The European Travel Information and Authorisation System will change the way millions of people travel to Europe.
According to data recently released by Frontex, almost 1 in every 5 people will need to apply for ETIAS Visa Waiver from the end of 2022. ETIAS will have a big impact on international mobility.
Read on to find out how many people travel to the Schengen zone each year and why ETIAS will be necessary from 2022.
How many people will need ETIAS for Europe?
Almost 1 in 5 people will need ETIAS to travel to the European Union without a visa. That’s over 18% of the world’s population.
Visa-free travel to Europe is available to citizens of more than 60 countries including the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Japan.
From the end of 2022, these 1.4 billion visa-exempt travellers will need to apply for ETIAS. This new travel authorisation will be required to enter the Schengen Area from outside the EU.
ETIAS will change EU border crossing procedures
The way these 1.4 billion people travel to Europe will change when ETIAS is introduced at the end of 2022.
Currently, EU border officials carry out checks on visitors when they are already at the border. They assess whether people travelling to Europe without a visa could pose a threat to security or public health.
ETIAS will allow these checks to be made before travellers depart, improving EU security and making border crossing a smoother process.
In the news release, Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri explained:
“ETIAS is an important part of the digitalisation process of our border management, helping to ensure the resumption of international mobility in the post-COVID world with higher security and safety standards”.
How many agencies are involved in the development of ETIAS?
Thirty-four institutional actors are working together to develop ETIAS, including:
- Frontex—setting up the ETIAS Central Unit.
- eu-Lisa—developing the IT systems.
- Europol—providing data for security screening.
Thirty European countries are in the process of establishing their ETIAS National Units.
ETIAS screening process for visa-exempt travellers
To apply for ETIAS, travellers will fill out an online form. They’ll need to provide personal data, passport details and some security information.
The ETIAS system will automatically check the applicant’s data against information stored in EU databases. Systems involved in the screening process include:
- Schengen Information System (SIS)
- Visa Information System (VIS)
- Entry/Exit System (EES)
These systems contain information that will help European authorities identify applicants who pose a health or security risk before they reach the border.
What will be the ETIAS travel authorisation approval rate?
The European Union expects around 97% of applications will be approved automatically within 96 hours.
If there is a hit in any of these systems, the application will be manually processed by the ETIAS Central Unit and then passed onto the relevant ETIAS National Unit for final review.
Just 3 out of every 100 applications will be processed manually.
How many people work at the ETIAS Central Unit?
Frontex confirmed that 41 new staff members have recently joined the agency to work at the ETIAS Central Unit:
- 28 ETIAS application handlers
- 2 team leaders
- 11 traveller and carrier support operators
With close to 1 in 5 people requiring ETIAS to travel to Europe from 2022, it is expected that the number of ETIAS Central Unit staff will increase to more than 200 members.
How many people travel to Europe each year?
Europe is the region of the world with the most international tourist arrivals; over 700 million people visited in 2019.
France, Spain, and Italy are amongst the most popular destinations for tourists. Many people also visit European countries on business trips.
Although COVID-19 has led to a significant decline in visitor numbers, tourism is expected to recover in the coming years.
From which countries do people visit Europe?
People visit Europe from all over the world. Americans made more than 36 million trips to Europe in 2019. As citizens of the US can visit Europe without a visa, those visiting for tourism or business will need to register with ETIAS.
Another nation making up a large proportion of international visitors to Europe is the United Kingdom. In 2019, 67 million Britons travelled to European countries. As a result of Brexit, British tourists will need to apply for ETIAS for Europe.
Millions of people also travel to Europe each year from Brazil, Canada, Japan, and New Zealand, many without a visa. ETIAS will be necessary from 2022.