UK travellers will have to stump up the fee every three years as part of the EU’s new European Travel Information and Authorisation System. The scheme is set to finally enter into force after years of wrangling over how the bloc can bolster security at its borders. ETIAS will mean that citizens from more than 60 countries outside the Schegen free-travel zone, including the US and Australia, are required to pre-register for visa-free travel to Europe.
The pre-authorisation fee is expected to apply to around 40 million people, and will only be waived for under 18s and over 70s.
The scheme has been compared to the ESTA form required to visit the United States.
EU officials say that 95 percent of applications will be approved within minutes.
But anybody who arrives without prior authorisation is likely to be deported back to the UK.
Travellers will have to provide information about their identity, passport, education, job, recent travel and criminal convictions.
The EU’s Fronted border agents will cross-reference these details with various crime-fighting and migration databases.
Officials say the system will stop those “who may pose a risk to security or health, as well as compliance with migration rules”.
Once approved, the visa will remain valid for three years and can be used for multiple trips.
Travel firms will have to “systematically check” all passengers before boarding and face paying fines and repatriation costs for visa-less ones.
Britons will have to sign up to the scheme before travelling to tourist hotspots like France, Italy, Portugal and Spain.
An ETIAS won’t be required for trips to Ireland because it isn’t in the Schengen zone.
The European Commission said: “The rules entering into force today detail how ETIAS will work with other EU information systems it will query when conducting checks, namely the Entry/Exit System, the Visa Information System, the Schengen Information System and a centralised system for the identification of Member States holding conviction information on non-EU nationals.
“The set-up of ETIAS forms part of the EU’s ongoing work to put in place a state-of-the-art external border management system and making sure that information systems work together in an intelligent and targeted way.
“ETIAS will not change which non-EU countries are subject to a visa requirement and will also not introduce a new visa requirement for nationals of countries that are visa-exempt.
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“Visa-exempt non-EU nationals will only need a few minutes to fill in an online application which in a vast majority of cases (expected to be over 95 percent) will result in automatic approval.
“The process will be simple, fast and affordable: the ETIAS authorisation will cost €7, which will be a one-off fee, and will be valid for three years and for multiple entries.”