What is the change? The European Council has adopted a regulation that puts in place an electronic travel information and authorization system, or ETIAS, for visa-waived non-EU nationals.

What does the change mean? Visa-waived third-country nationals will be required to register for an electronic authorization before traveling to the Schengen Area by applying online and paying a government fee of €7. The authorization would be valid for three years unless the traveler’s passport expires earlier.

  • Implementation time frame: The ETIAS system is expected to be operational by 2021.
  • Who is affected: Third-country nationals who are visa-waived to Schengen Area countries.
  • Business impact: The system will add another step for visa-waived nationals, but should facilitate security checks at borders since they will be prescreened.
  • Next steps: The European Council and Parliament must formally sign the regulation, which will be published in the EU Official Journal and take effect 20 days thereafter.

Background: The electronic travel authorization system, similar to ESTA in the U.S. and eTA in Canada, is intended to provide another layer of security for countries that waive visas for certain nationals. Applicants will be able to apply online through the ETIAS; their personal information will then be compared against Interpol and EU databases. If there are no matches, the ETIAS will be issued automatically; if there is a match, the application must be processed manually within 96 hours. The ETIAS does not provide a right of entry, and border guards make the final decision on admission. Air and sea carriers will also be required to check if passengers have their travel authorization before boarding.

Analysis & comments: Visa-waived nationals traveling to the Schengen Area should anticipate the new system by 2021. EU, EEA and Swiss citizens will not be affected by the system, and visa-required nationals will still be required to apply for a visa at a consulate.

Source: Deloitte LLP. Deloitte LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC303675 and its registered office at 1 New Street Square, London EC4A 3HQ, United Kingdom.