Are you planning to travel to France and Europe this year? You’ll want to know about the latest changes coming into play at the border.
If you have a second home here or are just visiting, these changes affect non-EU citizens.
Here’s our easy guide to what’s happening, and when.
What are the changes?
The European Union has announced two new travel IT systems.
The first is the Entry and Exit System (EES) or ‘smart border.’ While the second is the EU Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS).
They are two separate systems, but interconnected. And they’re coming into play in 2023 and 2024.
Some of the new requirements for non-EU nationals are providing a fingerprint, and obtaining an authorization to enter the EU before you travel.
Why is this happening?
The new automated systems are being introduced to help improve border controls and security throughout Europe.
Think of them as a technological update. It uses new digitized information including your travel documents, photo, and your fingerprint, like the metric data added to passports in recent years.
The EU Entry and Exit System (EES) is an automated system for registering travelers from non-EU countries each time they cross an EU external border.
Using automated gates instead of manual checks, EES should speed things up. That said, there might be a delay the first time you have your fingerprint scanned. But it’s kept on file for three years, so you won’t need to do this every visit.
EES will register each time you use your passport. Its main purpose is to ensure travelers don’t stay longer than the permitted 90 days. If you exceed your allowance, EES will flag it up.
The only downside is if you like collecting stamps in your passports – they will now be digital.
What about the ETIAS scheme?
The second scheme, the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is separate, and comes into effect later.
ETIAS means you’ll need a travel authorization to enter France and many other countries in Europe – only if you’re a non-EU citizen who doesn’t have a long-stay visa or residency card.
It’s basically a new online visa application, and again, its purpose is to stop visitors from staying longer than the permitted 90 days in any 180-day period.
When the system goes live, you’ll have to fill in an online form before you leave home and travel to France and Europe. 72 hours before travel is the current suggestion.
A final thing – there will be a small charge for ETIAS. It’s €7, and valid for three years. Although there’s no fee for travelers under the age of 18 or over 70.
Does it affect how long I can stay?
No, the maximum length of stay for travelers is not changing.
At the moment, non-residents can stay in most EU countries for a combined total of 90 days within a 180-day period, without a tourist visa or other permit.
This is not just France, but a total of 90 days in the ‘Schengen’ area.
If you want to stay longer than the permitted 90 days, or want to work here, a visa is still required.
Overstayers will now flag up at the automated border, so it’s never been more important to stick to the rules, or face a fine.
When will travel to France and Europe change?
EES was originally scheduled for 2022. Then, a later date of May 2023. But now it’s looking like the changes may take a little longer.
While an exact date isn’t confirmed, some sources are pointing to the ‘smart borders’ starting sometime this fall.
ETIAS is then due for implementation sometime in 2024.
We will publish any changes and updates in this blog, so watch this space!
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