- Operators bringing passengers to most countries in Europe will soon need to be registered with the EU’s new Entry/Exit System for passenger screening. This new system will eventually function much the same as the ESTA system does in the US.
- The folks behind this new system are EU-LISA: “the European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice”. They are basically the folks managing the customs information for anyone travelling in and out of the Schengen Area.
- Implementation has been postponed several times already – see “Key Dates” below for the latest.
- It has been extremely difficult to work out which flights have to comply with these new rules. It seems the answer is that only private flights are exempt.
Late 2024: EES
What does this mean? EES stands for Entry/Exit System.
What’s changing? Basically, EES will be turning manual passport stamping and visa checking into a digital process instead (although passports will continue to be stamped during the following 3 months).
No earlier than 2025: ETIAS
What does this mean? ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorisation System.
What’s changing? You might have already come across ETIAS – it is the EU’s version of a visa waiver, similar to the US ESTA program. If you come from one of 60 or so countries that are currently covered by the ETIAS system then you can use it for your visa waivering.
What is a carrier?
Get used to the word “carrier” – this is EU-LISA’s word for “operator performing any kind of commercial flight”.
With that definition in mind, know that all carriers need to comply with EES and ETIAS requirements. So that includes scheduled, non-scheduled, charter, Part 135, flying unicorns for hire… anything where there is any profit being made or where there is any business purpose to the flight.
Nowhere on the EU-LISA carrier site does it specifically say this. But that’s what they have told us in their latest email reply (June 2022), and there is some waffle in their FAQ section that seems to confirm this.
So, if an aircraft is flown for non-commercial purposes then it can be exempt in the following circumstances:
- The owner of the aircraft is the pilot and any passengers are friends/family
- The owner of the aircraft is a passenger on the flight, or has made the aircraft available to friends/family at no cost to them. It can be flown by a professional crew, but the aircraft is not managed by an external company and there is no business purpose to the trip at all.
A private aircraft is NOT considered exempt if:
- It is managed by a management company whose business is aircraft management.
- There is any business purpose to the flight – including attending a single business meeting during the trip.
So what do carriers need to do?
Get registered ASAP!
To register, click here, download the form and fill it in electronically (i.e. do not print & scan), and then e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org. EU-LISA should then reply with follow-up guidance.
Late 2024: EES
Carriers will need to verify electronically whether a third country national travelling to the Schengen Area has already used the number of entries authorised by their visa.
No earlier than 2025: ETIAS
Carriers will have to verify the status of travel documents required for entering the Schengen Area, including the need to hold a ETIAS travel authorisation prior to boarding.
If you have insider info on all this, have used it, and have feedback on the process, or if we’ve got anything wrong in our explanation, please let us know at email@example.com
Schengen isn’t EU?
Figured we’d throw in a quick explanation of this too for good measure.
The Schengen Area, in case you don’t know, comprises of 26 member states, and is not quite the same as the EU both in terms of purpose and members. There are countries which are in Europe but not in the EU (23 at last count), and there are non-EU countries which make up part of the Schengen thing – Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein to be precise.
The big difference between the EU and Schengen though is that the EU is an economic, political thing whereas the main purpose of Schengen is simply supporting ‘free movement’ of Schengen people. This is all down to an “agreement” between the members where they have effectively abolished their internal borders. In other words, folk don’t need to show a passport when travelling between.
More on the topic:
- More: OPSCHAT Summary 08 MAR
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- Latest: Flights misled over position, navigation failure follows
- Latest: Private Flights to the US
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