Updated January 16, 2024: Following “unforeseen challenges and complications” with implementing the travel authorization requirement, including technical issues, data privacy concerns, necessary security upgrades, and the Paris Olympics (2024) preparations, implementation of the ETIAS has once again been delayed. Travelers to Europe can now expect to enjoy ETIAS authorization form-free travel until at least May 2025.
European countries are cracking down on security measures, which will now include seeking more information from travelers who previously enjoyed visa-free travel due to their home country’s overall good security track record. Starting in 2024, people from over 60 currently visa-exempt countries (including the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Australia and Canada) will be required to have a European Travel Information and Authorization System (“ETIAS”) travel authorization to enter most European countries (30 in total). Such pre-travel data acquisition will allow European countries that require ETIAS travel authorization to vet travelers and their prospective security risk to the country prior to the traveler’s arrival; this is a distinct departure from current practices in which a border agent may ask and obtain only minimal information prior to stamping and individual’s passport and granting them full, unfettered access to the country.
The travel authorization will be linked to each traveler’s passport and will be valid for up to three years or until the passport expires, whichever comes first. With a valid ETIAS travel authorization, you can enter the territory of these European countries as often as you want for short-term stays; typically, for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. However, obtaining an ETIAS travel authorization does not guarantee entry. Travelers can still expect that, upon arrival, a border guard will ask to see your passport and other documents and verify that you meet the entry conditions for the given country. Once the system is fully operational, travelers may experience faster processing times upon arrival to their travel destination, as agents will already have access to the information they would otherwise have to seek verbally.
Who Must Apply
Any traveler that is not an EU-national, is a citizen of a country whose nationals are not required to have a visa for a short-term stay in ETIAS-requiring European countries, and does not have a residence permit/card/document issued by any ETIAS-requiring European country should apply for the ETIAS travel authorization. Dual citizens that hold passports to both an ETIAS-requiring country and a non-ETIAS-requiring country will not require an ETIAS travel authorization if they enter and exit Europe using their EU passport. Travelers with previous criminal history will be able to apply for ETIAS.
Travelers can fill out an application form online on the ETIAS website or using the ETIAS app. The application will cost seven euros. However, applicants under 18 or above 70 years of age, as well as family members of EU citizens or of non-EU nationals who have a right to move freely throughout the EU, are exempt from this application fee.
To apply, travelers will need a valid travel document to which a visa may be affixed, such as a passport. Such document should not expire in less than three months after the intended departure date from the ETIAS-requiring country and should not be older than ten years. The travel document must also comply with international standards.
In addition to providing a valid travel document, travelers will need to provide the following information:
- Personal information including name(s), surname, date and place of birth, nationality, home address, parents’ first names, email address and phone number;
- Details about their level of education and current occupation;
- Details about their intended travel and stay in any of the countries requiring ETIAS; and
- Details about any criminal convictions, any past travels to war or conflict zones, and whether they have recently been subject of a decision requiring them to leave the territory of any country.
Most applications are expected to process in minutes and, generally, applications may take up to four days at most to process. However, such period could extend up to two calendar weeks if the traveler must provide additional information or documentation (or up to 30 days if the traveler is invited to complete an interview). If a traveler’s application is refused, the email refusal will provide the reason for the denial and an appeal process.
ETIAS Travel Authorization Takeaways
- Travelers will not need to apply for a travel authorization every time they travel to Europe – each travel authorization is good for up to three years or when the traveler’s passport expires, whichever comes first.
- What counts as a valid travel document may differ by country – make sure to check the European Commission website prior to travel to ensure that your travel document will comply with the requirements of all intended travel destinations.
- Each ETIAS travel authorization is linked to the travel document used to obtain it. As such, travelers must carry the same document used in the ETIAS application with them on their travels.
- Most applications are processed in minutes, but as some can take up to 30 days, travelers should make sure to obtain authorization well in advance of needing it.
- Travelers will be refused entry at the border if their passport (and/or travel authorization) is not valid for at least three months after their intended departure date from the ETIAS-requiring country. Travelers must ensure that their passports meet this requirement to avoid an unpleasant surprise upon arrival.
- The ETIAS travel authorization does not replace a work visa or student visa; all travelers seeking to study in Europe for more than 90 days and/or seeking work must still obtain the appropriate visas.
- Travelers who prefer an open itinerary will still be able to obtain the travel authorization but must know the first country in which they intend to stay in order to process their application. Travelers may change their plans once they have obtained the travel authorization.
- In the early days of implementation, travelers may consider avoiding tight layovers in European countries, as this added step could cause delays in passport processing while travelers and border agents get accustomed to the process.
Reach out to a member of our Labor, Employment & Immigration team for further information regarding the upcoming ETIAS travel authorization requirement, visa applications, or international travel.