Given the likely increase in media coverage of the entry regulations changes for Europe over the next 12 to 18 months, our Members can expect to receive more questions from clients. While ETIAS (EU’s US-style visa waiver scheme) is not scheduled for introduction until mid 2025, it will apply to almost all British passport holders. We have assembled this initial briefing, so please do take the time to read it and encourage colleagues to familiarise with the official ETIAS website.


Background, Scope and Roll Out of New Regulations

In April of 2016 the European Commission (EU) established the concept of strengthening its external borders and screening third-country nationals** with the objective of protecting member countries from external threats – such as non-regular migration and terrorism.


As a result of negotiation with the EU Parliament and EU Council, the EES (European Entry / Exit Scheme) regulation was adopted in November 2017 and the regulation needed to create the ETIAS (European Travel Information & Authorisation Scheme) took effect from October 2018.


Over the coming year to 18 months the resulting new European border rules (EES + ETIAS) are set to ‘go live’ – changing the way third-country nationals** travel to the following 30 countries (excluding Ireland), comprising:


Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus (ETIAS only), Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland


** This group includes British travellers (business + leisure) as the UK is now a third-country, following Brexit. It excludes British travellers already living in Europe when Brexit took effect



Automated IT system designed to register travellers from non-EU countries – including the UK – using biometric checks when the traveller crosses an external EU border (refer to list above).


System will replace current passport stamping process by registering the traveller’s information – including name, travel document type and biometric information (eg fingerprints; facial image).


EES will also record if a traveller has been refused entry previously or has overstayed the maximum permitted time in the participating countries.


Scheduled date of commencement | Autumn 2024





ESTA (US)-style visa waiver scheme allowing leisure travellers from 60 visa-exempt countries – including the UK- to enter 30 European countries (refer to list above).


  • scheme will cost €7 (£6) per person and will be linked to traveller’s passport

  • valid for up to 3 years or until the passport expires

  • allows third-country national to stay in participating countries for up to 90 days in a 6 month period


NB | ETIAS does not guarantee entrance into participating countries. Entrance is subject to arrival-check by border agents.


Expected date of commencement | Mid-2025 earliest



The sole official ETIAS website is already in operation, but it does not yet permit applications, since introduction of the scheme has been delayed until mid-2025 at the earliest.


In common with the ESTA (US) scheme, the ETIAS scheme is already the subject of ‘fake’ websites, offering a variety of differing costs and discounts. Reference to these rogue websites should be avoided in all circumstances.


The official ETIAS website is accessible for information.