Visas & borders: Travelling in Europe, what you need to know

The border-free Schengen Area guarantees free movement to more than 425 million EU citizens, along with non-EU nationals living in the EU or visiting the EU as tourists, exchange students or for business purposes (anyone legally present in the EU). Free movement of persons enables every EU citizen to travel, work and live in an EU country without special formalities. Schengen underpins this freedom by enabling citizens to move around the Schengen Area without being subject to border checks. 

Today, the Schengen Area encompasses 25 EU and 4 non-EU states (EFTA) most EU countries.

29 Countries are in the Schengen Area – Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, 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.

What are the new EU border requirements?

Entry/Exit System (EES) is expected to enter into force in Q4 2024, potentially from 6 October and ETIAS is expected to be implemented 6 months after EES (May/June 2025) for non-EU/non-EFTA nationals visiting the Schengen Area (also Cyprus for ETIAS only).

EES is expected to have an impact on carriers and border crossing points in the Schengen area and ETIAS on passengers and carriers.

Entry/Exit System (EES): Data Verification Obligation for Carriers and Controls at the Border 

The EES will register visa-free and visa-required travellers entering Europe for a short stay. No action will be required from travellers before they start their trip, as registration will be done at the external border of any of the 29 European countries using the system. The countries in question include the 27 Schengen countries, Bulgaria, and Romania. Registration on the EES will be done every time travellers cross external borders and will replace the manual stamping of passports.

The EES, will collect travellers’ facial image and fingerprints. It will also collect travel document data as well as the date and place where the traveller entered and exited the territory of European countries using the central EU database (managed by euLISA) capturing dates of entry and exit and calculating automatically the remaining days of stay allowed system.

Electronic Travel Information & Authorisation System (ETIAS)

These include the 27 countries belonging to the Schengen Area as well as Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Romania. With ETIAS, visa-free travellers will need to apply for a travel authorisation before starting their trip. ETIAS is not a visa, it is similar to other travel authorization systems already in place in countries like the USA (ESTA), Canada (eTA) or Australia. ETIAS will cost 7 EUR and be valid for 3 years

For more information on the impact of EES and ETIAS on cruise operations and ports, please see the CLIA presentation below:

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