Due to ‘unforeseen delays’, described by a EU official, the highly anticipated European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) will not be operational until 2025, pushing the estimated completion back by a year. The delay echos similar frustration with the EU Entry/Exit System which has continuously passed set dates for its launch.

It has now surpassed 3 years since the plans for ETIAS were originally set in motion with dogged delays since November 2023.

With what will transform efficiencies in travel, the Entry/Exit System premise is to create an automated IT system for registering travellers visiting the EU from third countries and encompass both short-stay visa and non-visa holders. Such a large scale implementation of critical IT infrastructure has proven a mighty task and as such, the primitive date to provision the Entry/Exit System was considered to be too premature and untenable due to challenges with contractors. This overhaul of travel will take place in “late” 2023, although the exact delivery is vague. Stakeholders shall continue their preparation and coordination accordingly to be ready for the next target date by the end of 2023.

Simultaneously, the delay of ETIAS is expected to have had a domino effect on the Entry/Exit System as the EU’s proposed electronic travel authorisation system to validate travellers digitally and remotely collecting their flight and personal information via mobile applications. Designed too for visitors from non-European countries, the ETIAS is postponed now until “late” 2023.

When the scheme is implemented, EES will register the traveller’s name, biometrics such as fingerprints and capture facial images, the type of the travel document, and the precise data and location of entry and exit with full sight of data protection rights.

A statement read by a EU representative read: “Due to unforeseen delays, it has become evident that this timeline is unattainable. As a result, the implementation of the ETIAS has been rescheduled to May 2025, with the possibility of further postponement”.

Interlinked, both schemes are affected by disruptions which Frontex’s Claudio Kavrecic examined while giving a keynote presentation at the flagship Identity Week Europe 2023, which took place in June. An unprecedented humanitarian crisis, which continues to be exacerbated by new conflicts, is unfolding at overwhelmed border crossings. Hence, he spoke about the complexity of deploying biometric pilots and progressing systems involving mass data collection through the ETIAS and EES. 

“Though the Entry/Exit can function properly without the ETIAS, it is impossible for the latter to become operational without the EES”.  The operation of ETIAS can only begin 5 or 6 months after the operation of EES.