The ETIAS EU entry program is postponed

(CNN) — Are you planning a trip to Europe next summer? The cost of living may be rising, but there’s a little comfort: you no longer have to pay €7 ($7.35) to gain admission.

The European Commission has postponed the launch of its ETIAS visa waiver scheme, which will see all non-EU passport holders need pre-travel authorization to enter the bloc.

It will now be operational by November 2023, according to a new note published by the European Commission.

ETIAS is not a visa; rather, it is a visa waiver program, much like the United States’ ESTA program, launched in 2008.

It also does not replace visas; it will only apply to nationals of non-EU countries who do not yet need an EU visa. It is faster than a visa to process, is done online (like ESTA) and requires no biometric information. However, like ESTA, its acquisition has a cost.

EU travelers are exempt and have freedom of movement within the bloc, allowing them to spend as much time as they wish in many countries. EU residents will also be exempt from the scheme, regardless of nationality.

But for anyone entering the bloc from a country that did not require a visa before, ETIAS will be mandatory. This decision concerns around 60 countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, which lost their freedom of movement after Brexit. Nothing changes for those who previously needed a visa to enter.

The application process will be through a “largely automated IT system”, with approval granted “within minutes”, for around 95% of applicants, according to a new memo released by the EU. The maximum time needed for approval could be up to one month in “very exceptional cases”. Anyone whose application is refused will have the right to appeal.

The ETIAS authorization is valid for an unlimited number of entries over three years. However, holders must follow immigration and overstay rules. Currently, third-party nationals cannot stay for more than 90 days across the bloc, for each 180-day period.

The cost: €7 ($7.35) for people aged 18 to 70. It is not yet clear whether others will receive a reduced rate or be able to join for free. In comparison, the United States charges $21 for an ESTA authorization.

Applications cannot yet be submitted and no date has yet been set for their launch.

Main image: Noppasinw/Adobe Stock


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