The European Union (EU) plans to launch a new travel authorisation system next year in an effort to boost border security and automise the process of entering member states.
International travellers from visa waiver countries will have to register with the upcoming European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS).
This extra step is one more thing to remember before travelling, but it is an important one. Authorisation from the ETIAS will be mandatory to enter the Schengen Area visa-free.
The good news is that the ETIAS Application will be completely online. Passengers will simply have to put their details into a short form and click “submit”. Their journey will then be authorised without the hassle associated with applying for a visa at an embassy.
The ETIAS is modelled on similar platforms used by other countries around the world, including the US ESTA.
According to the EU: “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.”
Travellers visiting the Schengen Area will have one more thing to remember to do. In addition to making sure they have an up-to-date passport, booking flights, and getting travel insurance, they will have to complete the online registration.
Luckily, signing up with the ETIAS appears to be a quick process. As with similar systems, it is expected that passengers will simply have to enter their details into the relevant fields of the online form.
According to the European Commission, it expects about 95% of applications to be approved almost immediately. Those that require additional checks may take a few working days to process.
Once a traveller has their ETIAS authorisation to visit Europe, it will be valid for 3 years. This means they will be able to make multiple visa-free trips to any of the 26 countries in the Schengen Area during this time. As well as Hungary, holders can travel to Austria, France, Spain, Italy, or any other member of the open-borders region.
The idea behind travel authorisation systems like the ETIAS is to improve security. Passengers who need a visa must submit their information to authorities of the country they are visiting as part of the application. However, those who enjoy visa exemption do not. They are not subject to the same security screening.
Nationals of over 60 countries and territories can currently enter the Schengen Area, including Hungary, visa-free. Travellers need only a passport issued by one of these places to visit for up to 90 days.
The ETIAS will provide a way to screen these travellers to identify and stop any threats to security. They will be required to submit their basic personal information and passport details, and answer some travel and health-related questions.
The ETIAS program has been in the works since 2016. European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker released the following statement in September of that year.
“We need to know who is crossing our borders. By November, we will propose an automated system to determine who will be allowed to travel to Europe. This way, we will know who is travelling to Europe before they even get here.”
The ETIAS platform has been slated for launch in 2022. After this, it will become an entry requirement for nationals of countries such as the United States of America, Canada, Brazil, the UK, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, and various others.
Citizens of other countries will require a visa, as is the case now.
EU and EFTA nationals will continue to enjoy freedom of movement around the Schengen Area. Hungarian passport holders will not need to register with ETIAS. However, foreign visitors from visa waiver countries will need to sign up online to avoid having to get a visa.
The total list of visa-free countries, as laid out in the EU’s “Annex II”, is as follows: