Are you planning to visit Spain next year? Then there’s good news for you! Brits and other visitors to Spain have been preparing for the introduction of a new European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) which was due to come into force in November. But a new announcement has declared that the EU will now push the start date of the system back, again, to 2024. The exact date has not yet been decided and the decision is subject to further changes.
Here’s everything you need to know about how this new announcement might affect you:
What Is The ETIAS Programme?
The ETIAS is a visa waiver system that was supposed to be introduced this year. It has been designed to be similar to the ESTA programme that is required for entry into the USA and, just like the ESTA programme, this visa waiver system will have notable implications for British citizens.
It’s not just Britons that will be affected either. The residents of all third countries aged between 18 to 70 will need to apply for an ETIAS travel permit before they can visit either Spain or any of the other EU member states. This is both an extra administrative step that travelers will need to consider, as well as an extra financial consideration too.
Once it has been issued an ETIAS travel authorisation will be valid for three years, or until your passport expires (whichever is sooner). You can use your ETIAS travel authorisation to leave and return to the EU as many times as you wish but you still wont be able to spend more than 90 days in any 180 day period in the EU.
How Long Is The Delay?
Although the programme was supposed to be introduced in November of this year, the latest announcement from the EU is that the ETIAS will not be fully operational until at least May 2025. That doesn’t mean that the programme will be operational by May. The phrasing of the announcement has raised concerns that yet another significant delay in its rollout may be announced early next year.
Why Has There Been Another Delay?
The reason for the delay is because for the ETIAS programme to be successful, it is reliant on the introduction of another system called the Entry/Exit System. This system is intended to register third-country holidaymakers as they cross EU borders, and the ETIAS system cannot be introduced until the entry/exit system is operational.
The synchronisation of these two systems is meant to facilitate a seamless process for British travellers entering the EU. Which sounds like good news but at this point neither system is operational. The interdependence of these systems was emphasised by an EU official who said: "Both systems are deeply linked. Though the Entry/Exit System can function independently, it is impossible for ETIAS to become operational without the Entry/Exit System in place."
Because the EES must be operation for between 5-6 months before the ETIAS programme can be introduced, the actual introduction date of the ETIAS scheme is solely dependent on when EES is up and running.
How Has This Delay Been Received?
For Britons the delay in the ETIAS system has been welcomed. It means that Britons can still visit Spain, and the rest of Europe, without the need to pay or complete any extra paperwork.
But for those who have witnessed extensive protests against Brexit and its perceived negative consequences, including calls for a reversal and rejoining the EU, the delay in ETIAS implementation is seen as yet another setback. For those welcoming the introduction of the ETIAS system, the further delay can only be frustrating. The EU have made promised that they are unable to fulfil.
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