Who will need Etias to travel in Europe? all you need to know

Brexit has brought many changes for UK travellers, from passport validity requirements to overseas data roaming. And from November 2023, there is a new form holidaymakers will need to complete to enter certain European countries.

Known as the European Travel Information and Authorization System (Etias), the extra step is designed to pre-screen visitors for security purposes. There is a €7 fee and, once approved, the authorization document will last for up to three years.

The Etias is still in development – having already been delayed – which means details of how it will work will be released gradually. Here’s what we know about it so far.

Main photo: Visitors will need Etias authorization to enter the Schengen States and certain other countries from November 2023 (Getty Images)

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What is Etias and how can I apply for it?

When the UK left the EU, it became one of more than 60 countries whose citizens must go through Etias approval before travelling.

The system was first proposed in November 2016 by the European Commission. The idea was to create a digital verification system to “identify security, irregular migration or high epidemic risks posed by visa-exempt visitors to Schengen states”.

A Schengen visa: the Etias procedure aims to be cheaper and faster for visitors (Alamy)

The Schengen States are 26 countries in Europe that have agreed an open border with each other. This currently includes: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. In addition, Etias applications will also be required when visiting Croatia, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania.

The Etias is not considered a visa, according to the EU, in part because it is cheaper, faster and easier to apply. You don’t need to go to an embassy to submit your application, for example, and you don’t need to share as much information, such as your biometrics. All you have to do is fill out a form before you travel, pay a fee, and you should receive your clearance. See below for details.

How it works?

The system should in theory work in the same way as the Esta which is used to enter the United States and the eTA to enter Canada. The “largely automated IT system” will have a digital application form for you to complete. This will be made available on an official website as well as a mobile app. The form should take no more than ten minutes and you will only need your passport or similar travel document.

Once completed, your details will be checked against databases held by EU countries, including immigration and Interpol. In 95% of cases, you should get travel authorization within minutes. This will last for up to three years, although it can be revoked at any time.

Passport, sunglasses… and you will also need Etias
Passport, sunglasses… and you will also need Etias (Getty Images)

The EU predicts that between 3 and 4% of applications will have to be verified manually, which could take up to 96 hours; between one and two percent of applicants may require additional verification, which can take up to four weeks, with the final decision communicated by email. If you are rejected, you will have the right to appeal.

Before boarding your flight, train or other mode of transport, you may be asked to check whether you have an Etias authorization to travel. Upon arrival at border control, your Etias authorization will be checked alongside your passport or other travel documents, but you should then be exempt from passing through as usual, assuming all other requirements are met.

How much does Etias cost?

Although anyone traveling under the visa-free arrangement is required to apply for an Etias authorization, for applicants between the ages of 18 and 70, a €7 fee is required. This money will go to the EU and help finance Etias. If you are traveling with a visa, for example for work, you will not need it.

Travelers will be able to apply for Etias via a mobile application
Travelers will be able to apply for Etias via a mobile application (Getty Images)

When does it start?

Originally planned to be launched in 2021, the Etias is now expected to be operational by November 2023. A transition period will be applied once it is launched. As it is still under development, the official website and app have not been launched yet.

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