The new travel authorization for Europe —that the EU-Lisa agency has been working on since 2016— is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2022, according to a representative of the European Commission.
The European travel authorization is known as ETIAS, which stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System. Previously announced launch dates include 2020, and, later on, 2021.
This new delay in the ETIAS timeline is made to allow all those involved time and resources to adapt to the new policy:
- Visitors that are currently granted visa-exempt entry in the Schengen Zone
- Schengen Border Control
The European Union continues to work tirelessly in order to ensure European interoperability, which will allow the ETIAS to seamlessly integrate with the EES, PNR, and other security travel systems.
ETIAS has multiple benefits for EU nationals and tourists alike. Once it is fully operational at the end of 2022, a 6-month grace period will begin.
ETIAS Grace Period
During these initial 6 months of the ETIAS, European authorities will inform third-country nationals about the new travel authorization. This will be done when they arrive at Schengen borders as well as when foreign nationals visit European embassies or consulates.
The ETIAS information will be printed on a leaflet to raise awareness and help travelers prepare for their upcoming trip to Europe.
Although the travel authorization will be available for eligible citizens during this timeframe, it is expected to be optional.
Travelers from visa-exempt countries will be able to apply online for an ETIAS before their trip. Nevertheless, those who fail to do so whilst fulfilling all the other EU entry requirements when they arrive at Schengen borders may exceptionally be granted entry during this 6-month ETIAS grace period.
Official European Commission sources have confirmed that a second grace period may be considered once the first 6 months of ETIAS conclude.
ETIAS Mandatory Entry Requirement for Europe
Once the grace period for ETIAS runs out, the visa waiver will become an obligatory entry document for all 26 countries that comprise the Schengen Area.
Travelers from currently visa-exempt countries will have to fill out an online application before their departure towards Europe. Once approved, the ETIAS will be sent to the applicant by email and remain electronically linked to their passport.
The ETIAS visa waiver for Europe will be mandatory for third-country nationals from visa liberalization countries visiting Schengen for short trips of up to 90 days.
Travelers arriving in the EU for any of the following purposes will have to carry an ETIAS from 2023 onwards:
- Leisure and tourism
- Medical treatment