The new Etias pre-approval scheme for visits to the EU will not be operational until November but the website which will be used to register is now live.
Travellers will apply at the Etias website or by using an Etias mobile app.
For now, the site offers information only.
Who will need to apply?
Etias will apply to all non-EU nationals who do not live in the EU and who do not need a visa to visit. It will thus not apply to short or long-stay visa-holders, nor to Britons who live in France and have a Withdrawal Agreement residency card.
However, it will apply to Britons, including second-home owners, visiting EU countries, including France, if their normal place of residency is the UK.
Americans, Australians, Canadians and New Zealanders will also need this, for example.
Etias will consist of an online application, with payment of a €7 fee if you are an adult aged 18-70. Otherwise, it will be free. Once received, authorisation will remain valid for three years.
It is distinct from the European Entry/Exit System, which starts in May and will require the same people to provide biometric information for storage in a database and will record their entry and exit from the EU’s Schengen zone.
One element asked for will be any convictions for serious crimes in the last 15 years, or 25 years for terrorism.
Get Etias approval before booking travel
All EU countries will require Etias, apart from Ireland, as will the EEA (but not EU) states Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and also Switzerland.
Everyone will need an individual Etias but an adult should apply on behalf of children.
It will also be possible to authorise someone else, such as a travel agency, to apply for you.
It will be recommended to apply before buying tickets or booking accommodation, although the application will ask for the first country you plan to stay in.
How long does Etias approval last?
Once approved, the holder’s Etias will be checked as they enter one of the countries concerned. A valid Etias will allow you to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
Border guards will still be entitled to ask for other entry paperwork if they wish.
The approval will be linked to the holder’s passport and will last three years, or until the passport expires.
Applicants will receive an email with an application number and, once the processing is complete, will receive another with the outcome, which they can print out if they wish to have paper proof.
However, this should not be required, as their Etias status will be checkable with a passport scan by travel check-in staff and border guards.
Applicants should check the name, passport number and other information is correct and report it if not. If they have been refused, the email will give details of the right to appeal.
A ‘limited validity’ Etias may be applied for in certain circumstances by those refused a full Etias – for example, to visit a very sick relative. It is limited to a certain country or countries and is of limited duration.
Special rules apply to family members of EU nationals, including spouses, legal partners, children under 21 or who are dependents, and dependent grand/parents.
There is no fee and they are not screened against databases relating to illegal immigration.