The European Parliament has approved the final agreement to implement ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System). It is estimated that the new scheme will become operational in 2021.

Of the 609 who voted, 494 voted in favour of approving ETIAS. The aim of ETIAS is to strengthen security in the region and to streamline the process of issuing travel authorization to enter the Schengen Area.

Commissioner King said: "Our police officers and border guards need to have the right tools to do their jobs - keeping our citizens safe and our borders secure. ETIAS will pre-screen visa-free visitors for potential security problems.”

Once ETIAS become operational, travelers going to the Schengen Area will need to enroll with ETIAS by completing an online form. The information they provide will be cross-checked against several security databases.

“The new ETIAS will ensure that we no longer have an information gap on visa-free travellers. Anyone who poses a migratory or security risk will be identified before they even travel to EU borders,” Commissioner Avramopoulos said.

The Guiding Principles of ETIAS

The European Union have agreed on a few key principles which will be at the heart of the implementation of ETIAS.

  • Affordable: Applicants will have to pay a reasonable one-off fee using a credit or debit card to submit the online application.
  • Fast and simple: Completing the application should not take more than 10 minutes and automatic approval will be given in over 95% of cases.
  • Effective: All the information provided will be cross-checked against numerous EU data systems including Europol and Interpol.
  • Clear and fair: When authorization is refused, the applicant will need to be informed about the decision within 96 hours. Applicants will always have the right to appeal refusals.

ETIAS Regulation enters in full force

The European Parliament and Council Regulations 2018/1240 and 2018/1241 , published in the EU Office Journal mid-September following the European Council adoption of the ETIAS regulation, entered in full force the past October 9th, 2018.

Following the implementation of these regulations, the EU Agency eu-LISA can now begin to develop the ETIAS system and building the platform for future eligible travelers. The ETIAS system will be an essential tool to contribute to the security of the Schengen Area. This agency is specialized in the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the freedom, security and justice sectors.

With the European Parliament's final agreement to the implementation of ETIAS this past July, the next logical step was to move forward with the Parliament and Council Regulations. The eu-LISA now has the green light to develop the electronic travel information and authorization system.

ETIAS is expected to be operational in the year 2021. When the system is launched, travelers from 62 visa exempt countries will be required to have a valid ETIAS to visit the Schengen Area.

The Making of ETIAS

In 2016, President Juncker highlighted the need to address the shortcomings in how EU data management systems work. He announced that the European Commission would propose the creation of ETIAS, an automated system for pre-checking travelers before they enter the Schengen Area.

He said that the new system would respect fundamental rights as well as data protection. The legislative proposal was made in November 2016 and became a political priority. The most recent vote approves the subsequent agreements which were made between the European Parliament and the European Council.

The next step towards the implementation of ETIAS will be for the Council to give official approval. The President of the European Parliament and the rotating Presidency of the Council to sign the texts into law.

What will travelers need to do before going to the Schengen Area?

After the implementation of ETIAS, all non-EU citizens will need to enroll with ETIAS before traveling to any of the 26 Schengen countries. The ETIAS application will require applicants to enter a range of information such as their full name, address, date of birth, and passport details.

There will also be some security and health-related questions. The application process will take a a matter of minutes and, if approved, the ETIAS travel authorization will be send to the applicant electronically.

Travelers will then be able to enter any of the Schengen countries by presenting their ETIAS document along with their passport. There are no hard borders between Schengen countries, there is a singular, shared external border.