The launch date of the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) has been delayed to 2024, as reflected on the official ETIAS website. The date of entry into operation of ETIAS is not yet known, but it is expected to be announced at the end of 2023, according to the European Commission Migration and Home Affairs.

Since early-2016, the European Union (EU) has been working to modernize EU border management through a system such as ETIAS to avoid bureaucracy and delays for travelers, as well as to improve security. ETIAS was initially expected to go into effect in 2021, which was later delayed until 2023. Now, it is slated to launch in 2024.

Similar to U.S. ESTA, ETIAS travel authorization is an entry requirement for visa-exempt nationals travelling to any of 30 European countries for a short-term stay for up to 90 days within any 180-day period. Citizens of countries that currently have visa-free access to the EU (for short stays for business or tourism) who are not travelling on an EU passport will have to apply for ETIAS travel authorization once the ETIAS becomes operational. Among many others, citizens of the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as citizens of Australia and Canada, will need to register with ETIAS before traveling to the EU. Dual citizens who enter Europe with an EU passport will not need to use ETIAS. ETIAS does not replace Schengen visas for those who need one to enter the Schengen Zone. But those who have Schengen visas will not need ETIAS to enter the Schengen Zone.

ETIAS is designed for short-term stays only and does not eliminate the need for visas or work permits for those planning to work or study in Europe. Upon approval, ETIAS will be linked to a traveler’s passport or other travel document and will be valid for up to three years or until the passport expires, whichever comes first. A new passport will require a new ETIAS travel authorization. Because ETIAS is directly linked to the applicant’s travel document, the traveler must enter and exit the EU with the travel document that was used to register for ETIAS and be in possession of the valid ETIAS authorization during their entire stay. ETIAS will be checked by carriers prior to allowing passengers to board transportation (air, land, and sea) into the EU. An ETIAS approval does not guarantee admission. Upon entry, admission decisions will still be made by border guards.

To apply for ETIAS travel authorization, passengers will be required to complete an online application form that covers a range of biometric-, immigration-, and security-related questions, along with the payment of a fee of €7, or approximately $8.00, for those between the ages of 18 and 70 (the fee is waived for all others). In most cases, the processing of applications should take just a few minutes, but individuals are encouraged to apply well in advance of purchasing flights and booking lodging, as the application could be delayed if more information is needed for processing. If so, applicants will receive a decision within four days, or up to 14 days if additional information or documentation is needed, or up to 30 days if an interview is required.

The EU website states, “[E]ven if you need to travel urgently, you still have to have a valid ETIAS travel authorization.” With the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympics games, the number of ETIAS applications is expected to be high. Therefore, if anyone anticipates a visit to the EU in 2024, apply for ETIAS as soon as the application system is fully operational. At the moment, ETIAS is not fully operational, and no applications are being accepted.

Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to assist you with visa-free travel questions and will provide updates when the ETIAS launch date is confirmed and the system is operational.