EU to introduce pre-travel authorisation for visa-exempt travellers from 2021

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The EU has officially adopted the new European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) at the European Parliament Plenary in Strasbourg on 05 July.

ETIAS, a pre-authorisation system which allows the EU to know who is entering the EU, from where and if they pose a risk to EU security, is expected to come into operation in 2021.

When ETIAS comes into operation, all visa-exempt third-country nationals who plan to travel to the Schengen area will have to apply for pre-travel authorisation and pay a fee of EUR7, although the system will be free for under 18s and over 70s. The aim of ETIAS is to ease travel to the EU and simplify border checks.

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has congratulated the EU on the adoption of ETIAS, and has stressed the importance of the process to be made as easy as possible for legitimate travellers.

In addition to the ease of process, WTTC also advocated for the fees to remain at a reasonable level, one that did not discourage travellers from coming to Europe. The final fee of EUR7 meets this balance, according to the WTTC.

“We see this as an important first step in the digitalisation of travel. The ultimate aim will be the use of biometric technology to ensure seamless, more efficient and more secure travel. WTTC is committed to enhancing security and improving the entire passenger journey. This will essentially maximise the potential of the Travel & Tourism to create jobs and drive economic growth,’ stated Gloria Guevara, President & CEO World Travel & Tourism Council.

Applying for ETIAS aims to be quick and simple, requiring no more than a travel document, credit card and access to the internet. A vast majority of applicants will receive a positive reply within minutes, according to the EU. If additional information, documentation or an interview would be needed, different possibilities will be offered to take into account the situation of the traveller.

WTTC has welcomed the fact that the needs of the travel and tourism community were taken into account whilst ensuring enhanced EU security.