ETIAS will be a largely automated IT system created to identify security, irregular migration or high epidemic risks posed by visa-exempt visitors travelling to the Schengen States, whilst at the same time facilitate crossing borders for the vast majority of travellers who do not pose such risks. Non-EU nationals who do not need a visa to travel to the Schengen area will have to apply for a travel authorisation through the ETIAS system prior to their trip. The information gathered via ETIAS will allow, in full respect of fundamental rights and data protection principles, for advance verification of potential security, irregular migration of high epidemic risks.
After filling in an online application form, the system will conduct checks against EU information systems for borders and security and, in the vast majority of cases, issue a travel authorisation within minutes. In limited cases, where further checks on the traveller are needed, the issuing of the travel authorisation could take up to 30 days. The ETIAS travel authorisation will be a mandatory pre-condition for entry to the Schengen States. It will be checked together with the travel documents by the border guards when crossing the EU border. This prior verification of visa exempt non-EU citizens will facilitate border checks; avoid bureaucracy and delays for travellers when presenting themselves at the borders; ensure a coordinated and harmonised risk assessment of third-country nationals; and substantially reduce the number of refusals of entry at border crossing points.
Thanks to ETIAS authorities will receive vital information necessary to assess potential risks with individuals travelling to the EU and, if required, a travel authorisation could be denied. Schengen participating States will be able to manage their external borders more effectively and improve internal security. Travellers will have early indication of their admissibility to the Schengen States, making legal travel across Schengen borders easier.
The European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice (eu-LISA) is responsible for developing the system. ETIAS is expected to be operational by the end of 2022. The ETIAS Regulation provides for transitional measures to ensure a smooth roll out of the system.
ETIAS is among the measures undertaken as part of the Security Union. It will also help to achieve the objectives of the European Agenda on Security and the European Agenda on Migration in particular regarding border management and preventing cross-border crime and terrorism.
The European Commission first introduced the idea of a ETIAS in April 2016 in the Communication "Stronger and Smarter Information Systems for Borders and Security" and adopted the proposal on 16 November 2016. After negotiations with the European Parliament and the Council the ETIAS Regulation (EU) 2018/1240 was adopted on 12 September 2018 and entered into force on 9 October 2018.