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What's the latest on the rollout of the EU's new ETIAS and EES travel rules?

Claudia Delpero, Europe Street
Claudia Delpero, Europe Street - [email protected]
What's the latest on the rollout of the EU's new ETIAS and EES travel rules?
What's the latest on the roll out of EES and ETIAS. (Photo by Alessandro RAMPAZZO / AFP)

The EU's planned new digital border entry systems ETIAS and EES have been hit by repeated delays - so here's the latest on when they will be rolled out, whether there will be any grace periods after introduction and the websites travellers need to know about.


After several delays, we should soon know an accurate timeline for the entry into operation of the new digital EU border systems and travel authorisation rules which will affect non-EU citizens travelling to the Schengen area.

As agreed by EU ministers in June, the updated timeline for the “technical readiness" of the EU Entry/Exit System (EES) and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) (see below for a reminder of what EES and ETIAS are) should be presented at the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on October 19th.

“The overall phased timeline from technical readiness to full deployment, including the readiness of all member states to use the systems, is subject to approval and decisions at governance and EU institutional level, involving all member states,” read an email from the press office of the EU agency in charge of the implementing the technology.

But what is happening in preparation for the roll out of the EES entry system and the ETIAS travel authorisation scheme and what will happen after the start of new border checks? Here is what we know up until now.


When could the launch happen?

After so many delays it's perhaps futile to speculate, but for the moment EES is likely to be introduced in late 2024 and then for ETIAS it will be spring 2025 at the earliest.

While the much-anticipated dates for the launch of these schemes is still being being prepared, it has already been agreed that it won't happen over the summer or the Christmas/New Year periods because of the number of people travelling at those times.

France, for its part, has requested the postponement of the launch of EES until after the Paris Olympics, which are in July and August of 2024.


So the possible start date for EES could be autumn 2024.

The introduction of ETIAS is expected six months after EES has been rolled out - so spring 2025 at the earliest.

“The Commission remains committed to make the Entry/Exit System and ETIAS operational as soon as possible,” Anitta Hipper, spokesperson for home affairs, told The Local.

Information campaign

Hipper also said that “a worldwide information campaign is in preparation” to inform travellers of how the two systems will work.

Given the scale of the operation, industry associations representing airlines in January called on European authorities to plan a communications campaign to alert non-EU nationals about the new requirements.


EU-LISA, the agency in charge of the technology confirmed that the public information campaign will be launched six months before the ETIAS becomes operational.

“It will be conducted in 19 languages, including 13 non-EU languages, in third countries, at major travel hubs and at border crossing points in the 30 European countries,” the agency said.

Preparations for airlines, ferries and rail companies

Air, land and sea carriers are also preparing for the implementation of the new border system. They will be responsible for checking - before boarding - that passengers have the correct travel authorisation.


For the EES, they will have to verify if the passenger travelling to the EU has already used the number or allowed entries authorised by their visa (a visa could be single entry or allow for multiple entries). For the ETIAS, they will have to check that they have a valid authorisation.

Currently, companies simply check the passport at check in. In the future, carriers will have to send verification queries to passengers at the earliest 48 hours prior to departure in order to check if they are ‘OK’ or ‘NOT OK’ to travel using a dedicated web service, the ‘carrier interface’.

If a carrier boards a person without querying the interface and the traveller is then refused entry at the border, the company will have to take the passenger back and face penalties. If a person is refused entry after the ‘OK’ from the interface, there will be no penalties but the carrier will still have to take the person back.

Preparation for passengers

A web service is also being prepared to allow non-EU citizens to verify the status of their authorised stay in the EU.

When ETIAS will launch, applications will open via an app and on the website Currently the website only provides information about the scheme.

“We are also working on a search engine optimisation strategy to make sure the ETIAS website is easy to find in online searches,” Hipper added.

EU authorities specify that it is not possible yet to apply for ETIAS and is the only ETIAS official website. It will be possible to mandate the application to third parties, but Frontex has already issued a warning about the proliferation of unofficial websites and scams.

Will there be a grace period?

A transitional period will follow the launch of ETIAS. For the first six months, if a traveller does not have a valid travel authorisation, border authorities will let them through, as long as they have a valid travel document and fulfil the entry conditions.

After that, there will be a six-month ‘last chance’ grace period, during which travellers without ETIAS entering for the first time the Schengen area will be allowed to cross the border as long as they fulfil all entry conditions.

What about data storage?

The EES data will remain in the databases for three years on a rolling basis, re-starting the period at each entry.

The ETIAS will be valid for three years or until the passport used in the application expires, whichever comes first. An email will alert travellers 120 days before the expiry of their ETIAS, with the possibility to apply for a new travel authorisation.

If an ETIAS application was refused or revoked or annulled, the file will be stored in the EU database for up to five years.

A reminder of what are EES and ETIAS

The EU’s Entry/Exit System (EES) is a digital scheme to register non-EU citizens each time they cross the external borders of the Schengen Area. The EES will replace the manual stamping of passports with an electronic record of entries and exits.

The system was conceived to tighten up border security, including the enforcement of the rule of maximum 90-day stays in any 180-day period for non-EU visitors.

The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) will require people from visa-exempt non-EU countries, such as the UK and the US, who travel to the Schengen area for short stays to apply for a travel authorisation, basically a visa waiver, before departure. The cost will be €7, but it will be free for applicants who are under 18 or above 70 years of age, or family members of EU citizens or of nationals of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.

Similar travel authorisations exist in the US, Canada and Australia, and the UK will launch its own soon.

ETIAS and EES will not apply for non-EU residents of EU countries, so for example Britons with a valid residency card for France or Austria will just need to show that at the border. As things stand they will not need to get an ETIAS visa waiver or register with EES.

Find the full explanation of how the they work HERE.

This article was produced ion collaboration with Europe Street news.



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