There are many countries outside the European Union (EU) whose citizens migrate overseas to the Schengen Zone without a visa. Lately, security concerns have prompted the EU to consider the implementation of a new system to scan travelers. European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is that system.
ETIAS is a fully electronic system. It keeps track of visitors from the privileged countries exempted from needing a Schengen tourist visa or any other visa to enter the Schengen Zone. It does a detailed security screening of every visitor. It will then determine who all are eligible to enter any country belonging to the Schengen Zone. It acts like the US Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and serves a similar purpose.
The ETIAS travel authorization system will gather, track, and update the necessary data of visitors. Thus, it will decide if it’s safe for them to enter Schengen countries. The ETIAS will be used on visitors entering Schengen countries for tourist and business purposes. It’s also applicable to people visiting the Schengen countries for transit and medical reasons.
The legal procedures to pass the ETIAS started in 2016. It was expected to be in place by 2021. But a new development in this regard suggests otherwise. Now, it’s estimated that making ETIAS mandatory will not be done completely until 2023.
The European Commission (EC) official has stated that ETIAS will not be mandatory for at least the first year of its implementation. This will be so for most of the visa-free travelers to Schengen. The time will be spent on getting travelers and border security to adapt to ETIAS.
He said that for 6 months since the ETIAS starts operating, its use will be optional. Travelers may not be required to carry valid travel authorization too. This period could be extended to a maximum of another 6 months. This is a period that EU member states should use to inform third-country nationals crossing the borders to keep valid travel authorization. The authorization documents will be needed from the date of the expiry of the 6-month period.
To this end, a leaflet will be distributed by the EU member states to their consulates and the travelers. The consulates will be those that are in countries coming under the scope of this new regulation.
Upon expiry of this period, another 6 months will be allowed as a grace period. In this period, the possession of valid travel authorization will be made necessary. In this period, the border authorities will let third-country nationals across borders under the following conditions:
- They need travel authorization
- They may not be in possession of travel authorization
- They fulfill all other conditions to cross external borders
- They are crossing the external borders of the EU member states for the first time since the end of the period
With border authorities informing travelers required to carry valid travel authorization, the period could be extended for another 6 months if needed. Leaflets will be distributed to travelers. The leaflets will inform them
- How they are by privilege allowed to cross external borders even without possessing a valid travel authorization
- What the obligation is
The EC may, under Article 89, adopt a delegated act to extend the period further for a maximum of six months.
The EU may not stretch the transition and grace periods. In that case, the ETIAS will become necessary for every traveler to the Schengen Area. This will happen only in 2022.
Considering the sync between these and previous statements made about ETIAS, the scheme may be made fully operational only in 2022 if not 2023. It will coincide with the application of the Entry/Exit system at the EU borders.
The Entry/Exit System (EES) is established by the EU as a new scheme. It was founded for non-EU nationals, to register entry and exit data while crossing the external borders of EU member states. This was done to strengthen and protect the external borders of the Schengen area. The whole exercise will increase the security for its citizens.
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