(CNN) — The time has finally come: the end of free travel to the European Union.
The EU has announced the launch of its long-awaited visa waiver scheme, ETIAS, which will start in May 2023.
While ETIAS isn’t the same as a visa — it’s faster, done online, and doesn’t require biometric information — there is still a process and cost involved in getting it, much like the United States’ ESTA scheme.
ETIAS, which stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System, was previously planned for the end of 2022.
EU travelers are exempt and have freedom of movement throughout the bloc, allowing them to spend as much time in many countries as they want. EU residents are also exempt.
But for anyone entering the bloc from a country that previously did not require a visa, the ETIAS is mandatory. The move will affect about 60 countries, including the US and UK, which lost freedom of movement after Brexit. Nothing changes for those who previously required a visa to enter.
The application process is through a “largely automated IT system”, with approval being granted “within minutes” for an estimated 95% of applicants, according to a new memo issued by the EU. The maximum time required for approval can be up to a month in “very exceptional cases”. Anyone whose application is rejected has the right to appeal.
ETIAS authorization will be valid for an unlimited number of entries for three years. However, holders must abide by immigration and overstay rules. Currently, third party nationals cannot stay in the block for more than 90 days in its entirety, for any 180-day period.
The cost: €7 ($7.35) for 18- to 70-year-olds. It is not yet clear whether others have a reduced rate or can apply for free. In comparison, the US charges $21 for an ESTA authorization.
The start date for applications has not yet been announced.
Top Image Credit: Artem Kamyshenkov/Adobe Stock