Originally planned to launch in May 2023, the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is now set to come into force in November 2023. The completely electronic system will keep track of visitors who do not require a full visa to enter Schengen Zone countries for the purposes of travel for up to 90 days.
Experts from travel company Stasher have warned: “For UK travellers looking to visit an EU country, the process is about to get a lot more complicated.”
The ETIAS plans were developed long before the UK voted to leave the EU and have been likened to the US ESTA schema, which operates in a similar way.
The European Commission in Brussels has insisted that the ETIAS is not a visa.
A spokesperson said: “There is no need to go to a consulate to make an application, no biometric data is collected and significantly less information is gathered than during a visa application procedure.”
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However, the application process has led many people to consider the new system an “e-visa”.
Jacob Wedderburn-Day, an expert from travel company Stasher, explained: “Travellers can complete an application form on the ETIAS website.
“The application is designed to be quick and should take about 10 minutes to complete.”
As the UK is now categorised as a “third country”, Britons will need to apply for a three-year permit from next November.
This will include completing an online form with details of health, education and any criminal convictions, and payment of €7 (£6).
Mr Wedderbun-Day said: “The only official document you’ll need to apply for Etias is a biometric passport.
“You’ll be required to provide your UK passport details, basic personal information like your name and gender and an email address.
“You’ll also need to ensure your passport is valid for at least six more months at the time of travel. “
In most cases, an application should be approved within minutes.
However, Mr Wedderbun-Day points out that there will be “rare occasions” when certain details raise a “red flag”.
He explained: “The application will be reviewed by the ETIAS central and national units before a decision is reached.
“If denied a travel permit, this can be appealed which may delay your travel plans.”
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Passport stamps are also to become obsolete when a new entry and exit system is introduced at Schengen borders.
The system will register the passenger’s name, type of travel document, biometric data and the date and place of entry and exit.
The new system is more advanced than standard checks and stamps and aims to prevent or detect criminal activities.
Passengers who refuse these checks may be sent for additional questioning or even denied entry.
However, there are some concerns this could cause long delays at borders.
Mr Wedderbun-Day said: “The House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee has raised their concerns that this new system will cause sustained disruption and delays, on top of the chaos we’ve seen recently at ports and airports.
“There is also concern that large numbers of passengers or technical system glitches could create longer delays.”
He added: “It is expected that these delays will be significant for those travelling by car because it is impossible to carry out biometric checks while travellers are in their cars at ports.
“Passengers will have to step out of their cars to do facial recognition and fingerprint checks before returning to their cars.”