The ETIAS visa waiver for Europe aims to heighten security measures in Europe improving border control and managing migration by creating the ETIAS travel authorization system which will collect and review information on travelers to Europe.

The ETIAS visa waiver will be a requirement for non-EU citizens who do not currently need a visa to enter the EU.

What is the ETIAS process?

How can you get an ETIAS visa waiver? When the ETIAS process is fully functional, travelers wishing to enter the Schengen area will simply need to complete an online application which will take no longer than 10 minutes with their personal information, submitting a copy of their travel document and by answering some security questions.

Once the applicant has submitted their completed ETIAS application form and paid the fee, they will receive their approved ETIAS travel authorization via email which is then valid for 3 years or until the applicant’s passport or corresponding travel document expires, whichever comes first.

Who’s behind ETIAS?

To better understand the ETIAS initiative, it is beneficial to know the key players in the ETIAS structure including those who administrate the online system, the bodies responsible for reviewing ETIAS applications, organizations consulted regarding security checks etc.

This system known as ETIAS for Europe will concern itself with the security of the Schengen zone and intends to gather information about travelers thus various governing bodies compose the the ETIAS structure.

The organization of ETIAS will be managed by several entities made up of the following:

  • ETIAS Central Unit - This is the headquarters of ETIAS which will store data recorded in applications and maintain up-to-date information about travelers. They will also be responsible for evaluating the ETIAS screening rules and requirements.

  • ETIAS National Units - There will be an ETIAS national unit for each member state in order to process the applications that are referred to them through the automatic system to grant or refuse the ETIAS EU visa waiver.

  • Europol - This institution will control the ETIAS watchlist which will be consulted for every application.

  • eu-LISA - This is the entity that manages the ETIAS Information System.

  • ETIAS Screening Board - Made up of representatives from Europol and each ETIAS National Unit, the role of the Screening Board will be to evaluate risk indicators for the ETIAS screening rules and impose the ETIAS watchlist.

  • European Border and Coast Guard Agency - Work alongside the ETIAS Central Unit to ensure the practises and ETIAS restrictions are implemented as required.

ETIAS security check

When applying for the ETIAS EU visa waiver, the information that each traveler introduces will be subjected to a security check which will include the following European security databases:

  • SLTD: Interpol Stolen and Lost Travel Documents
  • Europol
  • SIS: Schengen Information System
  • VIS: Visa Information System
  • Eurodac
  • ECRIS: European Criminal Records Information System
  • EES: Entry/Exit System
  • TDAWN: Interpol Travel Documents Associated with Notices

As well as the two ETIAS security databases: the ETIAS Screening Rules and the ETIAS watchlist.

With a hit on any of these databases, the ETIAS application could be refused and the deciding entity does not have to give a justification when notifying the applicant. However the traveler has the right to appeal the ETIAS denial.

With this ETIAS structure, the member states of the Schengen zone will grow their databases and be able to offer a more organized system for travelers around Europe and even a faster entrance system.