The new travel authorisation 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.
This European visa waiver is known as ETIAS, which stands for European Travel Information and Authorisation System. Previously announced launch dates include 2020, and, later on, 2021.
This new delay in the ETIAS timeline has been announced 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 authorisation. 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 travellers prepare for their upcoming trip to Europe.
Although the travel authorisation will be available for eligible citizens during this timeframe, it is expected to be optional.
Travellers 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.
Travellers 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 liberalisation countries visiting Schengen for short trips of up to 90 days.
Travellers arriving in the EU for any of the following purposes will have to carry an ETIAS from 2023 onwards:
- Leisure and tourism
- Medical treatment
It is important to note that the ETIAS is not a visa and, as such, will not involve a lengthy application process at an embassy. It is simply an additional entry requirement for nationals of visa-exempt countries travelling to the Schengen Area and can be acquired quickly and easily by registering the individual’s details online.