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Travel & Tracking in the Schengen Area: Upcoming Changes

This article was originally published on 28 December 2021 and was updated on 1 March 2023 to reflect new information.  

2 March 2023 Update:  The European Commission announced that its implementation of the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) will be delayed until early 2024 due to implementation procedures with the responsible service providers.  

This article was originally published on 28 December 2021 and was updated on 12 August 2022 and 27 January 2023 to reflect new information.   

23 January 2023 Update: The European Commission announced that the launch of the border Entry/Exit System, known as EES, will be delayed until November 2023. Previously, the system was expected to be introduced in late 2022 and then was delayed until May 2023.

According to the announcement, the full system may also not be completed at this time. Rather, the Commission expected it to be rolled out in individual phases. Authorities shared that delaying the introduction of the system should ensure a smoother rollout.

The European Travel Information and Authorization System, known as ETIAS, is expected to become fully effective in November 2023. Once fully implemented, ETIAS will become a mandatory pre-condition for visa-exempt nationals from outside the European Union (EU) to enter any Schengen member state.

Once the system is live, foreign nationals who do not require a visa to enter the Schengen Area and who reside in a country outside of the EU, noted here as third-country nationals, will be required to register their travel through the ETIAS. Work authorization requirements in each member state are also expected to be assessed prior to any entry into the Schengen Area, when applicable.

Background and Considerations

The European Commission expressed concerns over the lack of comprehensive security and background information on visa-exempt third-country nationals who enter and travel throughout any of the 26 countries that comprise the Schengen Area. In response to these concerns, the Commission conceptualized the ETIAS in April 2016. Since then, ETIAS has undergone several years of negotiation and revisions.

Through the system, the Commission aims to better identify and harmonize efforts to curb security threats within member states, target irregular migration, and address pandemic-related concerns posed by visa-exempt visitors traveling to the Schengen Area. Another consideration relates to easing movement for travelers who do not pose an identified risk by collecting travel documents prior to this group crossing into the Schengen Area.

Who is Impacted?

Travelers residing from outside of the EU from 60 different visa-exempt countries will need to acquire ETIAS authorization prior to entering the Schengen Area once the system is active. This will apply to individuals for all travel purposes, including for business and leisure activities.

How Does It Work?

ETIAS authorization will allow third-country visa-exempt nationals to enter the Schengen Area for short-term stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period. ETIAS authorization will permit multiple entries into the Schengen Area and will remain valid for a maximum period of three years before the traveler must re-register.

Application Process

Visa-exempt third-country nationals will be required to pre-register their travel via an official website or through a mobile app, where they will provide personal information and passport details. In turn, this is expected to simplify document check protocols at Schengen border entrances. These individuals will also be required to pay a fee of €7 and answer health and security questions.

Once the initial application is filed, the ETIAS will conduct background checks against several international databases for any security or health risks. In most cases, a travel authorization is expected within minutes of the application being filed. In cases where additional checks are needed, the issuing of the travel authorization could take up to 30 days. These cases will be examined manually by the ETIAS Central and National Units.

If the application is denied, the individual will be provided with justification for the denial but will be eligible to apply for a Schengen visa through an embassy or consulate. The individual will also have the option to appeal the decision with the ETIAS Central Unit.

How to Avoid ETIAS Visa Waiver Refusal

  • Double-check all the provided information within the initial application. This includes any spelling and numbers.
  • Provide the name as it appears on the applicant’s passport.
  • Accurately answer all ETIAS criminal record questions.
  • Complete all required health information.
  • Ensure all the questions are answered completely and no blank spaces are left on the form.
  • Do not overstay the maximum permitted stay on any trips to Europe or the Schengen Area

Looking Ahead

The system is scheduled to go into effect by November 2023 and will change how visa-exempt foreign nationals travel to the Schengen Zone and even several member states of the European Union. Continue to check Envoy’s website and the European Commission’s website for additional updates and information.

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Content in this publication is for informational purposes only and not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an attorney at one of the two U.S. Law Firms working with the Envoy Platform or another qualified professional. On non-U.S. immigration issues, consult an Envoy global immigration service provider or another qualified representative.