ETIAS - What is it? What does this mean for UK event delegates and travellers?
ETIAS: European Travel Information and Authorisation System - a programme created recently by the European Union with an aim to protect and strengthen borders in Schengen area countries.
Schengen Area Countries
The 26 Schengen countries are 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.
From November 2023 onwards, tourism and business travellers will be expected to have an approved ETIAS when traveling to any of the Schengen member countries. Similar to the US version ESTA, this will be a form of travel authorisation, not a European visa itself.
As most UK travellers have found, especially across summer 2022. As great as it is to get that stamp in your passport, since Brexit it has caused major delays and issues at border control. It is hoped that the new ETIAS system will be a game changer in that it should reduce waiting times at international borders, therefore improving the airport experience.
Much like on return to the UK, machines will be in place at airports. Passengers will scan the photograph page of their biometric passport and look into a screen.
The facial image is compared against the biometric information stored in the passport. The gates will open automatically once the passport holder has been cleared for travel.
How long does an ETIAS Visa Waiver Last?
Travellers will have to pay for the cost of ETIAS when they complete the ETIAS application form. ETIAS visa waivers will be valid for 3-year periods and will allow people to enter the Schengen Area for periods of up to 90 days (within any 180-day period).
To apply online for the ETIAS, applicants need a valid passport, an email address, and a debit or credit card to pay for the application fee. These are the essential ETIAS requirements for applying for the European travel authorisation.
The ETIAS application requests that travellers complete basic biographic information including full name, date of birth, and country of residency. When completing the ETIAS application, the applicant should provide their passport details. At the end of the process, there will be a set of security and health questions.
Most applications will be processed within minutes. All applications are checked across a series of security databases, among them, SIS, VIS, EUROPOL DATA, Interpol, and more. ETIAS has its unique screening rules and a watchlist. Once an application has been revised, the applicant will receive a confirmation message with the travel authorisation at the email address provided.
The Etias is expected to cost around £6 per application.
What does this mean for events?
Well if you are planning an event within a schengen country and have UK delegates attending. You will need to now factor in an ETIAS alongside those all important passport details. This will mean a little more devil in the detail within the planning process (or another dreaded column in your spreadsheet). It could also mean for some the need to incorporate the application fee into the budget. This could be a major point for those with a large group attending needing the authorisation.
It will also mean your planning team will need to stay on top of the applicants to ensure all is in place well before the event.
Remember, this will take place from November 2023. So for those who have events before this, don't panic!! But for those planning into 2024 and beyond, you need to be aware and begin to add this into your planning process.
For more information or for help with planning your international events - firstname.lastname@example.org