In about a year away from now, travellers from over 60 world countries will need to apply for an online travel authorisation in order to be able to enter the Schengen Area visa-free.
The European Union has been working on this requirement, which is officially called the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), since 2016, and the same is expected to become effective before the middle of 2024.
While the reason behind the introduction of such a system is EU’s bid to strengthen its security system, and better control who enters and leaves its territory, many travellers are unhappy with the move, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
In particular, British tabloids have often accused the EU for introducing the requirement in revenge to the United Kingdom for leaving the bloc, though the requirement will not only apply to UK nationals, but also to another over 60 world countries. This means that by next year, 1.4 billion world citizens will need to apply for an ETIAS, including the over 67 million UK nationals.
The requirement has also been called a visa, which is untrue, because the ETIAS is very different from a visa.
The EU is not the first to introduce a travel authorization requirement to access its territory for travellers from visa-free countries, as other world countries have been operating such schemes for a very long time now. And not only that, but the ETIAS travel authorization is amongst the cheapest ones to date.
While an ETIAS will cost €7, the United States’ Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) costs $21.00 USD (€19.66). Up until spring last year, the fee for an ESTA was $14.00 USD (€10), but the same has now increased, without the US authorities giving a particular reason why.
New Zealand also operates a similar scheme called the Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA), which is valid for two years, and costs NZD $17 (€11.71) if completed on the New Zealand Immigration agency’s app, or NZD $23 (€13.47) if completed online.
The cost for a travel authorization to Australia, which is called the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) costs $20 AUD (€12.52)
The UK has also announced its travel authorization scheme, though the price of the same is not known yet.
“We will confirm the exact cost of an ETA shortly. Each traveller must apply for their own ETA, including children,” UK Visas and Immigration has confirmed on March 9, though confirming that one UK ETA will be valid for two years.
The same will start operating on November 2023 for citizens of Qatar, and then in February 2024 for citizens of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. It is still unknown when citizens of the EU will have to start applying for an ETA before travelling to the UK, though it is expected that this will happen before the end of 2024.