STORY UPDATE August 9, 2022 – The travel authorization had been scheduled to become fully operational on May 2023. However, without any warning or official statement, the EU Commission has updated the date to November 2023.
You will likely have to pay to enter Europe soon. The European Union has created a new entry scheme to enter Europe without a visa called ETIAS. It is similar to ESTA for those entering the United States. ETIAS is likely to go into effect in May, 2023.
What Is ESTA
ESTA stands for Electronic System For Travel Authorization. It was born out of the September 11th terror attack so the United States can know who is entering the country. It is an alternative to applying for a visa for entry into the United States. This program is handled through the Department of Homeland Security and has been in effect since August, 2008.
Those travelers coming from an eligible country can apply online for a cost of $21.00. This fee just increased last month from the former cost of $14.00. There are special immigration lines at airports for those foreign visitors with completed ESTA applications to fast-track through.
I just returned from Europe two days ago at Seattle Tacoma International Airport. They completed overhauled the customs and immigration hall three weeks ago and it looks impressive. ESTA travelers have two lanes through immigration to use. At this point in time, US citizens returning with global entry have to visit a customs officer as the global entry camera system is not currently working. There is currently no TSA precheck entering security at this time. Two days ago, there were just two TSA security lines for all passengers.
Get Ready For ETIAS
Entering Europe has been an easy and straightforward process for those not needing an entry visa. This is about to change in May, 2023. Like ESTA, ETIAS is a quick, online process that requires no biometric information. ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System. This system was originally scheduled for a late 2022 implementation.
EU travelers traveling within the EU Schengen zone will be exempt from ETIAS. ETIAS will be implemented for those entering from 60 countries including the United States and the United Kingdom. For those of you that didn’t follow Brexit in the U.K., the U.K. is no longer a member of the European Union. You can read more information on ETIAS here.
For 95% of those applicants using the online ETIAS system, approval should happen within minutes. For those travelers requiring extra screening, approval may take as long as a month. Those who are denied ETIAS approval will have a chance to appeal. The cost of an ETIAS application will be seven Euros which at the time of this writing is $7.35 USD.
ETIAS authorization will be valid for an unlimited number of entries over three years. ETIAS holders must abide by applicable immigration and overstay rules for the countries that they visit.
Entering Europe usually has two or three types of immigration lines:
- Holders of EU passports,
- Holders of U. S. or U. K. passports and
- Holders of all other passports.
I can see that ETIAS holders will probably clear immigration faster than those that don’t. The United States has been using this same type of process for almost 24 years and the European Union is just catching up with the United States. The cost is reasonable and is less than what the United States charges for ESTA. ETIAS should be live for a May 2023 implementation. Travel Codex will update this story when details become available.