European countries are planning to shake up how non-Europeans enter and exit the region in two major schemes—one of which is now delayed but both will be operational by November 2023. This will impact all non-EU travelers to the region, who will need to register before they travel to be allowed entry—here’s what travelers need to know.
The European Entry And Exit Scheme Is Delayed Until November 2023
One of the new schemes is the EES, the European Entry and Exit scheme which impacts people traveling into the Schengen zone. This zone is currently comprised of EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. However, some EU countries will not be in the scheme in its first iteration, such as Ireland and Cyprus.
There will be two major changes to entry and exit of Europe under this scheme:
- In addition to the information in passports, the system will take biometric data (fingerprints and facial images) and store them for future reference for up to 3 years—in much the same way as the U.S. currently does.
- Instead of passport stamps—which can be time-consuming as dates have to be checked manually—the system will automatically record exactly when someone entered the country, so it will automatically know if they have overstayed their welcome.
At present, it is very difficult to tell if someone has outstayed their visa but the new system will automatically start the clock once people enter the Schengen area—most travelers in France, for example, are allowed to stay 90 days without a visa, over a 180-day period, which is more than enough time for most holidays.
The first plan was to introduce the EES in 2022, then it was pushed back to May and now it has been delayed until November 2023. These delays are reportedly due to the fact that officials need more time to get e-gates and other controls ready via private contractors.
The delays have been met with approval by officials on the ground, who agree that more time is needed.
A joint statement from the European region of Airports Council International (ACI), Airlines for Europe (A4E), the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said approvingly that “the EES will be a game changer for how the EU’s borders are managed. There are, however, a number of issues which must be resolved to ensure a smooth roll out and operation of the new system so that air passengers do not face disruptions.”
After the major setbacks faced by the travel industry in 2022, the delayed start means that the summer won’t face another hurdle to get people to and from their holiday destinations. Aside from the additional resources that airlines and airports still need to put aside to deal with the EES once it is in operation, there also needs to be an awareness campaign to prepare travelers for the new changes.
The ETIAS Project Is On Track To Start In 2023
The second new scheme is called the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and will oblige visitors from outside Europe to apply for a visa-waiver before arriving:
- you will need an ETIAS form if you are visiting any of the 26 Schengen area countries. That means Austria, Belgium, the 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.
- There are 5 EU countries that are not currently in the ETIAS scheme–Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania, where travelers will not need to apply before entry.
- it will cost €7 per registration but much like the ESTA, it will last for a set period of time, in this case 3 years, for anyone visiting between the ages of 18 and 70. If someone’s passport expires within the three years, they would need to apply for a new ETIAS visa-waiver document.
- travelers from 63 countries will need to apply for an ETIAS form before arriving in a Schengen area country, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the U.S., the U.K. and the UAE.
- people can apply directly when it goes live on the European Commission website.
Reports suggest that whilst the ETIAS is due to be operational from November 2023, there will be a six-month period of implementation where EU countries can have some time to get up and running to the new changes.