European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS)
ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorisation System. It is a new policy for border control which aims to strengthen the external borders of the European Union. From 2021, Macau SAR Passport holders will need to apply for a travel authorization before travelling to the Schengen Area; which is made up of 26 countries.
There are currently over 60 countries and territories which are not in the European Union (EU) whose citizens can enter the EU Schengen Zone without needing a visa. Citizens of these countries are allowed to go into countries in the Schengen Zone for business or travel purposes for up to 90days.
In November 2016, the Commission proposed to create a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) to strengthen security of travel to the Schengen area under visa-free agreements. The ETIAS will carry out pre-travel screening for security and migration risks of visa-exempt visitors. This will help to identify any possible security concerns prior to their travel to the Schengen area, thus contributing to more efficient management of the EU’s external borders and improved internal security. ETIAS is set to commence in 2021.
What is the difference between a Schengen visa and an ETIAS travel authorisation?
The ETIAS authorisation is not a visa, which is a completely electronic system. Nationals of visa liberalisation countries will continue to travel the EU without a visa but will simply be required to obtain a travel authorisation via ETIAS prior to their travel. ETIAS will be a simple, fast and visitor-friendly system, which will, in more than 95% of cases, result in a positive answer within a few minutes.
An ETIAS travel authorisation does not reintroduce visa-like obligations. There is no need to go to a consulate to make an application, no biometric data is collected and significantly less information is gathered than during a visa application procedure. Whereas, as a general rule, a Schengen visa procedure can take up to 15 days, and can in some cases be extended up to 30 or 60 days, the online ETIAS application only takes a few minutes to fill in. An ETIAS authorisation will be valid for an unlimited number of entries.
What will visa-exempt travellers have to do before their travel?
Travellers will have to complete an online application via a dedicated website or an application for mobile devices. Filling in the application should not take more than 10 minutes and should not require any documentation beyond a travel document (a passport or other equivalent document). In case of an inability to apply (due to age, literacy level, access to and competence on information technology etc.) applications may be submitted by a third person.
An electronic payment of a €7 fee for each application will be required for all applicants between the ages of 18 and 70. The electronic payment methods will take into account technological advancements in the visa-free countries in order to avoid hindering visa-free third country nationals who may not have access to certain payment means.
The automated assessment process will start after the fee collection is confirmed. The vast majority of applicants (expected to be more than 95% of all cases) will be given automated approval which will be communicated to them within minutes of payment. If there is a hit against any of the searched databases or an undecided outcome of the automated process, manual handling of the application will take place by a Central Unit in the European Border and Coast Guard Agency or by a Member State team. This can prolong the response time to the visa-exempt third country national by up to 96 hours. In very exceptional circumstances further information may be asked of applicants and further procedural steps may be necessary, but in all cases a final decision shall be taken within four weeks of their application.
For more information and details regarding “European Travel Information and Authorisation System”, please visit the website at: http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/PE-21-2018-INIT/en/pdf
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