Launch of ETIAS delayed - yet again -- to 2025

Contemplating a winter trip to Europe to see the Christkindlmarkts, I recalled the European Union's plans to implement its European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). Upon further investigation, I found that the implementation of this system -- much like the U.S. Real ID program -- has been delayed for at least the fifth time.

The ETIAS, which will affect tourists headed for the Schengen area of Europe, was originally to have taken effect on Jan. 1, 2022 but was delayed to January 2023, then to May 2023, a third time to November 2023, and then to an unspecified date in 2024. The ETIAS website continues to be somewhat vague about the exact date of implementation, saying only that ETIAS is "Coming in 2024."

At present, citizens of approximately 60 countries are permitted to enter the EU and Schengen member countries without the need to obtain a visa. Under the ETIAS, these visitors - including those from the U.S. and Canada - will be required to register before traveling.  They will then be screened "thereby reducing the likelihood of security incidents involving EU citizens," according to a statement on

Starting in 2025, travelers arriving at the EU borders will need to have both a valid passport and an ETIAS authorization, according to the program's web site.

The ETIAS authorization is not a visa, as many news outlets have misrepresented it. Rather, it is visa waiver program similar to the U.S. Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which is used to screen people in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

Obtaining the ETIAS authorization is expected to be affordable, simple and quick, according to the European Commission.

“Completing the online application should not take more than 10 minutes with automatic approval being given in over 95 percent of cases,” the Commission noted. “Travellers will have to pay a one-off €7 fee (for travellers between 18 and 70 years old) and the authorisation issued will be valid for three years.” It will also be good for an unlimited number of entries during the period of its validity.

ETIAS will cross-check data provided by visa-exempt travelers against the EU information systems for borders, security and migration, including the Schengen Information System (SIS), the Visa Information System (VIS), Eurodac, Europol and Interpol databases. In cases where authorization is refused, the relevant national authority will have to inform the applicant about the decision or seek additional information within 96 hours.

The Schengen area that will be covered by the ETIAS is a made up of 26 countries that agreed to create common entry and exit requirements in order to remove the need for internal borders. As long as Schengen area entry requirements are met, foreign visitors may generally travel freely between participating countries without having to go through border controls.

However, there are exceptions to that general rule. My wife and I had to clear passport control at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport in 2019 on our way to Copenhagen, then again when heading home, again through Schiphol, though both the Netherlands and Denmark are Schengen countries.

The dark and medium green countries on the map above are the Schengen countries; the light green countries are European Union (EU) members that are not signatories to the Schengen agreement.

Countries participating in the Schengen Borders Agreement, signed in June 1985 near the town of Schengen, Luxembourg, are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

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Photo and map by Carl Dombek
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