Travel to the EU is going to become very different – eventually (2023)

The EU’s proposed new digital regime for travellers entering the Schengen zone (which comprises most European countries) has been delayed again. Originally due to come into force in 2022, the introduction of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) has been pushed back several times. Until recently it was expected to be implemented towards the end of this year. But now it seems there has been a further delay until 2024 ( And there is speculation that it won’t be in place until after the Paris Olympics, which end on August 11, next year.

What does all this mean for travellers? Although the Government negotiated post-Brexit “visa-free” visits for British holidaymakers travelling to Spain, Italy, Greece and so on, the proposed new EU system will require non-EU citizens to apply and pay for an electronic pass before travel. Valid for three years, it will be needed by any UK citizen entering the Schengen area – the border-free zone which includes the vast majority of member states, plus Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. It is designed to work with the EU’s new Entry Exit System (EES) which was due to come in at the end of May this year, and now seems also to have been delayed – until November. This will require us to upload our fingerprints and other biometric data to a European-wide computer system and will do away with the need for passport stamping.

Before you bang your fist in fury, this isn’t some terrible Brexit retribution from Brussels. We are simply experiencing the inevitable inconveniences of losing our EU citizenship. In fact, we are just one of more than 50 countries whose citizens don’t require a visa to visit the bloc and will therefore have to use the new system and register their biometric data.

(Video) Travel to the EU is going to become very different – eventually

The American model

Essentially, what Brussels is doing is following the American ESTA model which allows us to visit the United States without a visa, as long as we have registered our details and filled out the questionnaire on its computerised immigration system before we travel. The aim of both this and the new EU system, known as the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), is to improve security at the border, screening for undesirable or dangerous visitors, and make it harder to forge or use stolen documents.

So, how will the ETIAS work when it does finally come in? Essentially, you will have to go through a process which is not so different from what we had to do when Covid-related travel systems were introduced. Using either a new app or the website, you will need to upload some personal information including your passport details, and then answer a series of security questions about any criminal offences you may have committed, and health questions concerning certain medical conditions, infectious or contagious diseases. Finally, you will have to pay a €7 application fee. The EU says that most applications will then be processed “within minutes”.

Assuming you are successful, you will be issued with a pass which, combined with your passport, entitles you to visit the EU for 90 days in every 180-day period. It will last for three years, or until the expiry of your passport, whichever comes first. As well as being automatically checked at the border, your ETIAS pass will also have to be shown to your airline, train or ferry company before you travel. The EU says that attempting to cross the border without an ETIAS “could have serious consequences, including denial of entry to the Schengen member country.”

The latest news is that ETIAS will be introduced at some point in 2024.

What about the EES?

In the meantime, another major change is planned: the EU’s new Entry and Exit System (EES), which will automatically check the validity of passports and ETIAS passes (or visas) of visitors from countries outside the Schengen area each time they cross an EU external border. It was due to be implemented in May, but it is being reported that this will be delayed by at least six months until November this year (the Telegraph has contacted the EU and is waiting forofficial confirmation of this). It will replace the system of manually stamping passports, which is currently the only way that border officials can monitor whether or not visitors remain within their 90-day limit for visa-free travel.

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It sounds as though it should make life easier, but there are major concerns at Dover – where passengers will have to get out of their cars and on coaches to use the system – and at Eurostar, which faces a serious challenge to provide enough space for the necessary new e-gates at St Pancras.

EESis controversial among privacy campaigners because the new system will require you to register your fingerprints and an image of your face. These will then be stored in the form of biometric data on the EU’s computers.

This sort of monitoring for security and identity purposes is not unprecedented. The US has been collecting the fingerprints of tourists at its borders for many years. And they are required for entry into China and with some types of visa at the UK border. But a spokesperson for human rights charity Privacy International expressed concern about the process: “These policies are created without any clear need, but because it’s seen as a border security initiative... the normal scrutiny that one would expect of a mass surveillance exercise doesn’t apply. Biometric systems deal with highly sensitive data that can be used against you, and are prone to fault and abuse. They could be used to misidentify you, and lead to miscarriages of justice.”

In practice, however, if you want to enjoy a holiday in Europe, there won’t be much you can do about it.

All your questions answered

Although Britain is no longer a member of the EU, UK citizens are entitled to visit the bloc without a visa (up to amaximum of 90 days in any 180-day period). Currently that system is policed by border officials manually stamping our passports. Soon however, we will be required to go through a new process of online checks known as the ETIAS which must be completed in advance of travel.

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What is the ETIAS exactly?

When it is introduced next year, the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) will be the EU’s way of automatically checking the credentials of visitors who don’t require a visa and who want to enter the Schengen zone.It will be used for tourism and business travellers and for stays up to the 90-day limit.

What is the Schengen zone?

The zone comprises 26 European countries (22 from the EU plus Iceland,Liechtenstein,Norway, andSwitzerland),that have abolished all internal border controls. Another four EU states, Hungary, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus are expected to join Schengen in due course though, in the meantime, UK citizens will still need to apply for an ETIAS pass to visit them.

The full list of countries requiring the pass is as follows: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. British citizens will not need an ETIAS pass to travel to the Republic of Ireland.

How do I apply for an ETIAS pass and how much is it?

When it comes into force in 2024, you will have to make the application online, although the official website and an alternative app are not yet ready. There is a one-off €7 fee and you will be issued with a pass which lasts for three years, or until the expiry ofyour passport, whichever comes first.Your ETIAS pass will have to be shown to your airline, train or ferry company before you travel. The EU says that attempting to cross the border without an ETIAS “could have serious consequences, including denial of entry to the Schengen member country.”

What information will you need to provide for an ETIAS pass?

For the online ETIAS application, you will need a valid passport from a qualifying country and an email address. You will also have to complete some personal information including your full name, date of birth and country of residency. And, at the end of the process, there will be some security and health questions (see below). You will then have to pay the €7 application fee with a debit or credit card. The EU says that most applications “will be processed within minutes”.

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What will happen to the information that you give the EU?

All applications are automatically checked against a series of security databases, including EUROPOL, Interpol and a special watchlist which includes certain individuals on the UN list of war criminals, and people who have committed or are likely to commit terrorist or major criminal offences.

What are the ETIAS health questions?

We don’t yet know the exact questions which will be asked yet, but there will be a series asking about whether you have suffered, or are suffering from certain medical conditions, infectious or contagious diseases. These will then be automatically checked against a database. If you fail these checks, a more detailed investigation will follow to confirm whether or not an ETIAS pass will be issued.

What are the ETIAS security questions?

Applicants will be asked to declare if they have a criminal record which include criminal damage, terrorism, violence, drug or people trafficking or sexual assault within the last 10 years (20 years for terrorism).

Can you get an ETIAS if you have a criminal record?

The EU says that yes, you will “in most cases, providing information about a criminal record won’t contravene the requirements of an ETIAS visa waiver. However, some serious offences could lead to a refusal.”In such cases they would need to apply for an appropriate Schengen visa from the embassy of the country to which they are travelling.

What is the difference between ETIAS and EES?

The EES is the EU’s new Entry/Exit system which will automatically register and track visitors from countries outside the Schengen area – whether they hold visas or an ETIAS pass – each time they cross an EU external border. It will replace the system of manually stamping passports, which is currently the only way that border officials can monitor whether or not visitors, such as those from the UK, remain within their 90-day limit for visa-free travel.

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The new system will register the person’s name, travel document, biometric data (fingerprints and facial images) and the date and place of entry and exit. You will have to register your photos and fingerprints which will be stored in the form of biometric data.

Where can I find out more?

For updates and more detailed information see the EU’s ETIAS This article is kept updated with the latest information.


Does being in the EU make it easier to travel? ›

EU citizens

You will not need a visa for travelling within the EU. Thanks to the Schengen rules, which are part of EU law, most EU countries have removed controls at their borders.

How does the EU make Europe unique? ›

At the core of the EU are its 27 Member States and their citizens. The unique feature of the EU is that although the Member States all remain sovereign and independent states, they pool together some of their sovereignty in areas where this has an added value.

What is the EU quizlet? ›

European Union. an organization whose goal is to unite Europe so that goods, services, and workers can move freely among member countries.

Which of the following is the main purpose of the European Union EU? ›

The aims of the European Union within its borders are: promote peace, its values and the well-being of its citizens.

Why is it better to be in the EU? ›

The EU is the largest trade bloc in the world. It is the world's biggest exporter of manufactured goods and services, and the biggest import market for over 100 countries. Free trade among its members was one of the EU's founding principles. This is possible thanks to the single market.

Is it difficult to travel in Europe? ›

Getting around Europe is very easy.

Public transport works very well, and in some countries, you can even try van life if you prefer to have your own transportation and you like to have more freedom. For example, Northern Europe is perfect to travel with a van.

What makes the EU a superpower? ›

While the EU is a superpower in the sense that it is the largest political union, single market and aid donor in the world, it is not a superpower in the defence or foreign policy spheres.

Why is the EU special? ›

The EU maintains diplomatic relations with nearly all countries in the world and undertakes a range of actions with strategic partners, key international players, and emerging and developing powers.

What is interesting about the EU? ›

It is the world's biggest intergovernmental body with more than 700 members representing over 500 million individuals from 27 EU member countries and the second-largest democratic electorate in the world (the Parliament of India is the first).

Is the EU a part of the US? ›

The United States, who is not an EU member, has maintained a Mission to the EU since 1961.

What did EU used to be called? ›

25 March 1957 – Treaties of Rome

They formalise this by signing two treaties, creating the European Economic Community (EEC), and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).

What does a EU stand for? ›

The European Union ( EU ) is an economic and political union of 27 countries. It operates an internal (or single) market which allows free movement of goods, capital, services and people between member states.

What is the EU responsible for? ›

Overview. The European Commission is the EU's politically independent executive arm. It is alone responsible for drawing up proposals for new European legislation, and it implements the decisions of the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.

Why was the EU created? ›

The modern European Union, founded in 1992, has its origins in post–World War II attempts to integrate European economies and prevent future conflicts. It consists of seven major institutions and dozens of smaller bodies that make law, coordinate foreign affairs and trade, and manage a common budget.

What type of government does the EU have? ›

The EU treaties declare the Union to be based on representative democracy, and direct elections take place in the European Parliament. The Parliament, together with the Council, form the legislative arm of the EU. The council is composed of state governments, thus representing the intergovernmental nature of the EU.

Is it better to live in the US or EU? ›

Key Takeaways. Overall, Europe has a lower cost of living due to lower healthcare expenses, a weakening euro currency, and low inflation. Europeans, however, tend to pay more of their income to taxes, and average wages tend to be lower than in America.

Why would we leave the EU? ›

Factors included sovereignty, immigration, the economy and anti-establishment politics, amongst various other influences. The result of the referendum was that 51.8% of the votes were in favour of leaving the European Union.

How does the EU help poorer countries? ›

The EU provides Aid for Trade (AfT) assistance to support partner countries' efforts to develop and expand their trade as a way to grow their country and reduce poverty.

Is it safe to travel to Europe as an American? ›

In fact, 7 of the world's 10 safest countries are in Europe (compared to the USA ranking 129th). In terms of terrorism, Europe is safer than it has historically been. Statistically speaking, you're actually probably safer in Europe than in the US, depending on where you live and where you're visiting!

What do US citizens need to travel to Europe? ›

With a valid U.S. passport, you can stay up to 90 days for tourism or business during any 180-day period. Do not overstay! You must wait an additional 90 days before applying to re-enter the Schengen area. To stay longer than 90 days, you must have a visa.

What is the best way to travel to Europe? ›

Transportation in Europe

Trains are generally the best way to get around in Europe. The rail network is comprehensive, ticket costs are rather affordable, and the scenery is gorgeous. Trains are a great way to visit many destinations quickly and efficiently. We loved travelling by train in Europe!

Is USA a hyperpower? ›

Although the United States has arguably exhibited the traits of a hyperpower in the post-Cold War era, its global influence has begun to decline relative to other potential superpowers.

What is most powerful country in the world? ›

The United States remains the most powerful country in the world, followed by China and Russia. However, the balance of power may shift in the coming years as countries like India and Brazil continue to grow economically and assert themselves on the global stage.

Who is the powerhouse of the EU? ›

Germany is the central location for business in Europe. It is Europe´s largest and the world's fourth-largest economy in terms of GDP.

Why is the EU important to the economy? ›

The euro has eliminated the costs of exchange rate fluctuations within the euro area. This protects consumers and businesses within the euro area from costly swings in currency markets, which, in some countries, used to undermine confidence, discourage investment and cause economic instability.

What are 3 countries not in EU? ›

Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway

Although these countries are not members of the EU, their nationals can work in the EU on the same footing as EU nationals, since they belong to the European Economic Area. Workers from Croatia may face temporary restrictions on working in Liechtenstein.

How many countries have left the EU? ›

Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) states that "Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements". Currently, the United Kingdom is the only former member state to have withdrawn from the European Union.

What are some differences between the US and EU? ›

Unlike the US, the EU lacks a formal constitution. However, the EU Treaties function in practice as a constitution since they define the allocation of powers between the different levels of governance and establish how legislation is adopted. EU countries remain responsible for more policy areas than US states.

Who joined EU first? ›

The organisation founded in 1957 which is now known as the European Union, originally had six members: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Who founded the EU? ›

What country is the EU based on? ›

In 1957, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany signed the Treaty of Rome, which created the European Economic Community (EEC) and established a customs union.

Which countries are on the waiting list to join the EU? ›

There are eight recognised candidates for membership of the European Union: Turkey (since 1999), North Macedonia (2005), Montenegro (2010), Serbia (2012), Albania (2014), Moldova (2022), Ukraine (2022), and Bosnia and Herzegovina (2022).

Why is Sweden not in EU? ›

Sweden maintains that joining the European Exchange Rate Mechanism II (ERM II), participation in which for at least two years is a requirement for euro adoption, is voluntary, and has chosen to remain outside pending public approval by a referendum, thereby intentionally avoiding the fulfilment of the adoption ...

Why is Norway not in EU? ›

Norway had considered joining both the EEC and the European Union, but opted to decline following referendums in 1972 and 1994. According to the European Social Survey conducted in 2018, 73.6% of Norwegians would vote 'No' in a Referendum to join the European Union.

Why is EU important to us? ›

The EU is a near-fully unified trade bloc and this, together with competition policy, are the primary matters of substance currently between the EU and the US. The two together represent 60% of global GDP, 33% of world trade in goods and 42% of world trade in services.

What is the highest role in the EU? ›

The president of the European Commission is the most powerful position in the European Union, controlling the Commission which collectively has the right of initiative on Union legislation (only on matters delegated to it by member states for collective action, as determined by the treaties) and is responsible for ...

Who or what creates the EU? ›

The EU was created by the Maastricht Treaty, which entered into force on November 1, 1993.

How many members does the EU have? ›

In the 1950s, six core states founded the EU's predecessor European Communities (Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany).
Member state of the European Union
Number27 (as of 2022)
Possible typesRepublics (21) Monarchies (6)
Populations447,206,135 (2020)
6 more rows

Who passes laws in the EU? ›

There are 3 main institutions involved in EU decision-making: the European Parliament, representing EU citizens. the Council of the European Union, representing EU governments. the European Commission, representing the EU's overall interests.

Are EU countries democratic? ›

Member states of the European Union use various forms of democracy. The European Union (EU) is a sui generis supranational union of states.

Is the EU political military or economic? ›

The European Union (EU) is a political and economic partnership that represents a unique form of cooperation among sovereign countries.

Why is it easier to travel in Europe? ›

Tourist Friendly Countries

A key factor that makes Europe easy to travel is the very fact that it is tourist friendly. Over the years, Tourism has been an integral factor in contributing to the European economy. It is overwhelming to see the preparedness of these countries in tourism.

How easy is it to travel between countries in Europe? ›

Europe's rail network is vast and very efficient with multiple trains a day for most destinations. More so, many popular routes have a train departing each hour which makes it quick and easy to get around.

What are the benefits of being a European? ›

As an EU national, you have the right to live and move within the EU without being discriminated against on the grounds of nationality. You can also benefit from greater consumer protection than in your home country and, provided you meet certain requirements, can access healthcare anywhere in the EU.

Why does Schengen make it easier to move around the EU? ›

Free movement of persons enables every EU citizen to travel, work and live in an EU country without special formalities. Schengen underpins this freedom by enabling citizens to move around the Schengen Area without being subject to border checks.

Why do most people move to Europe? ›

With every country, there are advantages and disadvantages. Most Americans choose to move to Europe to experience a more relaxed way of life and enjoy better health care, a higher standard of living, cheaper real estate, and more security.

What is the best and easiest way to travel Europe? ›

Transportation in Europe

Trains are generally the best way to get around in Europe. The rail network is comprehensive, ticket costs are rather affordable, and the scenery is gorgeous. Trains are a great way to visit many destinations quickly and efficiently. We loved travelling by train in Europe!

Is it OK to travel to Europe alone? ›

Europe is home to about 45 countries, each with its own culture and language, meaning there are a million ways to visit Europe (and a million unique things to know). But one thing's for sure, Europe is a safe place to travel solo, even for solo female travelers.

How can I travel safely to Europe? ›

Here are four tips to help you travel safe.
  1. Sharing your itinerary. Sharing your European itinerary with friends and family back home is a good idea even if you aren't traveling alone. ...
  2. Know how to contact your embassy. ...
  3. Get Schengen visa travel insurance. ...
  4. Be aware of your surroundings.

How long should a trip to Europe last? ›

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO PLAN FOR A TRIP TO EUROPE? A good rule of thumb for planning a trip to Europe is to take at least six months. And if you really want to benefit from early preparation, a year may be even better.

What are 3 benefits of living in the EU? ›

With EU citizenship, you receive a high quality of life, good education and healthcare, social security, and visa-free entry in up to 190 countries. However, the taxes and general cost of living may be higher than in other countries, and there may be strong competition for job opportunities and housing.

Can a US citizen get an EU passport? ›

How to get a European Passport as an American citizen? There are several ways of claiming or applying for citizenship in Europe as an American: You can have citizenship by descent, by naturalization, by investment, or by exception. Citizenship by descent requires you to have a family history tied to the second nation.

Which European country is the easiest to get citizenship? ›

Easiest Countries in Europe to get Citizenship
  • Germany. Average Score: 0.6. It takes a lot of paperwork to become a naturalized German citizen. ...
  • UK. Average Score: 2.2. ...
  • Netherlands. Average Score: 2.8. ...
  • France. Average Score: 3.4. ...
  • Spain. Average Score: 3.6.
6 days ago

Is USA a Schengen country? ›

Some countries have reciprocal visa-free travel arrangements with the Schengen states - including the U.K. and America.

What happens if you stay too long in Europe? ›

Authorities will also punish you whether your overstay beyond your Schengen Visa's validity was intentional or unintentional. You could receive a fine, immediate deportation or even get banned from entering the Schengen Area for a period.

Can you move freely between EU countries? ›

Your rights & EU rules

As an EU national, you enjoy the right of free movement. This means you're entitled to travel, work and live in another EU country. If you're a citizen of a Schengen country – which is most EU countries – you're also free to travel to other Schengen countries without the need for border checks.


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