The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is far from unique. The new requirement for travel to Europe — which will be mandatory from the end of 2023 for travelers from countries with visa waiver agreements with Schengen — will join a growing list of electronic travel authorization systems in several countries around the world.
In this article we will try to introduce you to the most important ones.
ESTA (United States of America)
The ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) has undoubtedly been the model under which the Schengen ETIAS was formed, already since the incubation of its idea by the European Commission in 2016. This system, implemented by the US after the 9/11 attacks as a measure to reinforce the security of its borders, maintains many of the characteristics now presented by the ETIAS: an affordable price, the ease of applying for it hours before the trip, the duration (two years in this case, for the three of the ETIAS) and being available only for a closed group of countries.
It was following the implementation of ESTA in the United States that the rest of the electronic travel authorization systems were created.
One such system that emerged in the wake of the ESTA has been the Canadian eTA. The Canadian government, in an attempt to bring its immigration and border policies in line with those of its southern neighbors, announced in 2013 its intention to create its own Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). The system became operational on a mandatory basis as of November 2016.
In any case, the Canadian case dragged more controversy than the U.S. case, in part due to the more democratic nature of the Canadian political system. As early as 2013, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada expressed concerns about the eTA because of its "lack of transparency" and the treatment that would be given to applicants' data. Also, because the agreements for the eTA were made behind closed doors, with U.S. representatives.
In any case, the system went ahead and, today, it is the way to travel to Canada without a visa.
The Australian case
One state that anticipated the creation of ESTA by the United States and has been using its own model for years is Australia. It is also worth noting that the Oceanic country has two different types of electronic travel authorization programs: eVisitor and ETA.
- The ETA is perhaps one of the earliest electronic clearance programs in history. It began to be developed in 1996, and applied to travelers to Australia from the USA and Singapore. Today, the system also includes citizens from Canada, Brunei, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia.
- As early as 2008, the Australian government introduced the eVisitor, a system created for citizens of the Schengen area, Ireland and Great Britain.
NZETA New Zealander
One of the latest cases to join the group of countries with electronic travel authorization systems has been New Zealand. As of October 2019, the New Zealand government requires any traveler who is part of its visa waiver program to apply for NZeTA.
The NZeTA has very similar characteristics to any other of the previously mentioned systems, although it differs in the price. In addition to paying the NZeTA —whose price ranges between 9 and 12 New Zealand dollars —, you must also pay the "International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy", a kind of fee for nature conservation. It is worth 35 New Zealand dollars.
United Kingdom: In process
One country that has not yet prepared its electronic travel authorization program is the United Kingdom. The British country plans to start using its own system, known as ETA, from the end of 2024. The system is expected to be very similar to those in Australia, the U.S., Canada or the Schengen area.
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