The European Union (EU) will launch a digital initiative to optimize passenger migration and safety. Every tourist able to arrive visa-free in countries within the EU will need to process this new digital travel permit. The platform that generates this permit, called ETIAS, will essentially show immigration authorities when a passenger does not represent a health or safety risk for the country they are visiting.
By 2021, citizens from countries with a visa-free travel treaty with the EU will need ETIAS authorization prior to their trips. But which countries does this change affect and how can its citizens apply for authorization?
One of the advantages of the European Union is the possibility of crossing the borders of any UE country hassle-free, for tourism or business purposes, with a EU passport or a Schengen visa. In addition, the EU has treaties with 62 countries in the world – 15 of them in Latin America – that allow their citizens to enter the EU without a visa. How can immigration authorities control the flow of passengers from these countries without creating inconvenience or delays?
The European Commission approved its proposed solution last April, called ETIAS or European Travel Information and Authorization System. This system, developed by eu-LISA, goes into effect in 2021 and represents recent technological trends – such as KDTI or ESTA – the goal of which is to simplify the necessary documentation for crossing international borders without reducing security.
ETIAS verifies individuals in its registry with various databases such as those of EURODAC or INTERPOL to analyze their background and pre-approve their access to the EU. ETIAS authorization does not guarantee entry to Europe, but it makes the immigration process much smoother.
What may seem like an unnecessary bureaucratic obstacle is actually an elegant solution for both European governments and travelers. ETIAS assists EU countries in preventing criminal activity and impede irregular migration. For passengers, it represents a vote of confidence that accelerates their entry into Europe and saves them time.
The only prerequisite for an ETIAS permit is to have a valid passport, preferably biometric. The ETIAS form will take 10 minutes to complete online. The application fee, only seven euros per person, is low compared to the cost of a Schengen visa (people under 18 and over 70 are exempt from payment). The process does not require visiting a consulate. Approval will take only minutes in most cases.
Each ETIAS authorization is valid for three years as long as the passport used has not expired. Authorization allows you to stay in Europe, whether on tourism or business, for a maximum period of 90 days.
Who Needs ETIAS and How to Apply
Citizens of countries that have visa-free travel agreements with the EU require this authorization, but EU citizens do not. There are several online tools where tourists can check if they require ETIAS authorization or a Schengen visa to travel to the EU.
ETIAS does not yet accept authorization requests. The official launch date and form will be revealed on the European Union’s official website.