In the last few days, the implementation, or lack thereof, for ETA and ETIAS has again been in the news. Additionally, I have been reading and hearing that there may be some confusion about them. In this post, I want to give you an update about ETA and ETIAS, and I hope to clear up some confusion and misinformation about them.
ETA and ETIAS are different programs
First, let’s start with the basics. ETA stands for Electronic Travel Authorisation. It covers the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorisation System. It covers the area known as the Schengen Region, which primarily includes the European Union and some surrounding countries. Since the United Kingdom is no longer part of the European Union, ETIAS does not cover the United Kingdom.
However, you should note that while Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland is part of the European Union. So, if you are traveling to both Ireland and Northern Ireland, you may eventually be required to register for both.
What are the functions of ETA and ETIAS?
If you go to the ETIAS.com website, it says that ETIAS is intended to improve the security of the Schengen area by requiring visa-free travellers to obtain travel authorisation and undergo various security checks prior to arrival in the EU. The UK website says that the UK ETA is part of government plans to fully digitalize the borders by 2025.
Essentially, these systems are in place to improve national security and to reduce the threats of terrorism, drug trafficking and human trafficking.
Who will need to apply for thes programs?
Both programs are similar in that they say it is required by people entering these areas who do not otherwise need a visa. So, for example, if you are an American traveling to these areas for a vacation of, say, two weeks, you don’t need a visa. So you will need to apply for these programs. However, if you are going to these areas for an extended period of time for work or as a student, you need a visa.
The UK website says: You’ll need an ETA to: come to the UK for up to 6 months for tourism, visiting family and friends, business or study. come to the UK for up to 3 months on the Creative Worker visa concession.
You should also note that at this time, there is some indication that even making a connecting flight at Heathrow or any other UK airport will require getting an ETA. There does not seem to be the same requirement for ETIAS.
If I am accompanying someone who has applied, do I need to apply too?
The short answer is yes. Everyone must apply. You can, however, have someone apply on your behalf. You may be required to provide a declaration of representation.
How long does it take to get approval?
The UK ETA website says that the approval is usually complete in 3 business days. The ETIAS website says that you should get approval within 96 hours.
If, however, there is a concern on your application, it could take up to 3 months to get the issue resolved.
What information must be provided?
For the ETA, the UK website says you will need to provide your full name, date of birth, country of citizenship, and travel details.
The ETIAS website says you will need to provide the following:
- Name, date and place of birth, sex, nationality, home address, email address and phone number
- Your parents’ names
- Travel details
- Level of education and current occupation
- Country of first intended stay and address of your destination.
- Details of past criminal convictions, past travel to war or conflict zones and whether you have “recently been the subject of a return decision”.
When will these go into effect?
Currently, the expected date that Americans will be required to apply for the UK ETA is the second quarter of 2024 (ie, before June 30, 2024). The implementation of the EU ETIAS has been delayed until some time in 2025.
My Thoughts on This
Keeping in mind that you cannot actually see these applications yet, we don’t know exactly what will be asked and how, so we will have to be somewhat flexible when they are released.
Both websites say that approval for most people will be done in a few days. But, if there are issues with your application, then it could take several weeks. So, don’t wait until the week before you leave to complete the application.
One website recommended not completing your travel plans until you get approval, but the applications require you to state where you are going. So, I recommend ensuring you do not wait until a non-refundable date has passed for your travel plans.
You may not know this,, but actually the United States has already been requiring this same type of registration for a few years – including those persons just making a connection within the US.
There will likely be some grumbling when these programs are actually implemented. But, over the years we have accommodated several changes in the way we travel. I may be giving away my age, but I remember when you could meet people at the jetway when they got off the plane. This should not be a barrier to travel.