From January 1, 2021, the European Union will launch an additional security measure, an automatic ETIAS system, designed to screen out travelers who may be a threat to the EU and to fight against illegal migration. Now, all citizens of countries that have obtained visa-free entry agreements with Schengen (including Ukrainians) will have to apply for it.
Some Ukrainians think that ETIAS is a kind of analogue to the visa system, which will abolish visa free travels to the EU, but it is not so.
What is ETIAS?
ETIAS stands for the European Travel Information and Authorisation System. It was announced by the European Commission in November 2016 and was implemented into legislation in September 2018. The intention of forming the system was to improve the security of EU member states within the Schengen region by capturing data on travellers that currently visit the area without a visa.
The ETIAS will only pre-screen travellers not needing a Schengen Visa. The screening would pertain to terrorism or migration related risks. The objective is to identify individuals who pose security threats before they are able to travel to the Schengen area.
ETIAS is not a visa, it is a visa waiver, similar to the U.S. ESTA and Canadian eTA. Travelers currently visiting European Member countries visa-free, will require an ETIAS from 2021 onwards. Passport holders of the EU single market are exempt from ETIAS
It is noteworthy that not only Ukrainians will have to pass the new authorization, but also to citizens of other countries with a Schengen visa-free regime, including the USA, Canada, Australia and Japan. The full list of countries is available on the official ETIAS website. Schengen visa holders are exempt from ETIAS authorization.
How to apply for ETIAS?
Authorization will be necessary for everyone, regardless of purpose of visit or age. You must apply for an authorization no later than 96 hours before your trip. The procedure will be done online using the official website or mobile application.
Applying for an ETIAS will require a passport along with a computer or mobile device having internet connection as well as a valid form of payment. We approximate the application will take 20 minutes to complete yet this could vary depending on the number of additional fields you may be required to fill-out. You will not need to apply for an ETIAS until January 1, 2021.
Applicants will need to provide the following information as part of their ETIAS application:
- Surname (family name), first name(s), surname at birth, usual name(s); date of birth, place of birth, country of birth, sex, current nationality, first names of the parents of the applicant; home address;
- Passport and / or Travel document information;
- If applicable, information on any other nationalities or citizenships;
- Address of permanent residence;
- Email address and telephone number;
- Member State of intended first entry;
- Education and / or current occupation information;
- ETIAS background and eligibility questions. Such questions will pertain to any medical conditions or other infectious or contagious parasitic diseases; criminal history involving serious damage to property, to another person or entity; history of distributing illegal drugs; previous travel to war-zone countries as well as any previous immigration or travel history which resulted in the applicant being deported or rejected entry into an EU member country;
- If the applicant is a minor, the identity of the person responsible for the minor;
- If the application is submitted by a person different of the applicant, the identity of the person and company that he or she represents (if applicable).
- For family members to EU citizens/third country nationals benefitting from free movement without residence cards: their status as family member; the identity details of the family member with whom the applicant has ties; their family ties.
The ETIAS application fee is €7, however, travellers under the age of 18 or over the age of 70 will not need to pay the fee. Debit and credit card payments are accepted. Upon payment of the fee, paid by applicants between the ages of 18 to 70, the ETIAS application will be processed and a decision will be obtained within minutes.
Checks and results
An ETIAS application is automatically processed based on the following three factors:
- Identity – Does the applicant’s identity match their passport?
- Travel document – Do the travel document details match the information provided by the applicant in other sections? Is it a valid travel document issued by an ETIAS eligible country?
- Background questions – Do the answers match the data held in the databases checked by the ETIAS Central Unit?
The applicant identify, travel document and background questions are then checked against Schengen Information System (SIS), Visa Information System (VIS), EUROPOL DATA, e Interpol Stolen and Lost Travel Document database (SLTD) and the Interpol Travel Documents Associated with Notices database (TDAWN), EURODAC and others, in addition to the ETIAS Central Unit’s own screening rules and watchlist. A positive match detected by the automated processing system that deems the applicant as a possible security or migration risk, it will result in the ETIAS application being manually processed. Manual processing is performed by the ETIAS Central Unit and ETIAS National Units where relevant. If additional information is required from the applicant, they will be contacted within days of receiving notification that their ETIAS requires additional processing. The ETIAS system will provide all applicants notification of their “approved”, “refused” or “manual processing” ETIAS status within 96 hours of application submission.
Completing your online application form will take less than 10 minutes. After submission, your ETIAS application will be processed instantly and you will receive a decision from the system within 96 hours or less. A small percentage of applications may take up to four weeks to process if additional documentation is required from the applicant. If your ETIAS has not yet been approved and you do not have any other travel authorization, you will not be able to enter a country within the European Union.
The ETIAS will be valid for three years, or the date of passport expiry (whichever comes first), and can be used for stays of up to 90 days in a 180 day period.
If you are not eligible for ETIAS or your ETIAS application is denied, you need to most likely apply for a Schengen visa to visit Europe.
If you wish to stay in the EU longer then the amount of time granted under the ETIAS, you will need to switch to the relevant visa category based on the purposes of your stay.