Upcoming changes for travel to Europe

The European Union is introducing two important changes for travel to Europe. These are:

  • EU Entry/Exit System (EES) which is due to come into force in autumn 2024.
  • European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), due in mid-2025. 

If you are travelling this summer, these changes won’t yet be in place, so there is nothing you need to do.

However, if you are planning to travel later this year or next year, we’ve provided some guidance on what you need to know about the upcoming changes. 

 

EU Entry/Exit Scheme (EES) – expected autumn 2024

The EU Entry/Exit system is a new electronic system that will replace the physical stamping of passports when you go through passport control when arriving in and departing from your destination. It will register all entries and exits to and from the participating European countries, which basically means it will register your movements every time you cross a border in or out of the EU/Schengen area.

Once the new system is live, when you go through passport control on your arrival to, and departure from your destination, as well as providing your passport you will also need to have a photo of your face taken, and your fingerprints scanned. 

EES is due to be introduced in autumn 2024, however an exact date is still to be confirmed. 

Who will it apply to?

It will apply to those travelling for a short stay, from what the EU call a ‘third country’.  This is people who are not an EU citizen or a citizen of the Schengen area. So it will apply to most people travelling from the UK.

A short stay refers to visits, holidays or business trips that have a duration of up to 90 days and are taken within a 180 day period. The vast majority of travel between the UK and Europe will be classed as a short stay. 

Irish passport holders are exempt from EES. If you are a British passport holder but have EU residency, you are also exempt from EES.

Which countries will it apply to?

When EES comes in, these are the countries that will be using it:

AustriaEstoniaIcelandMaltaSlovakia
BelgiumFinlandItalyNetherlandsSlovenia
BulgariaFranceLatviaNorwaySpain
CroatiaGermanyLiechtensteinPolandSweden
Czech RepublicGreeceLithuaniaPortugalSwitzerland
DenmarkHungaryLuxembourgRomania 

In Cyprus and Ireland, despite being countries of the European Union, passports are still stamped manually.

 

Travelling via the Port of Dover or international train (London St Pancras and Folkestone)

In most cases, the EES checks will take place in Europe – when you arrive at your destination airport or port, and when you leave at the end of your trip.

However, if you are departing via the Port of Dover or via international train from the UK (London St Pancras and Folkestone), then these checks will happen when going through the passport control in the UK, on your departure. 

This is because there is a dual border – both British and French borders – at these locations. 

However, you won’t need to do these checks again when you arrive on the other side.

More information on EES can be found here - EES - European Union (europa.eu)

 

European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) – expected mid-2025

ETIAS is the EU’s new travel authorisation which you will need to apply for ahead of your travels to the 30 European countries listed below once the system is introduced. It is a similar concept to the USA’s ESTA and the UK’s ETA scheme.

It is due to be introduced in mid-2025, but there is not yet an exact date as to when it will come into force. This means you do not need to have a ETIAS for travel to Europe at the moment. 

When implemented, travellers will be able to apply for an ETIAS by the official website – www.europa.eu/etias.

As the system is not live, the website itself is not live or taking applications, so you cannot yet get an official ETIAS. Any websites claiming to offer this are false.

Who will it apply to?

When the system is up and running in 2025, visa-exempt travellers from third countries will need to apply for an ETIAS. Put simply, if you are travelling to the EU for a short stay and are not a citizen of an EU or Schengen country, then you will need an ETIAS.  If you are travelling on a non-UK passport you will need to check if you require an ETIAS or a visa to go to Europe. 

A short stay refers to visits, holidays or business trips that have a duration of up to 90 days and are taken within a 180 day period. 

If you are travelling on a visa, you don’t need an ETIAS. 

Irish passport holders are exempt from ETIAS. If you are a British passport holder but have EU residency you also don’t need an ETIAS.

Which countries will it apply to?

These are the countries that travellers will need an ETIAS to enter, once ETIAS comes in:

AustriaDenmarkHungaryLuxembourgRomania
BelgiumEstoniaIcelandMaltaSlovakia
BulgariaFinlandItalyNetherlandsSlovenia
CroatiaFranceLatviaNorwaySpain
CyprusGermanyLiechtensteinPolandSweden
Czech RepublicGreeceLithuaiaPortugalSwitzerland

You will not need an ETIAS when travelling to Ireland, as this is part of the Common Travel Area.

How much will an ETIAS cost?

ETIAS will only cost €7 (equivalent to around £6). ETIAS is free for those under the age of 18 and aged 71 and over. Once ETIAS is live, certain travellers may be exempt. You can find the list of exemptions here.

How long will it be valid for?

ETIAS lasts for three years. You will be able to travel on multiple trips during this period using the same ETIAS.

However, if your passport expires during the ETIAS validity period, you will need to apply for a new ETIAS. 

It will also not be valid if it expires during your stay, in these cases you would need to apply for a new ETIAS in advance of your travels, to cover the duration of your stay. 

How to apply

There is one official website to apply for an ETIAS which is – www.europa.eu/etias. However, as ETIAS is not currently operational, applications via the website are not yet live.

You will need to do one application for each traveller, so if you are a parent applying for a child, they would need a separate application to your own.

You do have the option for someone to make an application on your behalf. If you want to do that, you will need to submit a form to show you give permission. More information will be available here – Applying on behalf of others - European Union (europa.eu)

What information do I need to provide?

For each application you will need to provide:

  • Personal information including name(s), date and place of birth, sex, nationality, home address, email address and phone number(s);
    Parents’ first name(s);
  • Passport/travel document details;
  • Level of education and current occupation;
  • Details about your intended travel and stay in any of the countries requiring ETIAS; 
  • Details about any past criminal convictions, past travels to war or conflict zones, and whether you have recently been the subject of an extradition.

You should make sure that the details on your ETIAS match that of your passport, if they don’t your ETIAS will not be valid and you will not be able to travel. If you are applying on behalf of someone else, then there may be additional information you need to provide. 

Fake websites offering ETIAS

There are currently more than 60 unofficial websites offering ETIAS, despite the system not yet being live. Don’t use an unofficial website: there’s the risk that you will be overcharged, that you won’t get an ETIAS and that your personal information could be stolen. 

The official ETIAS website is www.europa.eu/etias 

 

More information on ETIAS can be found here – ETIAS – European Union (europa.eu)