On June 23rd of 2016, the United Kingdom (UK) voted to leave the European Union (EU). The separation is known as Brexit, named for Britain’s exit from the EU. The EU and the United Kingdom have agreed to a transition process of 21 months — from 29 March 2019 until the end of 2020 — before the country leaves the member bloc completely.
On November 19th, 2018, the European Council, a governing part of the European Union (EU), met in Brussels and agreed to create a stronger Schengen Information System, or SIS.
What is SIS?
The SIS is a large-scale information system that supports security at external Schengen Zone borders. The system went into effect in April 2013 and is Europe’s most widely used security database. SIS currently contains over 80 million records. In 2017 alone, the SIS was consulted more than 5.2 billion times. The proposed changes will make Schengen Zone travel safer on many levels, creating tighter regulations and an upgrade to a completely integrated, digital system.
The strategy for a safer and more secure Europe? Simply put, going digital. In July of 2018, the European Union (EU) lawmakers gave the go-ahead for ETIAS, a totally digitized European Travel Information System. ETIAS is just one initiative the European Parliament has adopted to help make Schengen Area travel safer for all and a lot easier for legitimate, short-term travelers coming from the United States.
ETIAS, scheduled to go in effect January 2021, will allow for advance checks and help close the information gap on visa-free travel within the Schengen Area of Europe. If travelers’ country of citizenship is an ETIAS-eligible country, they must apply for an ETIAS visa waiver.
While carrying medical travel insurance is a requirement when applying for a Schengen Visa, that is not so for ETIAS. When you apply for ETIAS, you may need to fill out questions of a medical nature, but approval does not hinge on whether or not you’re covered by a medical travel insurance policy. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to understand your options.
According to the European Commission, ETIAS will integrate with and complement existing security databases, such as the as Schengen Information System (SIS), as well as those still in development like the Entry Exit System (EES). The EES will allow authorities to get a closer look at cross-border movement and travel history data.