European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS)

Logo ISF
Logo ETIAS

ETIAS is the new European travel authorisation system similar to the US Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

Overview

Third-country nationals who do not require a visa to enter the Schengen area must apply online for ETIAS travel authorisation before travelling to the Schengen area. Authorisation costs EUR 7 and is valid for three years.

On 9 October 2018, the EU adopted the Regulation establishing the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS Regulation). This is a further step in the development of the Schengen acquis and must be adopted by Switzerland.

ETIAS conducts a largely automated risk screening of travellers to ensure greater internal security, prevent illegal immigration and protect public health. Prior risk assessments close existing information and security gaps, thereby increasing the effectiveness of border control. ETIAS travel authorisation is a new condition for visa-free third-country nationals entering the Schengen area. Travellers are not automatically granted authorisation; without it, they will be refused entry into the Schengen area. Carriers will be required to check that their passengers have valid ETIAS travel authorisation at the start of their journey.

ETIAS is designed to enhance internal security while allowing visa-exempt third-country nationals to travel freely.

Present situation at EU level

The IT agency of the European Union eu-LISA is responsible for the technical development and operation of the ETIAS central system (ETIAS CS). Currently, the ETIAS go-live is expected in May 2025 at the earliest.

The ETIAS Central Unit will be set up as part of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex, and will carry out the manual preliminary examination of applications and determine which member state is responsible for taking the application further. Only those cases in which travel authorisation cannot be issued in the automated process will be checked manually.

Present situation in Switzerland

On 25 September 2020, the Federal Assembly approved the adoption and implementation of Regulation (EU) 2018/1240 on the Establishment of a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). No referendum was called by the deadline of 14 January 2021.

In the meantime, the EU has amended Regulation (EU) 2018/1240 with Regulations (EU) 2021/1150 and (EU) 2021/1152, which were adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union on 7 July 2021. The Federal Council approved the adoption of the regulations on 11 August 2021, subject to parliamentary approval. On May 18, 2022, the Federal Council approved the message on the takeover and implementation of the ordinances amending ETIAS. The Parliament adopted the project in December 2022.

Various federal and cantonal bodies in Switzerland are responsible for implementing the ETIAS Regulation. National systems need to be connected at a technical level to the EU's ETIAS central system (ETIAS CS). In addition, a national ETIAS unit (NEU) is to be set up within SEM; the unit's main task will be to manually examine applications in Switzerland's area of responsibility. Finally, it will be necessary to create a central access point for the security and law enforcement authorities (ZZS).

The SEM's ETIAS project aims to implement the ETIAS Regulation within the SEM's area of responsibility. In the concept phase between mid-2019 and mid-2021, the foundations for the structural and procedural organization were developed with the business organization concept. The system concept for the system components to be developed nationally was also drawn up.

In the implementation phase, which has been ongoing since summer 2021, the focus is on developing the national system. On the one hand, an access component (CEAC) is to be developed to connect the national systems to the ETIAS central system and, on the other, a specialist application (N-ETIAS) to support the business processes. The lead for the development of the national ETIAS office lies with the specialist line in the Immigration Division. The project team supports the specialist line in developing the necessary foundations for implementing the ETIAS business processes.

The SEM's ETIAS project does not include the necessary adjustments to the national systems for the use of read access to the ETIAS central system and the respective business processes of the border control, immigration and law enforcement authorities.

Switzerland is implementing the new legislation in line with the EU schedule. SEM actively participates in the working and expert groups of the European Commission, the IT agency eu-LISA and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex.

Last modification 19.06.2024

Top of page