News report | | 19/01/2023 | ±3 minutes reading time

Looking to copy the success of the US ESTA system, the European Union will be introducing its own electronic travel permit in 2024: the ETIAS. This travel permit will become mandatory for all non-European travellers who will travel to a European Schengen country, or Bulgaria, Cyprus, or Romania. Due to Brexit, this includes travellers from the UK. The ETIAS-system is expected to take effect in 2024.

What is the ETIAS?

The ETIAS is modelled after the US ESTA system. Although travellers from EU countries do not require a visa to travel to the USA, they generally do need a travel permit to enter the country: the ESTA. ESTA applications are submitted online and are usually processed in 3 days. Travellers from the USA can also travel to the EU without a visa. However, they do not require an additional travel permit like an ESTA. This will change in 2024 with the ETIAS system.

ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System. Like the ESTA, the ETIAS is not a visa but an electronic travel permit for visa-exempt travellers to the EU. This currently includes 61 countries who have a reciprocal visa policy with the EU; travellers from the EU are also allowed to travel to those countries without needing a visa.

How does the ETIAS system work?

The ETIAS will function in exactly the same way as a US ESTA. After filling in an online form and paying the costs, the application is processed. Once approved, the person is authorised to travel to Europe. Like an ESTA, an ETIAS will be valid for a stay of up to 90 days. However, unlike an ESTA, an ETIAS will be valid for three years, not two. During this validity period, multiple trips to Europe can be made with the same ETIAS. The electronic travel permit can be used for tourism, business trips or transits. It will be mandatory to obtain an ESTA to travel to the 27 Schengen countries, as well as Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania.

When will the ETIAS be implemented?

The ETIAS has been in development since 2018. Initially, it was meant to be implemented in 2021, but this date was pushed back for safety concerns. The new date on which applying for an ETIAS will become mandatory for incoming travellers outside the EU is somewhere in 2024. From this date in 2024, the border control forces in these European countries will check if visitors from outside the EU have a valid travel permit. This inspection will be carried out on the basis of the traveller’s passport number. Travellers will only be allowed to board if a valid ETIAS is associated with their passport.

How will this impact European travellers?

The ETIAS will only be required for travellers outside the EU travelling to Schengen Area countries, or Bulgaria, Cyprus, or Romania. These travellers must also have a passport that was issued by one of the 61 countries whose citizens are allowed to travel to Europe without a visa, such as the United States. For travellers from countries that require a visa to travel to Europe, little will change. This category does not qualify for an ETIAS and will have to apply for a visa as usual. There will also be little impact within the EU, as nationals of member states are already free to move within the Schengen area.

However, for travellers from the United Kingdom, the introduction of the ETIAS system will be a bitter pill to swallow. Although the UK has not been a part of the EU since Brexit, British citizens are still allowed to travel through Europe without a visa. However, starting in 2024, travellers from the UK will also have to apply for an ETIAS to travel to a large number of European countries. The EU is considering a grace period to still allow British nationals to travel to EU countries without an ETIAS. However, no guarantees have been given on that.

Please note: this news article about the ESTA for the USA is more than one year old. It might contain outdated information and advice, and no rights can therefore be derived from this article. Are you going on a trip soon and do you wish to do know what rules currently apply? Read all about the up-to-date information about the ESTA for the USA.

e-Visa.co.uk is a commercial and professional visa agency, and supports travellers in obtaining, among others, the ESTA USA. e-Visa.co.uk acts as an intermediary and is in no way part of any government. You can also apply for an ESTA directly with the immigration service (21 USD per ESTA, via esta.cbp.dhs.gov). However, not with our level of support. If you submit your application via e-Visa.co.uk, our support centre is available to you 24/7. In addition, we manually check your application and all the documents you provide before submitting it to the immigration authorities on your behalf. If we suspect any errors or omissions while doing so, we will personally contact you to ensure that your application can still be processed quickly and correctly. To use our services, you pay us 21 USD in consular fees, which we pay to the immigration service on your behalf, as well as £33.77 in service fees as compensation for our services, including VAT. Our services have saved many travellers from major problems during their trip. Should an application be rejected despite our support and verification, we will refund the full purchase price (unless an application for a previous ESTA USA was rejected for the same traveller). Read more about our services here.