The European Commission has once again delayed the introduction of a fee to authorise travel to Europe until at least 2025.
The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (or ETIAS) will now come into force in mid-2025 at the earliest, according to the government’s official website for the programme. The delay was approved by the EU’s Justice and Home Affairs Council on Friday.
“The new roadmap for the implementation of the new IT architecture foresees … that ETIAS will be operational in spring 2025,” the Justice and Home Affairs Council said in a statement.
The ETIAS fee was originally due to be operational in 2021, but was first delayed to November 2023 and then again to early 2024 before this latest delay.
The fee, which will cost €7 ($7.44), will be required for travellers from visa waiver countries, including the United States, to enter 30 different European countries. The fee will be valid for three years or until an individual’s travel document expires.
Travellers under 18 or over 70 will still need to apply for the authorisation, but will be exempt from paying the fee.
In addition to ETIAS, dozens of European countries will introduce a new Entry/Exit System (EES) next year, which will replace passport stamps with a high-tech scanning process. According to the EU’s Justice and Home Affairs Council, this system will be “ready to go live in autumn 2024”.
Europe is not alone in introducing a travel authorisation fee. The UK is introducing a similar Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) system that will eventually require all visa-free foreign visitors, including those from the US, to apply online in advance. The UK is implementing the programme in phases as part of the country’s efforts to fully digitise its borders by 2025.
The US also has its own authorisation for foreign visitors, the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). The programme, which costs $21, is available to travellers from countries that are part of the Visa Waiver Program.