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Navigating the EU's Upcoming Changes: EES and ETIAS Visas Explained

Everything you need to know about the Entry Exit System (EES) and European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS)


In a move set to reshape travel to the European Union, the long-awaited Entry Exit System (EES) is slated to become operational in October 2024 after facing repeated delays. This significant development, coupled with the impending European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), is set to bring about more complex entry procedures for non-EU nationals starting this autumn.


Understanding the EES and Its Impact


The EES, part of the broader ETIAS framework, aims to enhance border security and streamline entry processes. Operational in October 2024, the EES will capture additional information about non-EU travelers, including biometric data such as fingerprints and facial images. Notably, passport stamps will be replaced, with the system automatically registering entry and exit information for individuals within the Schengen zone.


For non-EU citizens, including UK nationals post-Brexit, staying in the EU for more than 90 days will require a visa. However, the EES does not apply to EU citizens or those traveling between Schengen zone countries.


The ETIAS: A Closer Look


Expected to take effect in 2025, the ETIAS will require non-EU nationals to pay a €7 fee per person for a visa waiver, allowing a 90-day stay in the EU and Schengen zone. Once approved, travelers won't need to reapply for three years. Notably, the visa won't be necessary for the Republic of Ireland, as it is part of the Common Travel Area.


To apply for the ETIAS, travelers between 18 and 70 years old will need to complete an online application and pay the fee. However, non-EU nationals with official residency in an EU country holding biometric identity cards may be exempt from both the EES and ETIAS, along with the 90-day limit.


Preparing for the EES: Infrastructure and Concerns


Countries across the EU are gearing up for the implementation of automated barriers to conduct EES checks. From self-service kiosks in France to tablet devices at land and sea borders, each nation is adopting a unique approach. However, concerns have been raised about potential delays, especially at ports like Dover, where space constraints may pose challenges.


In the UK, the Entry Exit System has sparked "widespread concern," with predictions of longer processing times for UK nationals upon arrival in the EU. The European Scrutiny Committee warns of potential waits of up to 14 hours at border crossings between the UK and EU, emphasizing the need for decision-makers to address these issues.


Remaining Vigilant Against ETIAS Scams


With the official launch of ETIAS in mid-2025, EU authorities are already cautioning non-EU nationals about fraudulent websites. Frontex, the EU's border control agency overseeing ETIAS, has identified 60 unofficial sites in operation. Travelers are advised to use only the official ETIAS site to avoid falling victim to scams, where copycat websites may charge additional unauthorized fees.


As the EU prepares for these transformative changes, the impact on travel dynamics and border procedures remains a focal point of discussion and concern. Travelers are urged to stay informed and vigilant in the face of evolving entry requirements.

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