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Stronger and Smart EU Borders: Upcoming Changes Affecting Travel to/from the Schengen Area

Two major changes with regard to crossings of the external borders of Schengen States by third-country nationals (‘TCNs’), namely the Entry/Exit System (‘EES’) and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (‘ETIAS’), are expected to become operational by 2024.[1] These changes shall complement the Schengen acquis for external border checks and short-stay visas, by:

  • monitoring and recording the movements of admitted TCNs, to facilitate the identification and detection of overstayers, and
  • providing for a thorough assessment of TCNs before arriving at external border crossing points, to determine whether they could pose a security, illegal immigration or high epidemic risk in the EU.

The EES will register electronically the date, time and place of entry and exit of TCNs, both short-stay visa holders and visa-exempt travellers, thereby replacing the current system of manual stamping of passports. It comprises of an automated calculator, which will verify compliance with the 90/180-day rule and generate alerts to the authorities where the duration of authorised stay has expired.

TCNs will have their fingerprints scanned and a facial image taken, to be entered into the EES database, at the borders where EES is operated. The type and number of the travel document(s) used by an individual may also be held on file. Through the EES, the authorities will have access to not only the entry/exit records but also any records of refusals linked to an individual.

The EES will be consulted by the authorities for the purposes of checking whether the conditions for admission or stay on the territory of a Member State are fulfilled and of examining and adopting decisions relating to visa applications. The operation and use of the EES will be carried out in full respect of data security and data protection rules as well as fundamental rights.

The EES will work in conjunction with ETIAS, which imposes a new condition for admission of TCNs who are exempt from the requirement of being in possession of a visa when crossing the external borders of Schengen States. Accordingly, such TCNs will be admitted if they have not been flagged by the EES and hold a valid ETIAS approval.

Qualifying TCNs will be required to apply for ETIAS approval by completing an online form in advance of any intended travel to the Schengen area, providing information relating to their identity, travel document, residence, contact details, educational level and occupation. Applicants will further be required to disclose any criminal convictions, stays in war or conflict zones, and removal/return decisions they have been subject to.

The online form will be screened against data found in existing databases for borders and security. Once the ETIAS has been approved, it will be valid for three years or until the expiry of the travel document registered during the application.

Employers and TCNs are advised to take note of these upcoming changes when planning any trips or business visits to the Schengen area. For further information on EES and ETIAS, kindly get in touch with Edward Mizzi ( and Kristina Abela (

[1] An exact date for the entry into operation of EES and ETIAS is not available yet. As reported by Schengen Visa, the timeline for these changes to become fully operational will be revised and discussed at the appropriate bodies and communicated in due course.

Kristina Abela

Two major changes with regard to crossings of the external borders of Schengen States by third-country nationals (‘TCNs’), namely the En...

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