Around 1.4 billion travellers from more than 60 countries who are currently allowed to travel visa-free to the 26 Schengen Area countries in Europe will soon be required to apply for a Schengen Visa authorisation before entering Europe.
(Valencia, October 14, 2021) The requirement, which will be fully implemented by the end of next year, will require the travellers from non-EU countries that are permitted to travel visa-free (including the United States and the United Kingdom) to apply for a Schengen Visa authorisation. This will be done through a new system called ETIAS, which stands for the European Travel Authorisation and Information System.
According to a press release issued on October 13 by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, also known as Frontex, the block will not be the first to impose such a requirement for visa-free visitors from other countries. Frontex pointed out that this system has been in place for many years, and visa-exempt travellers have had to apply for a travel authorisation to enter the United States, Canada, or Australia.
ETIAS is an electronic system which allows and tracks visitors from countries that do not require a visa to enter the Schengen Zone. It has been in limited use since 2016 and it was initially introduced in an attempt by the EU to prevent those who pose a security, public health, or migratory risk from entering its territory. Much more developed in the last couple of years, it has become a tool for obtaining Schengen Visa authorization.
In June this year, the EU Parliament adopted the last two amendments negotiated with the European Council and approved changes to a third text on ETIAS access to the European Criminal Records Information System on Third-Country Nationals (ECRIS-TCN) to lay the technical groundwork Schengen Visa authorisation system as reported by the EU portal SchengenVisaInfo.com.
Although EU authorities have been working on the ETIAS system for years, the system’s full capability was tested only in October, with 41 new Frontex employees hired to work on the ETIAS Central Unit.
After the ETIAS is fully operational, the agency expects to hire more than 200 people at the ETIAS Central Unit.
The system is also intended to allow air and sea carriers, as well as international carriers transporting groups by coach over land, to register for both the Entry/Exit System (EES) and ETIAS. The registration will allow them to obtain Schengen Visa authorization for their passengers before transporting them to the Schengen Area, as required by EU law.
Frontex noted in a press release that connecting the EU security databases with the existing European databases was the most difficult challenge in establishing ETIAS procedures.
To date, 34 different institutional bodies have collaborated to create the ETIAS, including the EU Commission, Frontex, eu-LISA, and even Europol, demonstrating how large the task was.