The European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, will officially launch the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) in 2021. The Commission will implement the new system to "strengthen its border security as well as digitally screen and track travelers entering and leaving EU countries."
Visitors from countries outside the European Union/Schengen Area hailing from one of the approximately 60 countries, including the United States, that have temporary visa-free access to Europe will need to submit entry applications through the new, "U.S.-style" screening system.
The commission describes the system as a "visa-waiver." Travelers visiting Europe for business, tourism, medical or transit purposes will need to pay a new, additional fee and undergo additional security checks before their entrance to Europe is approved.
ETIAS applications will include questions on personal biometric data (e.g. name, gender, data of birth, etc), passport or travel document information, EU member state of entry, background questions on an applicant's health, criminal record as well as previous EU immigration history. Submitting one of these applications will cost €7 or approximately $7.64 at the time of writing, unless the applicant is under the age of 18 or more than 70 years old.
Applications must be submitted 96 hours prior to the departure date. The Commission claims that approximately 95% of applications will be evaluated within minutes of their submission. If an application is approved, the applicant is cleared for a period of three years or until their passport expires. The traveler's ETIAS information will be reviewed again at checkpoints such as boarding gates and border entry stations throughout their trip.
The United States will be a launch member of the ETIAS, and travelers can find U.S.-specific information here. If Britain completes its exit from the European Union, British travelers will require an ETIAS application as well.
The Commission currently lists January 1, 2021 as the system's official launch date.