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European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) explained

Travelers heading to Europe should read up on this well before they go.

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If you’re heading to Europe next year, you should take the time to read up on the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). The new visa-waiver style authorization system will apply to residents from 59 countries who have previously been able to cross the border visa-free, when the program launches in 2024.  

It was designed by the EU to address terrorism and migration issues, tightening up borders and working to make travel within the member countries safer.

What is the ETIAS and how does it work?  

ETIAS is a fully electronic process that allows and keeps track of visitors from those countries who aren’t required to have a visa to enter the Schengen Zone. The system, which is similar to the one used in the United States, ESTA, is expected to be fully operational some time in 2024, although an official start date has not yet been named. The visa-waiver, if given, will be valid for three years. Travelers will be asked to apply online, then each applicant will undergo a detailed security check to determine their status for entry into any of the Schengen Zone countries. Passport holders of 59 countries who can currently travel visa-free, will need to apply for the ETIAS.

ETIAS works to identify any security threats via the system which will gather information, track and update data relating to a specific visitor to determine their suitability for entry in the EU.

Other benefits of the system? 

Along with decreasing security concerns and detecting potential threats, it is expected that the new ETIAS will also help:

  • ​​Reduce procedures and application times

  • Improve the management of EU country borders

  • Assist in detecting and decreasing crime and terrorism

  • Impede irregular migration

  • Reinforce the visa liberalisation policy of the EU

ETIAS countries – if you’re heading to these countries, or travelling through them, make sure you’ve got your ETIAS visa

The European countries that will require travellers to hold a valid ETIAS upon arrival at their borders are:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

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Aurelie Menard,
Emergency Assistance, World Nomads

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