The ETIAS initials comes from the words European Travel Information and Authorization System. It is an electronic authorization system for visitors travelling to European countries from non EU- countries that currently don’t need a visa to enter the Schengen area for example Canada.
Travellers wishing to enter the Schengen countries from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States with more than 50 other countries, will soon be required to carry a valid electronic Visa; ETIAS. The Schengen area consists of 26 European countries that form an alliance in purpose of having free movement of Schengen nationals inside the Schengen area. Inside the Schengen area, there are 22 countries that are part of the European Union, while four countries remain out of membership with the EU but construct the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). The European Union is launching this authorization system to emphasize safety on borders of the Schengen countries and to decline passengers entering and visiting these countries if they are considered a risk to the security. The automatic electronic authorization system will recognize and handle possible security threats and problems before they even happen. ETIAS resembles the Canada’s Electronic System for travel Authorization (eTA- visa waiver system).
The purpose and idea behind the European ETIAS is to work as an electronic visa for travellers by gathering and collecting information on travellers. It assembles a central database to detect alerts on specific individuals, allowing more detailed security control. Every citizen travelling from visa-free countries like Canada are required to hold a valid ETIAS visa before boarding an aircraft.
Once granted, the electronic visa will allow an ETIAS holder to stay in the Schengen country or area up to 90 days. The electronic authorization will be valid for 3 years or until the expiry date of the passenger’s passport, depending which of these are coming to an end first.
Travellers that wish to enter and visit the European countries and Schengen area can apply for the ETIAS Visa online. The application is simple, fast and is all done online. In order to fill in the application form you will need your valid passport, a debit or credit card and an existing email address. The whole process of the application and registration will only last about 20 minutes. When applying the ETIAS visa, the system will collect basic information from the traveller. Those include; name, country of residency, date of birth and other basic background information. After the application form is completed the applicant must pay the electronic payment and submit the form for registration. Once submitted, the system will check that all the information is correct and there aren’t any alerts or possible security threats regarding the passenger. When the application successfully goes through the screening, an electronic authorization is issued.
The predicted cost of the European ETIAS is 7 €. If you are travelling in a group, all members of the group need to obtain a valid ETIAS visa. Passengers under the age of 12 are excluded from the processing fee of 5 €.
The European Union initiated this new and extensive project in order to help protect the exterior borders and increase safety on borders inside Europe. The development of this program first started five years ago but since then, the process has taken an increasing speed due to the higher level of terrorist attack threat in Europe. ETIAS is still under further development but it will be in full use by 2021. The electronic system will be able to pre-screen passengers before entering a plane due to the access to individual passenger information. This prevents any passengers without ETIAS visa to enter the Schengen countries.
When it’s fully activated it will be mandatory for travellers travelling to Europe from non- EU countries to carry the European ETIAS authorization. The authorization works by screening the information of the passenger, checking that the authorization to enter the country is granted and strictly examining the data in contrast to the security database. All citizens of the countries that have visa-free access to Schengen area are eligible for applying European ETIAS. For instance, if you are a Canadian citizen you are automatically qualified for the application.
The system will update and speed up border control, prevent possible identity and document frauds by giving a better protection to the travellers. With the new authorization program the vast mobility of travellers in Europe is still ensured but with a higher level of security on borders. The main idea behind the electronic authorization system is to spot potential threats and dangers among the travellers to the Schengen countries. The automatic system will control prior checks for the sake of regulating whether to grant or refuse a request to travel to the EU.
The European Union is taking all the necessary actions to make its countries safe as possible for the citizens and for the travellers.
The European ETIAS will reduce significantly the time spent for application process and it will also make the border control faster and better, catching possible crime and terrorism threats, preventing irregular immigration and strengthening the free European visa protocol. This new electronic authorization system will provide a progressive way of travelling across Europe with an expanded security protection, making travelling safer and enjoyable to all.