Visa-free travel to France: EU agency warns over fake Etias websites

Over 100 unofficial sites have been uncovered - and many peddle misinformation, steal travellers’ data or charge extortionate fees

The system is not set to launch until 2025, but some scam websites are already offering to help travellers apply
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A warning about websites that pose as official sources of information about the new system of managing visa-free travel to the EU, known as Etias, has been issued by the European border agency.

The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (Etias) is a travel authorisation system intended to streamline travel to EU countries for people from outside of it, including travellers from the UK.

At present, it is expected to start in 2025 and will require travellers to pay a €7 fee.

‘Over 100 unofficial Etias websites’ 

However, the European border agency, Frontex, has warned that a number of websites are attempting to scam travellers.

Frontex has identified ‘over 100 unofficial websites’ providing information to travellers about the scheme. 

It notes that while some of these sites are trustworthy and provide legitimate news on the topic, others peddle misinformation. 

Some websites even advertise that they can apply for Etias authorisation on behalf of individuals - despite the system being nearly a year away.

“We are aware of several sites that claim to already accept Etias applications. Travellers should be very cautious about those websites,” said Francois Laruelle, Director of the Etias Central Unit Division at Frontex.

“It is not currently possible to apply for an official Etias travel authorisation since the system is not operational yet,” he added.

Applying for Etias authorisation via a third-party site may lead to risks such as identity theft and selling of personal data to third parties.

These websites may also charge extremely high fees for managing the application, leaving travellers out of pocket. 

Read more: How will EES/Etias affect spouses of EU nationals in France?

How will Etias work? 

Etias will require all non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationality visitors from outside the Schengen area who can currently enter it on a visa-free basis to register with the system. 

The digital system will register travellers’ passports and Etias approval will be checked via a passport scan at the border.

Read more: What is the EU’s Etias visa waiver scheme?

Travellers will need to register for permission to visit the Schengen area in the days prior to travel, for a price of €7 via the official EU website at In most cases, the EU says, approval will be rapid.

Price exemptions will exist for some young and elderly travellers, but they must still register with the system to travel.

The EU says this will take around 10 minutes per person.

Etias is separate from the Entry/Exit System (EES) of biometric border checks due to start in autumn 2024.

However, the systems are expected to work in tandem despite their launches being around six months apart. 

Read more: New European Entry/Exit System: 9 key things to know in advance

While the EU has previously confirmed that it may be possible for commercial intermediaries to offer to help travellers with the registration process, ultimately all applications will have to be made via the official website.

The EU has not announced having partnered with any other company to provide this so far.

In addition, prices offered by any third parties for Etias registration are likely to be higher than those that the EU will charge for the same service, as well as requiring you to hand over potentially sensitive information including your passport details. 

In most cases, therefore, there is unlikely to be a benefit to using them.