What Travelers To Europe Need To Know About New Visa Rules

Entering Europe will soon change for everyone traveling with a non-EU passport under two new border control schemes. There is news that an EU non-working party has looked into the idea of decoupling the two schemes, meaning they may be brought in at different times.

Here’s what you should know about the new border controls and the effects they may have on non-EU travelers arriving in Europe.

ETIAS, the European Travel Information and Authorisation System, Due November 2023

ETIAS, the European Travel Information and Authorisation System, will oblige visitors from outside Europe to apply for a visa-waiver before arriving into one of the participating European countries.

It will operate much like the ESTA scheme in the U.S., where travelers not visiting on a U.S. passport will need to register before entering Europe for a fee of $7. Travelers under 18 and over 70 will be exempt from payment. The right to enter will last 3 years, after which time, travelers must reapply.

Travelers from 63 countries will be affected, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the U.S., the U.K. and the UAE.

The 26 countries in the Schengen area that are in the scheme are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. A handful of EU countries will not be in the scheme in its first iteration, such as Ireland and Cyprus.

The ETIAS scheme was due for release in November 2023, just a few months from now, at the same time as the EES.

The EES, the Entry and Exit Scheme, Due 2023 But Now Delayed Possibly Until After Paris Olympic Games 2024

The EES, Entry and Exit System, is a new scheme to use biometric data to pass through the frontier into a Schengen-area country—fingerprints and faces will be scanned as travelers pass through electronic gates. It is intended that it will eventually replace passport stamps.

It was due to come into effect in 2020, then delayed eventually to November 2023. Due to the significant delays due to technical issues, France asked the EU to postpone both schemes now until after the Olympic Games take place in Paris in summer 2024—for obvious reasons, as a huge number of people are expected to attend and a glitch in any new system would seriously impede people’s access.

The EES And ETIAS May Be Decoupled And Come Into Effect At Different Times

Due to the fact that the Olympic Games are to be held in Europe in 2024 in Paris, and that there are delays in the technological delivery of the schemes, it does appear to make logical sense that any border controls would be delayed until after an extra million people have passed through EU borders next summer—it wouldn’t make for great headlines at the Olympics if there were delays at the airports because of tech issues, for something that has nothing to do with sport.

So there is now an idea to decouple the two systems and bring in the ETIAS scheme before the EES.

There are several issues around the decoupling, notably whether countries feel happy that travelers cannot be checked against all available databases upon entry, as they will be when both systems are up and running.

If the plans are accepted, such a decoupling could take place by May 2024, according to the report, which is when the ETIAS would begin for travelers. The EES would occur once the first scheme was working. A decision will likely be made in October.


Correction Wednesday 19 July—this article was amended to add the information that passengers under 18 and over 70 will not need to pay for authorization prior to travel under ETIAS.