THE VISA WAIVER PROGRAMME APPROVED BY THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT IN 2016 SEEMS TO BE TAKING SHAPE. ITS INTRODUCTION DATE HAS RECENTLY BEEN APPROVED BY THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION.
The main objective behind the approval of this programme was, among others, the improvement of European border security. Thus, the ETIAS authorisation will allow for the pre-screening of travellers from 60 countries that are currently exempt from a visa to enter the Schengen Area.
ETIAS was scheduled to be fully operational in 5 years, however, official European Commission sources confirm that the mandatory registration for travel authorisation will be delayed by another year.
In today’s blog post we will detail what the implications of the new European travel authorisation system are and what you need to consider from now on if you are a national of one of the countries involved.
What is ETIAS?
ETIAS is a travel authorisation system created by the European Union for those citizens who are currently exempt from applying for a visa to travel within the Schengen area.
This authorisation shall be a compulsory requirement for entry into Europe for tourists of eligible nationalities wishing to visit one of these countries for a stay of less than 90 days. The purpose of the visit shall be exclusively tourism and business.
Therefore, in order to reside in Europe, e.g. for work or long-term studies, a Schengen visa will still be required.
When will ETIAS become mandatory for travel to Europe?
The EU Commission foresees that the ETIAS system will not be operational until the end of 2022. Thus, it is most likely that mandatory registration for visa waiver will not come into force until 6 months later, with an optional application for the first 6 months.
However, the obligation that will fall on the Schengen countries will be to inform visa exempt travellers crossing the borders of the obligation to obtain ETIAS authorisation in the immediate future. Therefore, an information leaflet on the mandatory ETIAS registration will be handed out to travellers at border control points.
Periodo de gracia
It is also envisaged that after the end of the first 6 months of ETIAS implementation, an additional grace period of 6 months will come into play. Thus, the authorities will allow visa-exempt travellers to cross the external borders of the Schengen territory without an ETIAS. Note, however, that for this period to apply they must be crossing the border for the first time since the end of the first grace period.
It would be logical to adopt this measure which would allow travellers and border guards to comply with the new ETIAS requirements.
How will ETIAS work?
It should be noted that ETIAS will not be a visa, but an electronic authorisation in addition to the mandatory travel requirements for visa-free third countries.
This travel permit will be processed entirely online. To obtain it, the traveller must, in addition to having a valid passport, e-mail account and credit/debit card, fill in an electronic form on the website set up for this purpose, without having to go to any embassy or consulate.
In this electronic form, the applicant must indicate, on the one hand, personal data such as full name, date and place of birth, address, passport details, etc. and, on the other hand, must answer a series of questions on security and health, such as: criminal record, employment history, information on previous trips to Europe, etc. etc.
This information will be shared with major European and international databases, including Interpol and Europol.
Which countries will have to apply for ETIAS?
There are currently more than 60 countries eligible for the ETIAS European travel authorisation application. It should be noted that the European Union has an extensive list of countries whose citizens do not need a Schengen visa to visit countries, which means that they will be able to benefit from ETIAS in the near future.
In Latin America, as of today, the eligible countries would be: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Outside Latin America, they would also be citizens of: Canada, South Korea, the United States, Israel, the United Kingdom, Japan, Ukraine and the United States, among others.
Countries that do not appear on the final list of ETIAS-eligible countries must obtain a Schengen visa to travel both to Spain and to any country in the territory of free movement.
ETIAS will undoubtedly bring about a major change in travel to the European Union from third countries; once this system is fully operational, European authorities will be able to determine more effectively and efficiently whether or not a citizen is eligible to enter Schengen territory. The end result will undoubtedly be better control at external borders as well as enhanced travel security.
If you still have any doubts about this, Feliu has a team specialised in GlobalMobility; leave us your details and they will contact you to clarify any doubts you may have about the ETIAS authorisation and its processing.