EU border control agency warns of 60 unofficial Etias websites

Frontex – the EU’s border control agency responsible for the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (Etias) – has warned there are already 60 unofficial Etias websites.

Etias is a new visa waiver programme for non-EU travellers, due to come into force in mid-2025. When live, customers will need to apply for an Etias, ahead of travel, via the official website:

Abta will hold a webinar next month with European Union experts and officials to update members about the Etias scheme.

The webinar will also discuss the introduction of the EU Entry Exit System (EES), scheduled to be introduced in autumn 2024.

The EES will register non-EU/Schengen citizens and record their movements each time they cross the Schengen Area’s external border.

Holidaymakers driving to Europe face queues of 15 hours or more in Kent when new rules for Britons travelling to the European Union come into force this year, The Times reported. 

Ashford borough council in the county has written to MPs on the European scrutiny committee, raising concerns about the impact of the EES.

Officials have said that the “reasonable worst-case scenario” would result in gridlock in the county and “welfare concerns for passengers” when the EES begins in October, prompting fears of chaos at the autumn half-term.

Abta members on the webinar will hear from DG Home – the EC department delivering the implementation of EES – and Frontex, which is the EU’s border control agency responsible for Etias.

More: Brexit-related ‘complexity’ for travellers to increase, warns Julia Lo Bue-Said

Mark Tanzer, Abta chief executive, said: “The introduction of the EES and Etias will impact all UK citizens travelling to EU countries.

“Abta members will have a very important role in offering advice and guidance to their customers to help them understand the changes and what they need to do, which is why we’re working to provide them with the information they need.

“We also know that there is a real risk of people falling foul of unofficial websites to get an Etias, with Frontex reporting 60 sites already live.

“So, this will be an important advice message from Abta members to their customers.

“Frontex and DG Home are keen to work very closely with Abta in helping get the message out to members, customers and the wider industry about the changes coming down the line.

“We’re encouraging as many members as possible to sign up to the webinar to hear first-hand from the agencies delivering these changes.”

The webinar will take place on February 13 from 11am-12pm, and members can register for a place via the Abta Member Zone.

The Etias regulation does allow commercial intermediaries to apply for the travel authorisation on behalf of others.

However, as the application process will require travellers to submit details of their passport details, credit card number and other personal data, Frontex has warned: “It is important to ensure that such sensitive information is not misused.”

It added: “Once Etias is launched, the commercial intermediaries will have to use the official Etias website – the only official channel – to apply for the travel authorisation on behalf of their clients. Applying on the official website will cost €7. Any additional charges will go to the intermediaries.

“When applying for an Etias authorisation, it is important for travellers to consider whom they are giving their personal information to and how much they are willing to pay in addition to the application fee. It is important travellers take time and assess these factors carefully.”

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