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ETIAS Delayed to 2025

Europe as viewed at night from a satellite with city lights showing

Ana Galanzovski works as a manager for an international company based in Germany. Although she’s a remote worker living in Turkey, sometimes she must travel to Berlin for work meetings and team building. With her Ukrainian passport allowing her visa-free travel to the Schengen zone, it has been easy to make these trips. 

But in 2025, the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is scheduled to launch, and Galanzovski will need to go through the new preregistration process before she travels to the Schengen zone. 

“Of course, no one enjoys completing extra paperwork before a trip, but as long as this is kept simple and the system works correctly, I don’t see any further complications from this measure,” Galanzovski said. “I just wish this had some kind of possible benefit for the traveler. Otherwise, it’s just an extra step, which is not ideal now that we have the technology to make the border paperwork and visas smoother.”

Pre-Travel Registration Is Coming

ETIAS was originally scheduled to launch in 2022 but has been postponed multiple times. The most recent change pushes the launch from 2024 to 2025. ETIAS is similar to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) in the U.S.

“ETIAS is not a visa; it’s a pre-travel clearance, similar to the ones already existing in a lot of other countries,” said Lieselot Whitbeck, an attorney with Hunton Andrews Kurth in Miami. “It’s just a traveler screening tool.” It allows the countries of Europe to run some background checks on people planning on traveling to the countries participating in the ETIAS program.

“You’re still maintaining visa-free travel privileges, you just need to obtain this travel authorization,” said Scott Bettridge, an attorney with Cozen O’Connor in Miami. “ETIAS is the European visa waiver system, and it has an overall objective of improving global security and safety.” 

Eligible travelers will be able to apply for ETIAS online; the application will cost 7 euros. ETIAS will be linked to the traveler’s passport and will be valid for up to three years or until the expiration of the passport, whichever is sooner.

ETIAS doesn’t change the amount of time a traveler is allowed to stay in Europe; it is still 90 days allowed out of 180 days. Most applications will be processed in minutes, but some might take days, depending on the situation. If an ETIAS application is rejected, there will be an option to appeal, though the traveler might be required to apply for a visitor visa. 

Delayed Again, to 2025

The delayed launch of ETIAS is due to a few different factors, the most significant of which are the technological challenges inherent in the endeavor, adherence to the EU General Data Protection Regulation and the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. 

“This is a massive technological challenge. This is a lot of data, this is a lot of countries sharing data and it’s just hard to do that. It’s hard to develop a website that won’t crash all the time,” Whitbeck said. “It’s hard to make sure that you are protecting the data you receive and using the data you receive in the ways that it’s intended.” 

The Olympics had the potential to amplify any glitches in the system, with a large number of international visitors and athletes visiting the EU for the event. Pushing off the launch until after the Olympics avoids the potential of a massive system meltdown when the EU is the focus of the world’s attention.

“When you roll out a platform of this scale affecting over a billion travelers, you have to make sure that all your t’s are crossed and your i’s are dotted. So that’s one issue is the technical challenges that have come across, including glitches of software and data integrity issues,” said David Adams, counsel at Cozen O’Connor in New York City. “If they would have rolled [ETIAS] out in early 2024, as they originally planned, that system would have been tested in ways that they would never have been able to plan for given the volume of travelers they’re expecting for the Olympics.”

ETIAS is also being launched in conjunction with the European Entry/Exit System (EES), which adds further technological challenges.

The EES “is probably the bigger technical challenge, whereas ETIAS is just a small piece of it. It’s dependent on the EES first being launched and working before they can do the easier—but still significant—technical challenge of launching ETIAS,” Whitbeck said.

What Companies Should Know

Companies should keep ETIAS in mind as one more thing to check or confirm for employees who might need to travel to Europe.

“Companies should know when their people are traveling when they’re going to Europe and should at least inform their people when ETIAS goes live that it is a requirement,” Whitbeck said. “It’s just part of managing your business traveler program, just another thing to add to the checklist.”

U.S. citizens are likely to get a transition and grace period once ETIAS is launched in 2025.

However, much can change before ETIAS is officially launched in 2025, Whitbeck said: “Like everything in immigration, this is all subject to change.”

Katie Nadworny is a freelance writer in Istanbul. 


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