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European Commission now set to delay ETIAS launch to 2025

The visa-waiver scheme has been delayed again, with authorities laying the blame at the feet of France’s Olympic Games organisers.

Australians won't need to apply for an ETIAS now until at least mid-2025.

The European Commission has laid the blame for the latest delay in the introduction of its ETIAS visa-waiver system stretching into 2025 at the door of the Paris Olympic Games.

Initially set to be introduced in 2021, the date for the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) to start accepting applications and take effect has now most likely been pushed back to the middle of 2025 at the earliest.

In addition to complications surrounding the 2024 Olympics, the latest challenges delaying the system involves the introduction of the EU Entry/Exit System (EES), a parallel database which will monitor the movements of travellers around participating European countries during their visit.

The latest gremlins to delay the ETIAS system include complex software glitches and data integration problems along with time-consuming data privacy concerns and security upgrades.

Authorities in France have also diverted resources away from the ETIAS implementation program in favour of digital infrastructure and security measures ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games, which begin in Paris in July next year.

For the time being, eligible travellers from visa-free countries can continue to travel without first applying and paying for an ETIAS pre-approval.

ETIAS will work with a parallel EES system to monitor travellers' movements around Europe.

First announced back in 2016, ETIAS is a visa-waiver program which when introduced, will require all travellers from countries who normally do not require a visa to enter, such as Australia and New Zealand, to apply for approval to travel to their destination country within the Schengen Area for up to 90 days over a six month period. The ETIAS will be valid for three years unless a traveller’s passport expires first.

The Schengen Area currently includes 23 of the 27 European Union member states, with three of the remaining four – Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania – set to join soon. Only the Republic of Ireland maintains an opt-out policy, however Australians and New Zealand travellers already do not need a visa to enter.

Once operational, travellers will need an ETIAS to enter any EU member country, with the €7 per person processing fee payable online during the application process. Visitors younger than 18 and older than 70 will still need an ETIAS but won’t need to pay the fee.

With the latest delay, the ETIAS system is now likely to be introduced around the same time as Great Britain introduces its £10 Electronic Travel Authorisation, meaning travellers planning on visiting both the U.K and Europe will need both authorisations for their trip.

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Written by: Matt Lennon
Published: 23 October 2023

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