One of the most widely-anticipated changes is the emergence of the ETIAS, which is also known as the European Travel Information and Authorization System.
This new system is poised to save time by improving border crossings, better secure the European Union with background checks, and mitigate other risks.
However, there are still many questions regarding the ETIAS visa waiver, the new Entry-Exit System, and the agency that oversees the entire process. Here’s what you need to know about each one:
What is the eu-LISA agency?
Perhaps the best way to start learning about the ETIAS program is to look at its foundation. The eu-LISA’s name offers some clues to its function, as it is better known as The European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security, and Justice.
This agency is headquartered in Tallinn, Estonia, and was created in 2011 to house large IT systems and databases that contribute to the operational management and security of the European Union.
An interesting fact is that eu-LISA was the agency that developed the ETIAS in the first place and is continually working to improve its functionality. As the agency notes, “eu-LISA ensures that Europe’s freedom, security and justice management systems are safeguarded for generations to come.”
What is the ETIAS and what does it do?
The ETIAS is, at its core, a pre-screening program for foreign travelers who wish to enter the European Union. It was originally invented around 2016 by the European Commission and formally approved at the end of 2018.
The ETIAS will come into effect on January 1st, 2023. What does this mean for travelers?
For starters, citizens of more than 60 countries who have visa-free agreements with the Schengen Zone will need to obtain an ETIAS before being allowed entry.
This means that citizens of countries like Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong, Israel, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States of America will need to apply for an ETIAS.
Thankfully, the process is quite simple and quick. Travelers can apply for their ETIAS over the internet, and it should only take about 15 minutes to go through the whole process.
There are a handful of basic questions asking about the applicant’s full name, nationality, date of birth, passport details, and contact information. There is also a special section that requires applicants to detail their education, employment history, medical conditions, criminal background, and past trips to Europe.
After the application is completed and submitted, the information will be screened across various international databases such as Interpol, Europol, EURODAC, and so on. This is part of the European Union’s initiative to secure its borders, both for residents and visitors.
Once the processing is complete and everything checks out, applicants will get their approved ETIAS in their email inbox. The best part of the ETIAS is that it is valid for three years and multiple entries. Travelers may enter the Schengen Zone as many times as they wish within this period of time as long as their ETIAS and passport are valid, and that it is within a 90 day time period (out of 180 days).
The Entry-Exit System
Now that we have a better understanding of the eu-LISA and the ETIAS, it’s time to learn how the new systems will be implemented.
The Entry-Exit System, also shortened to EES, is a system of initiatives that work together with the ETIAS. This enormous IT system is set to modernize the borders of the Schengen Zone by carefully monitoring every traveler that enters the region.
Another interesting point to note is that citizens of countries who require a Schengen visa will need to register at the Entry – Exit System manually once they arrive at the border. A partial list of travelers from the following countries will need to do so: China, Indonesia, Kuwait, India, Saudi Arabia. Qatar, and Turkey, among others.
Those who are traveling to the Schengen Zone with a valid ETIAS will enjoy a much more streamlined procedure. The entire process is autonomous and does not require any interaction with border guards.
Once the traveler is at the border, they will need to approach an EES device, swipe or scan their biometric passport, and have their photo taken. Once this is complete and the system has verified the traveler, they are allowed to enter the Schengen Zone.
As noted above, the Entry-Exit System is a groundbreaking new way of reducing queues for both travelers, locals, and airport staff. It’s especially beneficial for casual tourists who don’t want to spend hours waiting in long lines to gain entry.
Best of all, the new system will no longer stamp passports, which means there are more blank pages for intrepid travelers.