Reader Question: Exactly how will the Etias visa scheme affect people such as my wife and myself? We have lived permanently in France for the last 21 years, we hold British passports and French cartes de séjour.
What process, if any, would we be required to go through when travelling to the UK for a holiday by car and then returning to our home in France?
Set to be introduced in November 2023, Etias stands for the European Travel Information and Authorisation System and is more accurately described as a visa-waiver rather than a visa.
It is an EU tracking system aimed at monitoring the movements into the Schengen area of non-EU citizens of nationalities that do not need a visa for short visits to the area, such as British and American people.
The Etias system is now set to be introduced in November 2023 after the date was pushed back.
A traveller will be required prior to travel to fill in the application form online – a process which is expected to take about 10 minutes. There will be a €7 per person fee.
Under-18s and over-70s will not have to pay a fee, but must still gain Etias approval.
The details will then be checked against EU information systems.
Up to 95% of applications are expected to be approved within minutes but, if further checks are required, the process could take up to two weeks.
When the person arrives at border control into the EU, passport control officers will scan their travel document data electronically, triggering a query to Etias. If they have received prior approval they will be allowed to proceed, if not they will be refused entry.
Etias will be similar to the American Esta visa-waiver and approval, once obtained, will remain valid for three years.
Will it apply to non-EU citizens living in the EU?
EU residents who do not have EU nationality will not need Etias authorisation to travel to their country of residence, so an American or British person visiting family in their original country will not need to go through the process when returning home to France.
A European Commission source has confirmed to The Connexion that the system only concerns non-EU visitors crossing the “external border” of the area.
The German government information page on the new system adds: “Since the EU has abolished borders between member states, the Etias is not meant for them.”
It also states that people with a long-term visa from an EU member state “will not need to obtain travel authorisation for as long as you have the visa,” since it will “give you the right to move throughout the whole Schengen [area].”
European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex, which is responsible for Schengen border control, states that: “Those UK nationals who are beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement will be exempt from Etias.
“They can not only reside on the territory of their EU host country, but also travel to other member states of the Schengen area for a short-stay without an Etias travel authorisation.”
It is expected that EU residents travelling within the Schengen area will just need to show proof of their residency to border authorities to explain that they do not need Etias approval.