EU-LISA: Europe’s new pax screening system postponed to 2023

By OPSGROUP Team

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From May 2023, operators bringing passengers to most countries in Europe will 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”.

EU-LISA is definitely easier to say. What they do and why we should know about them is a little more complicated. In short, they are the ‘Schengen Area information engine’, which means they are basically the folk managing the customs information for anyone travelling in and out of the Schengen Area.

Here are the key dates:

*as per the ‘conclusions’ from the most recent Carriers Working Group on Oct 27, 2022, published here.

May 2023: 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).

November 2023: 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 site does it actually say this. But that’s what they have told us in their latest email reply (June 2022), and they say they will be updating the FAQ section soon to reflect 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?

March 2023: Registration deadline
The European Business Aviation Association are recommending carriers register for the EES system by March 2023, as that is when EU-LISA want the system to be ready to go. To register, click here, download the form and fill it in electronically (i.e. do not print & scan), and then e-mail it to carriers_onboarding@eulisa.europa.eu. EU-LISA should then reply with follow-up guidance.

May 2023: 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.

November 2023: 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.

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.

Anything else?

  • For more information on the finer points of what you have to do as a carrier, click here (but just note that this was published in Feb 2022, prior to EES/ETIAS being delayed to 2023, so some of the dates in this doc are no longer correct).
  • And for an extensive carrier FAQ on all things EES/ETIAS, click here.
  • 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 news@ops.group
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3 Comments

  • Matt Woodruff says:

    From EBAA:

    However, if the aircraft is owned by a private individual or organization, the crew is hired directly by the aircraft owner, and flights are not open for public use or charter, the operation will not be required to use the new systems.

  • Chris Yoder says:

    Can anyone comment on “not managed by an external company”? Our corporate structure is organized in a way that the owner has a dry-lease in place for personal travel. The pilots and maintenance work for a third-party whose only job is to provide pilot and maintenance services to the registered owner and dry lessee.

    Similarly, what if you own an aircraft and use full-time contractors to crew or maintain your aircraft?

  • Enrique Hernandez says:

    Well my department falls into the not need to comply with this new mandate and we already registered and paid the fees.

    Now What?

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