The introduction of visa-free travel to the Schengen area has been postponed again

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The introduction of the new Schengen visa-free entry system has been postponed later than originally anticipated. According to the latest information from the European Union (EU), the launch of the ETIAS system is now expected in 2025, rather than 2024 as previously planned. The development of the European Tourist Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) has been underway for several years. The system will be mandatory for visitors to Schengen countries, including most EU countries as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. The reason for the latest postponement of ETIAS implementation was the lag in the development of the entry/exit system, the main data source on which ETIAS will be based.

The European agency eu-LISA, responsible for the implementation of the entry/exit control system, informed EU ministers on October 19, 2023 that more time is needed to make the required changes to the system. The entry/exit control system will be responsible for the electronic registration of tourists' passports when entering or leaving the Schengen area. It will basically replace the manual stamping of passports. Since ETIAS will be electronically linked to travelers' passports and will rely on the entry/exit system to read travel authorizations, the entry/exit system must be in place before ETIAS can become operational. As additional updates were made to the entry/exit system, the launch date was delayed. This has further delayed the launch of ETIAS.

The entry/exit system was expected to be launched in 2023, but the date has now been pushed back to the second half of 2024. Implementation is now planned for the first 6 months of 2025. Specific timelines have not yet been determined.

What are the implications of postponing the implementation of ETIAS for citizens?

The delay in the implementation of ETIAS has no significant impact on the planning of visits to Europe. When ETIAS is introduced in 2025, travelers who wish to visit Schengen countries will need to register online prior to travel to obtain visa-free travel authorization. Given the recent delay in the implementation of this system, citizens of visa-exempt countries will be able to continue their visits to Europe, showing only their passports, until 2025. For those who require a visa to visit Schengen countries, ETIAS does not affect their current situation. They must continue with the visa application process to visit their destination country.