite the additional task of applying for an ETIAS, visitors to Italy can expect a rich experience, that has developed over centuries.
The history of Italy is long and complex, spanning more than two thousand years. Italy has been a major European power since the Middle Ages, and a leading country in world affairs since the Renaissance.
There are many things to do in Italy, including visiting historical sites, enjoying the food and wine, and exploring the countryside. Some popular tourist attractions include visiting the Colosseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the canals of Venice. Italy is also home to many beautiful beaches, ancient ruins, and art museums. The best time to visit Italy is in the late spring or early fall when the weather is mild and there are fewer tourists.