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Europe won’t charge for entry just yet

<i>Noppasinw/Adobe Stock</i><br/>The European Commission has postponed the launch of its ETIAS visa waiver scheme
Noppasinw -
Noppasinw/Adobe Stock
The European Commission has postponed the launch of its ETIAS visa waiver scheme

Julia Buckley, CNN

Planning a trip to Europe next summer? The cost of living may be rising but there’s one small comfort — you no longer have to pay €7 ($7.35) to be let in.

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

ETIAS — which stands for stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System — had previously been announced as starting in May 2023. Even that was a delay on the original date, which was set for late 2022.

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

The ETIAS is not a visa; instead, it is a visa waiver scheme, just like the United States’ ESTA program, which launched in 2008.

It doesn’t replace visas, either; it will only be applicable to non-EU nationals from countries which don’t already currently need a visa to the EU. It’s quicker than a visa to process, is done online (like the ESTA), and requires no biometric information. However, just like the ESTA, there is a cost to acquiring it.

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

But for everyone else entering the bloc from a country which didn’t previously require a visa, the ETIAS will be obligatory. The move affects around 60 countries including the US and the UK, which lost freedom of movement after Brexit. Nothing changes for those who previously needed a visa to enter.

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

ETIAS authorization be valid for an unlimited number of entries over three years. However, holders must abide by immigration and overstay rules. Currently, third-party nationals cannot stay more than 90 days in the bloc in its entirety, for every 180 day period.

The cost: €7 ($7.35) for those aged between 18 and 70. It’s not yet clear if others will have a reduced rate or will be able to apply for free. In comparison, the US charges $21 for an ESTA authorization.

Applications cannot yet be made, and a date has not yet been set for when they will start.

Main image: Noppasinw/Adobe Stock

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