The introduction of visa-style fees for British nationals travelling to the EU has been delayed until 2023.
The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (Etias) was due to be operational by the end of 2021.
The plan was for full implementation to be rolled out in 2022, according to the EU’s border service, Frontex.
However, a EU commission spokesperson has told The Independent that the system, which is set to affect 60 non-EU countries around the world once it goes online, has been delayed. It is now due to be implemented from 2023.
Countries that require Etias authorisation will include the United Kingdom, Canada, the USA, New Zealand and Australia among others.
Under the system, British passengers will need to fill out an online application form, providing information on health, criminal convictions and recent travel.
This information will then be authorised within 96 hours, with information cross-checked against police databases. The result will then be confirmed by email. There will be a €7 fee to obtain the Etias authorisation; under 18s will be exempt from the fee. After authorisation, the Etias will be valid for three years or until the individual’s passport expires.
Anyone who arrives without Etias authorisation is likely to be deported back to the UK.
On the Etias website (etias.info) they say that “the online application will only take a matter of minutes to complete,” and add that most applications will be approved within minutes.
The visa waiver program, modelled on the US Esta system, will apply to anyone from a “visa-exempt” country visiting the EU’s Schengen Area. Countries that are not on the visa-exempt list already have to travel with a full visa, which costs considerably more.
With an Etias visa waiver, travellers will be able to enter the Schengen Area for short-term stays of up to 90 days for tourism or business. British nationals will then be able to travel freely between the Schengen countries, since there are no hard borders within the zone
Until this rolls out, Britons will be able to travel to and within the Schengen Area of the European Union without filling in any forms or paying an additional fee. Britons will still be able to visit Ireland without authorisation, since it isn’t part of the Schengen Area.
Under EU law, the Etias system is not officially a travel visa since it does not require going to an embassy or consulate. But there are many similarities between the Etias system and a traditional travel visa.
The Etias website states: “The ETIAS visa waiver program has been created to strengthen the security of the region. Screening travelers before they enter the Schengen Area will allow the authorities to identify potential security risks and prevent them from entering the zone.”
The Etias system was approved by the European Parliament on July 5 2018, and the system has since been in the implementation stage. The rollout has been delayed to coincide with a new EU border scheme, the Entry/Exit System (EES), which will log the details of non-EU citizens travelling to and from continental Europe.