Entry requirements to Europe to be tightened |09 August 2023
● Seychelles one of 60 countries that will need authorisation to travel to Europe from 2024
Starting next year, the European Union will roll out a new entry requirement called the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS).
Under this new scheme, citizens of 60 countries – including Seychelles – will need a Travel Authorisation before travelling to Europe.
That is an estimated 1.4 billion people who will now need to apply and pay €7 to be screened, processed and vetted online before travel.
Crucially, like other Travel Authorisation systems in the US, Australia, Canada and here in Seychelles, it is not the same as a Visa and it does not ensure admission. On arrival a border agent or Immigration officer will still need to examine your passport and other paperwork to ensure that you satisfy the entrance requirements.
Why is this change happening?
As security risks continue to evolve, and with public health added to the list of potential border concerns following the pandemic, governments need to find smarter ways to protect their borders while remaining open to legitimate and low-risk travellers.
The European Commission says that ETIAS is “for the identification of security, irregular migration or high epidemic risks posed by visa-exempt visitors”.
Applicants will be screened against E.U. information systems for border and security.
Ultimately, governments need to know who plans to arrive, when and for how long.
Waiting until someone is already at the border can result in lengthy deportation processes, which cost time and money.
It also poses a security risk that can be avoided if high-risk passengers are identified ahead of time and are not permitted to travel.
According to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), governments use “online mechanisms to pre-vet foreign nationals prior to their commencement of travel and provide the passenger with a non-physical Travel Authorisation. This can be done as part of a lighter touch visa-waiver programme to maintain visa free travel for a selected segment of the travelling public”.
Better and more targeted screening will be essential for any country that wants to protect its citizens and maintain a positive reputation as a safe tourist destination, like Seychelles.
Are Travel Authorisations going to become more common?
Alongside the EU, the United Kingdom is also planning to roll out a Travel Authorisation from next year. The approval process is expected to take approximately 3 days although this could be longer if more information is requested. The UK’s Travel Authorisation system forms part of its broader Digital Borders strategy and reflects the growing need for better and more robust screening pre-travel.
It’s testament to the strength of the passport that Seychellois are able to travel the world freely, and in most cases without a visa. But for countries that want to maintain a visa-free regime in 2024, pre-travel screening is a necessity. And that is where Travel Authorisation systems play a key role.
Often countries enter into reciprocal arrangements, for example two governments may agree to a visa waiver for citizens when travelling between their two nations. With the introduction of Seychelles Electronic Border System and the biometric screening, Seychelles has been able to maintain its position as a leader in safe travel.
In turn, this reputation for security, safety and scrutiny ensures that we remain on visa waiver lists globally.
With the Seychelles Travel Authorisation system in place, we are already light-years ahead of where countries like the EU and UK are today, and are now reaping the benefits of maintaining a safe and secure border.