The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is a vast and complicated system that was in the works for many years. It was designed to safeguard the borders of the Schengen Zone and it does this by requiring applicants from 60 countries to complete an ETIAS application.
But that application and the resulting visa waiver authorization is far from a formality. All applications are checked against a massive central database that checks for security risks, delving into the applicant’s criminal and travel activities to determine whether or not they pose a threat to the zone and its member states.
As part of the process, an ETIAS Watchlist is compiled to highlight the travelers that are deemed most at-risk. If you find yourself on this list, gaining access to the Schengen Zone could be very complicated.
What Is The ETIAS Watchlist?
All ETIAS applications are stored in an ETIAS Central Unit. From here, they can be accessed by agencies like Europol and will also be checked against data from major European and national crime agencies. Details are cross-checked by Frontex, the border agency for the zone, and they will determine who is refused and accepted.
If you are deemed to be a terrorist risk, whether justly or not, the system will place you on a watchlist and will likely refuse access to the Schengen Zone.
The ETIAS system, and the ETIAS Watchlist, allows national and international organizations to collate data relating to criminal and terrorist activity. Before the implementation of ETIAS, it wasn’t uncommon for a person’s criminal status and terrorist risk to be known only to a single crime agency. That person could, theoretically, travel to multiple nations without raising any alarms.
ETIAS changes all of that and ensures that tabs are kept on those individuals and they are refused access to the Schengen Zone.
What is Included on the ETIAS Watchlist?
The ETIAS Watchlist will include details of individuals who have been suspected or convicted of serious criminal activity. These details may include:
- Full Legal Name and Other Known Names
- Date of Birth
- Passport Details
- Country and Nationality
- Home Address and Other Addresses
- Email Address
- Telephone Number
- Details of Trips (including “suspicious visits” to areas of conflict)
Who Is Included on the ETIAS Watchlist?
The ETIAS Watchlist focuses on serious criminals and those suspected of serious crimes. These crimes include terrorism, drug smuggling, human trafficking, and violent crimes.
It wasn’t designed to discriminate against people with minor criminal records and you don’t need to worry about a few petty juvenile offenses, nor do you need to concern yourself with crimes such as criminal damage, shoplifting, and other such offenses.
They may be enough to raise a red flag, especially if they occurred recently or if there are many offenses on your record, but the ETIAS focuses mainly on serious crimes.
Can I Be Mistakenly Placed on the ETIAS Watchlist?
You don’t need to have been convicted of a crime to find yourself on the ETIAS Watchlist. It includes individuals who are deemed to be “suspicious”, whether because they have been linked with a serious criminal or because they have visited war zones and areas of conflict.
It is possible for you to be perfectly innocent and still find yourself on this list. In such cases, you just need to follow procedure, be compliant, and fight your case. It’s also possible that an error was made, in which case it should be rectified pretty quickly.