United States citizens are about to experience changes reminiscent of international travel as the European Union introduces revisions to its border entry procedures. The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is set to streamline the entry process for non-visa passport holders, requiring a quick online application for security screening at a nominal fee of seven euros every three years. Similar to the U.S. Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which has been in place since 2008, ETIAS has faced delays and adjustments over the past decade.
A crucial component of ETIAS, the Entry-Exit System (EES), employs fingerprint technology to replace passport stamps and digitally track individuals’ time spent in the EU. After several delays, the rollout for the EES is scheduled for October 6, 2024.
Travelers passing through EU airports from this date onward will need to register their fingerprints and facial data, allowing authorities to monitor their duration of stay in the EU. The implementation has sparked debates about potential slowdowns at airports already grappling with overcrowding issues.
Nicolas Paulissen, Union of French Airports delegate, expressed confidence in readiness for the EES rollout, stating, “The kiosks have been tested in Paris and are being reworked for improvements—but we will be ready, especially as we are sure now EES will start after the Olympics, even perhaps at the start of 2025.”
The European Union’s Home Affairs website assures that the system will register essential information in full compliance with fundamental rights and data protection, including the person’s name, travel document type, biometric data (fingerprints and captured facial images), and the date and place of entry and exit.