On 25th April, European Union ambassadors finally reached an agreement between the European Council and the representatives of the European Union Parliament considering the implementation of European travel information and authorisation system, also known as ETIAS.
ETIAS will serve as an advance check for visa-exempt travellers who are travelling to the Schengen Area. To obtain the ETIAS, applicants will need to fill out an online application and pay the fee of €7. The ultimate goal of this online system is to either approve or refuse applications within 96 hours of applying.
The application will function as follows: once the person applies for the ETIAS, the application will automatically be reviewed and compared with the information gathered from the governments and Interpol. Once the application is approved, the person will be allowed to enter the Schengen Area, that is to the 22 EU member states and additional non-EU states (Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Iceland), for the next three years (or until the passport validity expires, whichever comes first).
Even though the traveller got their travel authorisation, at the end of the day the border officials are the ones who will either provide the right of entry or not. Not just that, but also the air and sea carriers, as well as buses, will need to verify whether their travellers hold ETIAS.
The main reason for the introduction of this travel authorisation system is the improvement of the national security and the supervision of travellers from visa-exempt countries. Since these nationals don’t need a regular visa and can travel freely throughout Europe, ETIAS will serve as a system of controlling who actually enters the Schengen Area.
“By knowing who is coming to the EU before they even arrive at the border, we will be better able to stop those who may pose a threat to our citizens”, said Valentin Radev, Bulgarian minister of interior, as stated in the official press release.
The next step is up to the European Parliament who needs to vote on ETIAS and after that, it will be forwarded to the European Council for adoption.
The European Union has a target date of 2020 for the full implementation of the ETIAS.
See more information on Schengen Visa Info.