ETIAS, the European Travel Information System
While the implementation of ETIAS may seem to be quite a way off, the European Council hopes to make sure that this visa waiver program will greatly increase security on the continent and of people seeking to travel to Europe.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), ETIAS is an important first step in the “digitalization of travel.” The end goal is the use of biometric technology – think fingerprints and facial recognition – to help provide the ultimate in security. The European Union (EU) agency driving this digital initiative is eu-LISA, the European Agency for the Operational Management of Large Scale IT Systems. It’s the very first EU agency established for the sole purpose of border and migration policies. Since it began operations in 2012, eu-LISA has been moving toward an all-digital, interoperable system so every key EU agency can get critical information to people on the front lines, such as border control and police.
ETIAS approval allows you to bypass time-consuming and potentially costly visits to embassies and consulates. ETIAS is not a visa. It is a visa waiver. If the purpose of your trip does not fall under the scope of ETIAS, you will need to apply for a traditional visa with each country on your itinerary.
ETIAS, the European Travel Information System, provides qualifying visitors a visa waiver when traveling to the Schengen Area, a group of European countries that have agreed upon who can visit and how long they can stay. The Schengen Area was created by the European Union, or EU, in the spirit of harmonious and free travel between borders and has grown to 26 countries – most are in the EU but some are not. Given the influx of international travelers to the Schengen Area, more comprehensive security checks have had to be put in place. ETIAS, much like ESTA in the United States, will create centralized data on who is visiting and why, providing enhanced security for all.
The main reason for the approval of the ETIAS authorization is security. With the increased risk of travelers worldwide, the EU wants to ensure safe travels in its countries. The ETIAS will decrease security concerns substantially through its information and data gathering systems. What this means, is that the ETIAS will detect if a person is a threat in any way to the security of Schengen countries. This will lead to the person being denied entry and avoiding the threat from being present inside EU borders. It will basically deal with a problem before it is even there.
Do I need ETIAS if I have a Schengen Visa? No, if you have a Schengen Visa, then you will not need an ETIAS authorization. You can present your visa to the border authorities when you enter the Schengen Zone countries. When your visa expires, you can apply for the ETIAS if you are eligible. Read extra details on ETIAS.