Before Covid was a thing, Europe had announced that they would be instituting the ESTIAS – European Travel Information and Authorization System – for people that wanted to visit Europe from the US or Britain. Once again, the ETIAS has been postponed.
The ESTIAS Has Been Postponed – Again
Three years ago was when I first wrote about the new ESTIAS that was supposed to be introduced in 2021. Then, due to Covid, it was postponed until 2022. Then, again, it was postponed until next spring, 2023. Now, the ESTIAS has been postpone again, this time until November 2023.
What is the ESTIAS?
A lot of people may be wondering right now “what is the ESTIAS?” The answer is that the ESTIAS is a new authorization system for Americans and Brits that will require those travelers to fill out an online form and pay €7 to visit Europe. This needs to be be done once every 3 years. So, once you get it, you are good to go for travel back and forth to Europe for those 3 years.
Is the ESTIAS a Visa?
No! Many people get confused and think that the ESTIAS is a visa. Americans and Brits already have visa-free waivers that apply and that allow them to stay in the Schengen area for 90 days as tourists. The ESTIAS is a travel authorization that is essentially an easy way for the EU to reciprocate against the US for our ESTA that we have for European travelers – and put some money in their EU pocket at the same time.
The system is being billed as an authorization system that will take down your information and then clear you for travel – in as little as minutes (though it could take a couple of days). If there is a denial, the passport holder will have a chance to make an appeal.
Sure, “visa” and “ESTIAS” may sound similar in their use and it may be semantics over their differences but the EU has made it clear many times that they do not consider this a visa, particularly because it applies for visa-exempt travelers.
When Will the ESTIAS Start?
So, it was first 2021, then 2022, then spring of 2023, and now it is November of 2023. The EU cites their operational system status in saying that it is expected to be in place by that time. So, apparently, their systems were not ready for a roll-out in 9 months time. With a system like this, you absolutely want it working from the very first day! Can you imagine the headaches that would come from such a system having roll-out issues?
All systems have glitches/roll-out issues so I am sure we will find some with this as well but hopefully it will be an overall easy process once it kicks in. At least US travelers won’t have to worry about it for another 15 months!