EU Introduces New Authorisation System: The Definitive Guide

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European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS)

The EU has recently announced a system for its border entry process to the Schengen Zone.  The system is called ETIAS, and here is everything  you need to know to prepare for these changes. Currently, citizens of 61 nations, including Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, are permitted to enter the EU without a visa for up to 90 days of business or travel. The proposed changes will require that these citizens apply for entry authorisation before arrival to the Schengen zone.

This system has been three years in the making, after EU President Jean-Claude Juncker outlined their intentions of the proposal in his State of the Union address in 2016.    Since then, the number of security concerns have only increased.  EU cities have been experiencing growing irregular and illegal migration and terrorist attacks. These have become the primary reasons for the proposed authorization process.  As indicated by Juncker, “we need to know who is crossing our borders… before they even get here.” (September 2016)

ETIAS is modelled after a number of different electronic travel systems, but will most closely resemble the United States’ ESTA visa waiver program, which was implemented in 2009. This type of system will automatically cross-check applicants from countries with visa-free arrangements against several international security organisations’ databases as an added measure of security without requiring a full visa.  In addition to security checks, ETIAS will also check visitors for possible health risks to curb potential spread of disease.


Do I need ETIAS? Citizens from 61 countries with visa-free rights to enter the EU will require ETIAS authorisation.  Among these countries are Australia and New Zealand.  To check whether you require ETIAS, click here.

How much does it cost? The authorisation is expected to cost approximately €7, payable by debit or credit card, for applicants between the ages of 18 and 70.  However, the cost is subject to change.

Where is ETIAS authorisation required? There are 26 countries in the Schengen zone for which this application process will be required: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

The Schengen zone, and therefore ETIAS, does NOT include the UK, Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus.

What does the application consist of? Applicants will be required to input:

  • full name
  • date and location of birth
  • citizenship
  • contact details, including address, email, and phone number
  • education and work experience
  • intended country of arrival
  • eligibility questions about medical and criminal backgrounds, including past travel in war-torn countries.

What documents are required in the application process? The only document required in the process is a valid passport.

How long does the application take? The application is expected to take fewer than 10 minutes to complete.  If completed correctly, the application is likely to be processed automatically and granted within a matter of minutes.  However, an estimated 5% of applications will require further verification, which could take a maximum of two weeks.

How long does the authorisation last? Once granted, the authorisation holder will be authorised to stay for a period of up to 90 days.  The authorization will be valid for three years or until applicant’s travel document expires if less than three years.

What happens if you travel to the Schengen zone without ETIAS? If you are not granted ETIAS authorisation before your arrival to a Schengen country, you will be refused entry.  Your information and refusal will be recorded, potentially affecting future authorisations.

The online application system is expected to become operational in January 2021.  It will be important to be wary of site posing as the official ETIAS website.  This occurred in the case of the United States’ ESTA program.  Hundreds of Australians have complained to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission about being charged 10x the price of an official ESTA waiver (Best 2018).  Several New Zealanders also claimed to have been scammed because the scamming sites were listed higher than the official site on Google (Orzessek 2018).  Already, there are multiple websites offering information about ETIAS procedure.

For more information about ETIAS, read the information provided directly by the European Commission.


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