Frontex and the ETIAS will help improve European Border security and safety

By jmarble on Mon, 01/17/2022 - 23:07


What is Frontex and how will it be involved in the ETIAS visa waiver?

Frontex is an agency of the European Union (EU) that coordinates border control for EU member states, as well as for Schengen Area countries. Its official name is the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. A new EU border control program is scheduled to launch in late 2022— the European Travel Information and Authorization System. Learn more in this article about ETIAS and the role of Frontex in the EU. 

What is Frontex and what role does it play in Europe?

Frontex is the European agency responsible for coordinating border control (and entry) across EU and Schengen Area states. Their mission is to protect the area’s frontier borders for both citizens and visitors.

They may assist in:

  • Data analysis and information-sharing
  • Risk assessment
  • Overseeing joint operations
  • Responding to migratory issues, natural disasters, etc.
  • Training border authorities
  • Returning unauthorized migrants
  • Research

The agency only supports the borders of Schengen Zone or European Union countries. European states outside of this area are responsible for their own border control and protection.

What is the ETIAS - European Travel Information and Authorization System?

ETIAS is a new visa waiver program that is scheduled to launch in late 2022. Until now, Americans have been able to take short-term (90 days or fewer) leisure and business trips to the Europe with just a plane ticket and a valid passport. Now, when this convenient visa waiver program launches, US nationals and citizens from 60 other countries will be required to apply in advance for travel authorization. Approved travelers will be authorized to enter Europe’s Schengen Area countries through any countries borders within the Schengen Zone including France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Germany, Austria, and other Schengen member states, (countries.) 

This system will keep track of all short-term travel across the external borders of the region. Also, as part of the application process, all applications will be processed through several European security databases to check for potential security or migration risks. 

What is the ETIAS Central Unit?

The ETIAS Central Unit is the group that will oversee the ETIAS program. The Central Unit will take on all administrative and data-related tasks and will also oversee the entire electronic system. Unit agents will manually review any applications that have been flagged, and the Central Unit will also make regulation and systems updates as needed. 

How will Frontex be involved in the ETIAS program?

Frontex manages the ETIAS Central Unit and is responsible for staffing the agency from across multiple offices. At the heart of the ETIAS authorization is improving border control, which is the chief mission of Frontex. This agency will ensure that the Central Unit maintains the ETIAS travel waiver program with a focus on data integrity and privacy.

What is ETIAS Travel Visa Waiver?

One of the most common questions remains, “What is the ETIAS?” ETIAS is the acronym for the European Travel Information and Authorization System. It is visa waiver program for nationals of countries, such as the United States, who are currently not required to have a Visa to visit Europe.

When the European travel waiver program launches, Americans and other foreign nationals form eligible countries will be required to have either the ETIAS visa waiver or a traditional Schengen Visa. If you’re traveling for business or leisure for a total of 90 days or fewer during any 180 day period, the visa waiver is recommended. It costs less, has a less complicated application process, and is valid for three years, or until your passport expires, whichever occurs first.

The ETIAS application will be completed completely online and can be done so quickly. However, all of the biographical information must be 100% accurate and match the information on your valid passport exactly. Inaccuracies in the application may result in delays, or possibly denial. Payment options will include popular credit cards and debit cards and a valid email address is where a traveler’s electronic authorization for visa-free EU travel will be issued. The application process will be entirely online.

Most applicants are expected to be approved within 24-36 hours, but some applications may be flagged for further review. This could be due application errors, but in some cases it may have flagged a ‘hit’ from one of several European security databases. The Central Unit conducts a manual review and will either approve or deny. These reviews may take up to 30 days. All of this is part of the detailed and ultra secure nature of the new border security initiatives of the European Travel and Information and Authorization System.

In the event the ETIAS application is denied, Americans will still be able to apply for a traditional visa, which has a more robust screening process and a longer processing time.

Once approved, Americans and citizens of dozens of other eligible countries, will be permitted to travel across all internal borders of the region without the need for additional authorization documents. You also won’t need to worry about carrying another document; the waiver will be electronically tied to your passport. When you approach the external border, simply submit your passport, which will be scanned and checked for pre-authorization. Do keep in mind that entry of any foreign national is ultimately at the sole discretion of the border control agents.

European border control agents anticipate that the visa waiver will save significant processing time at the border, meaning American tourists will have more time to explore Europe!

Traveling to the European Union with the ETIAS

With this new waiver program, one can travel to any EU or Schengen Area country, with a few exceptions.

ETIAS countries that require the visa waiver include: EU members: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic,  Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands,  Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

Non-EU members: Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Switzerland

De-facto microstates part of the Schengen Area: Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City
The European countries that do not require the waiver are Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus. Some of these countries will require it in the future. 

Other helpful articles about the ETIAS, Eligibility and European Travel

What is the European Travel Information & Authorization System? 

Will Americans need the ETIAS Authorization in 2022?

Traveling to Europe: What you need to know 


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