Terrorist attacks have been on the rise in Europe and threat levels are the highest they have been. In response to this, the European Union created the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), an automated system designed to filter out high-risk travelers and ensure only genuine tourists make it through.
It will add an extra step to the travel process for many visitors to the Schengen Zone, but it will make the region safer and it will also make life easier for border officials in those member states.
How Will Border Authorities Use ETIAS?
Travelers from around 60 nations must have an ETIAS authorization before visiting the Schengen Zone after late-2022. This is true for those visiting by land and sea, as well as those flying in from the region’s hundreds of airports.
If authorization is not given or an application is not processed, travelers will be refused access and turned away.
Once authorization is granted, it will be associated with the applicant’s passport. There are no additional documents to carry or codes to scan—it’s all part of the passport.
When travelers pass through a border checkpoint and hand over their passport for inspection, it will be scanned by border officials. The scan will check to make sure of the following:
- ETIAS authorization has been granted
- The ETIAS travel period has not expired
- The ETIAS has not been revoked or annulled
- The traveler has not been placed on the ETIAS Watchlist
If the authorized user is deemed to be a security threat at any time during the 3-year validity period, they could lose their ETIAS.
Can Border Authorities Access Everything?
There is a lot of information in the ETIAS Central Unit, including all personal and travel information submitted by applicants. It’s a very sensitive database and so only a few select agencies and authorized individuals will be granted access.
Border officials will not be able to see everything about the individual, but they can see the authorization dates and whether there are any red flags next to the traveler’s name.
Can Border Authorities Refuse Access?
The border agents are within their rights to refuse entry to an individual even if they have a valid ETIAS. They will always have the last say and can deny entry to anyone they deem to be a threat to national security.
Furthermore, they may deny access if there is a technical issue that stops them from seeing the ETIAS status, or if the traveler has forgotten their passport.