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EU delays the ETIAS visitor registration service again, until 2024

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The good news for anyone who wants a pain-free trip to Europe is that the new ETIAS visa waiver scheme has been delayed again. It will not go live until 2024.

ETIAS is a clone of the ESTA system operated by the United States. Anyone visiting the Schengen area who does not require a full Visa will need to apply in advance for ETIAS approval.

The cost will be €7.

The problem is not ETIAS itself but the ID requirements. The system requires that you are photographed and fingerprinted on your first entry into the EU with an ETIAS waiver. This is likely to take around five minutes per visitor, which would lead to chaos in the first few months at airports and ports.

Eurostar is seen as a particularly tough nut to crack. Queues already stretch around St Pancras at peak times due to the small number of immigration desks – dictated by the space available – and there is no easy solution.

This isn’t a one off blip either. New photographs and fingerprints will be required whenever your ETIAS waiver is renewed, which will be every three years or even sooner if your passport is replaced.

The sensible option would be to set up registration offices in towns around the UK to allow travellers to visit at their convenience before a trip and have their fingerprints and a photograph taken. Airlines could insist that proof of fingerprinting was produced before boarding passes were issued. Unfortunately this is almost certainly too sensible to happen.

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