The European Union Moves Forward with ETIAS, Europe’s Electronic Visa

In a significant step forward the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council backed the implementation of ETIAS, the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). It is expected to be fully operational by 2020.
Jun 12, 2017 Mark

Press Release ( - BARCELONA, Spain - Jun 12, 2017 - Visitors to the European Union who do not normally require a visa to enter the Schengen Area will soon have to apply for a travel authorization online through the European Travel and Information Authorisation System (ETIAS). In a major step toward implementing the ETIAS program and improving European security, the E.U. Justice and Home Affairs Council voted to formally adopt the new security measures on June 9, 2017.

The move comes after a series of terrorist attacks have rocked the continent in recent years, sparking debates over security measures and forcing officials to make substantial improvements toward screening the millions of visitors that arrive in Europe every year.

The citizens of nearly 60 countries do not currently need a visa to travel to Europe or to be admitted to the Schengen Area, composed of 26 countries. The expansive list includes the United States, Taiwan, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, and Canada. Under the proposed ETIAS program that was approved last Friday, the citizens of these visa-exempt countries would still be allowed to travel without a visa, but passengers would be screened prior to their arrival in the E.U.

How will ETIAS work?

ETIAS would be similar to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) program currently in place in the United States. Much like the ESTA system, all visitors from visa-exempt countries over the age of 18 would be required to file an online ETIAS application prior to traveling to the European Union. Authorities would then be able to cross-reference the information provided by passengers with other databases in Europe and around the world, improving the communication between police agencies.

The approved travel authorization allows for multiple entries in a period of 3 years. Under the proposed format, the ETIAS application would take about 10 minutes to complete.

While the European Parliament has yet to approve ETIAS, the vote by the Justice and Home Council last Friday was a significant step toward its eventual implementation.

Citing the recent terrorist attacks and the importance of improving control over Europe’s borders, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos and Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King also recognized the challenges of implementing such a system in a joint system.

“The Commission, together with the Council,” they said, “will continue to drive this work forward with a view to increasing interoperability of the EU’s information systems at every step of the way, in full respect of fundamental rights.”

The Commissioners also mentioned the benefits that the program will provide the EU in the future.

“ETIAS will allow us to gather advance information on persons travelling visa-free to the EU and to ensure that those who may pose a security risk are identified before they reach our borders,” they explained.

Given the urgency of the terrorism threat, proponents of implementing ETIAS are encouraging the Council and the European Parliament to reach an agreement as quickly as possible to ensure that the system is fully operational by 2020.

More information on ETIAS requirements at

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