Tightening Security: EU Online Screening for Visa-Free Travel in the Making

Written by | Thursday, November 17th, 2016

The European Union is about to introduce an electronic system similar to that of the United States’ ESTA to get personal information on individuals entering the Schengen area visa-free. The security check will be a short online survey accompanied with a 5 EUR fee. The EU approved the screening yesterday (16 November). The system will check visitors’ identity documents and residence details against EU crime and security databases. For example, those visitors who have in the past overstayed their visa can be rejected just like the individuals who have committed crimes and offences registered in EU databases or are sought by Europol.

The new system is called ETIAS and it will give most travellers a permit for multiple travels within five years. EU policy makers hope that it will be put in place by 2020. The ETIAS will be used for citizens of about 60 countries who can enter the EU’s Schengen territory without a visa for short trips. This includes for example Americans and Canadians but also the British after Brexit or Georgians and Ukrainians who have recently been granted a visa-free status. If the EU moves forward with its promise to Turkey, Turkish citizens will be also covered by the ETIAS. However, the system will not apply to EU citizens, even if their country is not a member of the Schengen area.

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