Frontex, together with other EU institutions and 30 European countries, is currently preparing for the launch of ETIAS, the European Travel Information and Authorisation System, expected in 2024.
With ETIAS, visa-free travellers will be required to apply for a travel authorisation prior to undertaking their trip to Europe. The system will carry out pre-travel screening of these travellers to determine whether they pose a security, illegal immigration or public health risk, thus further strengthening the EU’s internal security.
Frontex hosts the ETIAS Central Unit, which will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to handle ETIAS applications and help travellers and carriers.
As the introduction of ETIAS affects the nationals of about 60 visa-free countries – potentially 1,4 billion people – it is essential to make sure they are well informed about the upcoming changes in the rules of travel to Europe.
Frontex supports the European Commission in preparing a public information campaign about ETIAS, expected to be launched six months before the system enters into operation.
The official ETIAS website europa.eu/etias, launched last year, also provides travellers with information about the new requirements, the application process, appeals, and other relevant topics. Travellers will be able to submit their ETIAS applications exclusively through this official website once the system becomes operational.
“We have become aware that the number of unofficial ETIAS websites in multiple languages has recently increased to over 50. While some of these websites are run by genuine businesses, others may not be as trustworthy,” said Francois Laruelle, Director of the ETIAS Central Unit Division at Frontex.
The ETIAS Regulation does allow commercial intermediaries to apply for the travel authorisation on behalf of others. However, as the application process will require travellers to submit details of their passport details, credit card number and other personal data, it is important to ensure that such sensitive information is not misused.
Once ETIAS is launched, the commercial intermediaries will have to use the official ETIAS website – the only official channel – to apply for the travel authorisation on behalf of their clients. Applying on the official website will cost EUR 7. Any additional charges will go to the intermediaries.
“When applying for an ETIAS authorisation, it is important for travellers to consider whom they are giving their personal information to and how much they are willing to pay in addition to the application fee. It is important travellers take time and assess these factors carefully,” added Laruelle.