What is the change? The European Commission on Wednesday proposed a new electronic screening system, the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), for visa-waived travelers.

What does the change mean? The system would require visa-waived travelers to register their information online, pay a €5 fee, and obtain an electronic travel authorization before traveling to the Schengen Area.

  • Implementation time frame: Target implementation is 2020.
  • Visas/permits affected: Visa waivers to the Schengen Area.
  • Who is affected: Non-EU nationals who are eligible to travel visa-free to the Schengen Area.
  • Impact on processing times: In most cases, the electronic travel authorization would be granted the same day, but could take 72 hours if the traveler’s information matches any of the security triggers. According to the proposal, in rare circumstances, a decision could take up to two weeks.
  • Business impact: Visa-exempt travelers would have an added cost and administrative steps before travel.
  • Next steps: The proposal must be adopted by the European Parliament and the European Council.

Background: The ETIAS, modeled after the U.S. Electronic System for Travel Authorization, is intended to screen visa-waived travelers against various databases to better monitor and track visitors who are visa-exempt.

Under the proposal, travelers must fill out an online application for an electronic travel authorization, which would be valid for multiple entries for a period of five years or until the traveler’s passport expires. It may be revoked if the individual’s conditions no longer apply.

B·A·L Analysis: The ETIAS is not a visa and does not change Schengen visa policy. The proposal is in step with similar electronic travel authorization systems in Australia and the U.S. and the recently launched eTA system in Canada. U.K. nationals are reminded that if the U.K. leaves the EU in 2019, they are likely to be subject to the ETIAS system for business and holiday travel as non-EU nationals (unless the U.K. and EU agree upon some degree of free movement in Brexit negotiations).

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact uk@bal.com.

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