ETIAS, what it means for travellers; what it means for Frontex
What? The European
Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is a system for granting
authorisation to travel to the external borders of the Member States. The final
decision on crossing the external border lies with the destination Member State.
ETIAS will carry out pre-travel screening to assess the security and migration
risks of travellers who benefit from visa-free access to the Schengen area, and
thus allow Member States to deny authorisation to travellers considered to pose a security threat, or a risk in
terms of irregular migration or public health. In
order to cross an external Schengen border, visa-free travellers will need to
have both a valid travel document and an ETIAS authorisation.
Why? EU Member States’ border management authorities
currently have little information about travellers exempt from visa
requirements entering the EU. ETIAS will therefore be an
important means of addressing this information gap by supporting security
screening and risk assessment of travellers, reinforcing the internal security
of the Schengen Area.
When? The ETIAS Regulation was passed by the European Parliament on
5 July 2018. The adoption was
confirmed formally by the Council of the EU on 5 September and officially
signed by the two co-legislators on 12 September. It enters into force on 9 October 2018. The ETIAS legal
framework is still in the course of completion with Commission
implementing and delegated acts.
ETIAS is due to
become operational by the end of 2021.
Full implementation is expected in the course of 2022.
is the role of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) in ETIAS?
A: The European
Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) will be responsible for setting up and
running the ETIAS Central Unit. Operating on a 24/7 basis, the ETIAS
Central Unit will have several key tasks, including:
verifying travel authorisation applications with regards to a traveller's
identity in cases of a match against one of the databases checked during the
testing, implementing, evaluating and revising specific risk indicators contained
in the ETIAS screening rules
regular audits on the processing of applications and on the implementation of
the ETIAS screening rules, particularly concerning their impact on fundamental
rights, privacy rules and data protection
ensuring that the
data stored in the application files and the data recorded are correct and up
information about ETIAS to the general public
operating a help desk for travellers.
other components will go to make up ETIAS?
A: ETIAS will be
composed of the ETIAS Central Unit, the ETIAS Information System, and the ETIAS
Border and Coast Guard Agency will be responsible for the ETIAS Central Unit (see above).
will be responsible for the development and the technical management of the ETIAS
Information System, comprising,
a central system
to process the applications
a national uniform
interface in each Member State that connects the central system and the
a secure communication
infrastructure between the central system and the national uniform interfaces
a public website
and a mobile app for mobile devices
an email service
as well as a number of tools for applicants, such as an account service, a
verification tool, and a tool to provide or withdraw consent for data retention
beyond the general retention period.
Member States will establish ETIAS National Units, which will have
primary responsibility for:
assessments on applications that have matched information in one of the
databases checked during the automated process
taking final decisions
on whether to accept or turn down these applications
applicants with information on appeals procedures
ETIAS watchlist, together with Europol.
Europol willprimarily be responsible for:
providing opinions to Member States when consulted on
managing the ETIAS watchlist together with Member States.
Q: How will the ETIAS system work? A: ETIAS will cross-check identity data provided by travellers
in their application against a number of databases. If there is any concern
regarding a particular traveller, the application will be further verified and
ETIAS will initially check against the following databases:
information systems: - the Schengen
Information System (SIS) - the Visa
Information System (VIS) - Europol data
future EU information
systems: - the Entry/Exit
System (EES) - new Eurodac
databases: - the Interpol
Stolen and Lost Travel Document database (SLTD) - the Interpol
Travel Documents Associated with Notices database (TDAWN)
a dedicated ETIAS
watch list and specific risk indicators.
long will it take to obtain an ETIAS authorisation?
is planned as a simple, fast and visitor-friendly system: completing the online application should not take more than 10
minutes, and automatic approval should ensue within a few minutes in more than
95% of cases.
case needs to be handled manually by the Central Unit, managed by the European
Border and Coast Guard Agency, and thereafter followed up by the National
Units, the response time can be prolonged by up to 96 hours. In exceptional
circumstances, further information may be asked of applicants and further
procedural steps could be necessary.
Q: How many travellers will be
affected by ETIAS?
A: Currently, people from around
60 countries worldwide do not need a visa to enter the EU. A detailed list is
There are approximately 1,885
official border crossing points into the EU. These processed 565 million
external border crossings in 2014, a figure that is forecast to rise to 887
million in 2025. EU citizens will make up two-thirds of these border crossings,
and of those non-EU citizens crossing the EU border, it is estimated that
approximately one third will come from visa-exempt countries.
Discussions on the
status of countries currently in talks with the EU to enjoy visa liberalisation
may also have an effect on the number of people applying for ETIAS
authorisations in the future.
Q: How will border checks change
after the introduction of ETIAS?
A: Border guards at Schengen
border crossing points will scan travellers’ document data electronically and
register them in the Entry/Exit System, thereby triggering a query to ETIAS. If
the traveller is in possession of a valid travel authorisation, the traveller
will be able to continue their journey if all other entry conditions are
fulfilled. If there is no valid ETIAS travel authorisation, the border guards
will refuse entry and record the traveller and the refusal of entry in the
many employees will be needed for ETIAS to function?
A: By the time ETIAS becomes operational, it is estimated that Frontex
will employ 250 dedicated staff in the Central Unit. eu-LISA is expecting to
hire some 40 members of staff. Member States will be responsible for adequately
staffing their own ETIAS national units.
Q: How much will it cost to obtain an
A: Travellers will
have to pay a one-off €7 fee, with travellers below 18 and above 70 years of
age exempted from this payment. Once issued, the authorisation will be valid
for three years and for an
unlimited number of entries. However, the travel authorisation may be revoked
or annulled should the conditions for issuing it no longer apply.
Q: How much will the ETIAS system
cost to operate?
A: The operational and
maintenance costs of the ETIAS Information System, the ETIAS Central Unit and
of the ETIAS National Units should be covered entirely by the revenues
generated by the fees.
Q: Who will be affected by the
introduction of ETIAS?
A: ETIAS will only
apply to nationals of countries and territories who enjoy visa-free travel to
the Schengen Area. Nationals of EU Member States and nationals of Schengen Area
countries will not need an ETIAS authorisation.
Disambiguation: a Norwegian returning
home from Brazil via Portugal would not need an ETIAS authorisation, as Norway
is a member of the Schengen Area even though it is not an EU Member State.
Nationals of countries exempt from the requirement to hold a
visa to enter the EU will need to be in possession of an ETIAS authorisation only
if they wish to cross a Schengen external border.
Disambiguation: an Australian
will need an ETIAS authorisation to travel to Switzerland, which is not an EU
Member State but is a member of the Schengen Area. However, the same Australian
traveller will not need an ETIAS authorisation to travel to Ireland, which is
an EU Member State but not in Schengen.
Q: What information will travellers need to provide to
obtain an ETIAS authorisation?
A: Under the ETIAS Regulation, individuals will have to
provide basic information about their identity, travel document, level of
education, and occupation, as well as answer a number of background questions
concerning issues such as previous stay in conflict zones or criminal
Q: Are there any countries where
similar systems to ETIAS have already been introduced?
A: ETIAS has
similarities with systems already used in a number of countries, first and
foremost the United States (electronic system for travel authorisation - ESTA),
Canada (electronic travel authorisation - eTA) and Australia (electronic travel
authority - ETA).
Q: Will the introduction of ETIAS
have any repercussions for the economy and business?
A: ETIAS will have an effect on
the transport industry:
Carriers will have to systematically check that visa-exempt third
country nationals travelling to the Schengen area are in possession of an ETIAS
authorisation before they can board
Even today carriers may be liable in accordance with EU rules
if entry is refused at the border, and they will remain responsible for
repatriating the refused traveller at their own cost, in addition to a possible
fine for faulty processing
With ETIAS in place, carriers may also be liable if they
transport passengers without an ETIAS authorisation
International airline associations have expressed their
support for ETIAS for increasing border and flight security, but have stated
the need to develop a user-friendly application process and to avoid longer
waiting times for passengers.
Q: What rights does an individual
have whose ETIAS authorisation has been turned down?
authorisation is refused, the relevant national authority will have to inform
an applicant within 96 hours about the decision or within four weeks in cases
when more information has been requested. The national authority must also
provide the applicant with information about applicable national law, the
necessary authorities to contact, how to lodge an appeal, and any relevant
deadlines. In case of refusal, applicants always have the right to appeal. NB A previous refusal of a
travel authorisation will not lead to an automatic refusal of a new
Q: Will fundamental rights be
endangered by the introduction of ETIAS?
A: The ETIAS Regulation
respects fundamental rights and observes the principles recognised by the
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. Data processing must not lead to any
form of discrimination or breach of respect for human dignity, integrity and
The ETIAS Regulation contains
all necessary safeguards to ensure a just and adequate process. Member State
law enforcement authorities and Europol will have access to ETIAS, under strictly defined conditions, for the prevention, detection
or investigation of terrorist offences or other serious criminal offences.
recorded in the ETIAS system will
not be kept for longer than is necessary for its purpose. It will be stored for
the period of validity of the travel authorisation, or for five years from the
last decision to refuse, revoke or annul the travel authorisation.
In addition, representatives
of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, the European Data Protection
Supervisor, the European Data Protection Board and the EU Agency for Fundamental
Rights will take part in a Fundamental Rights
Guidance Board, an independent advisory body to assess the
impact of processing applications and the screening rules on fundamental
rights, and provide guidance to the ETIAS Screening Board.
Q: What happens if a traveller’s data
matches the information in one of the checked databases?
A: Of the estimated 5% of
applications that may match the information in one of the checked databases, it
is expected that 3-4% will receive a positive decision after the ETIAS Central
Unit carries out a manual verification. The remaining 1-2% will be transferred
to ETIAS National Units for manual processing and a final decision.