Vancouver to Europe: What you need to know about the new entry rules

The entry process in most countries in Europe is changing. Here’s everything you need to know.

Travelers looking to visit Europe in the not-too-distant future might find the process more complicated – and they might also miss showing their passport stamps to friends and family.

Although it has not yet started, the European Union (EU) plans to introduce a new IT system for non-EU travelers by May 2023 called the Entry/Exit System (EES).

The new system will register foreigners traveling for a short stay each time they cross the external borders of European countries (there are some exemptions, but most Canadians will be required to use it). Entry refusals are also recorded in the system.

The scheme is for travelers who need a short-stay visa and those who do not need a visa to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period, according to the EU.

Which parts of Europe will use the EES system?

Mainly, the new system will apply to all European countries in the Schengen area. This zone includes the following 26 countries, otherwise known as Schengen States: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Once a traveler has obtained a Schengen visa, they can travel freely through the countries of the Schengen zone as long as they do not exceed the authorized duration of their stay. Travelers cannot stay more than 90 days in any 180-day period in the zone under the “short-stay visa”. However, there are three different types of Schengen visas.

Some of the countries in the Schengen zone are not members of the EU, while other popular countries are not included in the visa-free zone, such as the United Kingdom.

Traveling to Bulgaria and Romania

Two countries that do not issue Schengen visas are also included in the EES system: Bulgaria and Romania.

Both of these countries are members of the EU and will require specific entry rules.

If you do not need a visa to enter, the total duration of your stay in either country will be calculated within the “overall limit allowed for a short stay – 90 days out of 180 days”.

But if you need a visa and you have a Schengen short-stay visa, the duration of your stay in these two countries will not exhaust the number of days that the Schengen visa allows you to stay in the Schengen area.

What type of information will the EES system collect from me?

The EES system will electronically register you in the system and collect your travel document and personal data, as well as your entry and exit dates.

The EES collects and records:

  • the data contained in your travel document (e.g. full name, date of birth, etc.)
  • date and place of entry and exit from a European country using the EES
  • facial image and fingerprints (referred to as “biometric data”)
  • refusal of entry, if applicable.

At the first checkpoint, you will have four fingerprints taken and then cross-checked with data already held in the EES or VIS, according to Etias Visa. Additionally, your passport photo will be checked against a live facial image. The next time you cross a border, you can do so using your face.

The new system would be “faster and more secure than stamping passports” and the new eGates and self-service kiosks will reduce identity fraud.

A file containing the data listed above will be created for each traveler entering the Schengen area at least once. Certain information specific to each entry into and exit from the Schengen area will be recorded in the EES.

This EES file will facilitate your border crossing and will also support other border control systems to manage the influx of travelers to and from EU Schengen countries.

Your data will be stored in the system for the following durations:

  • Registers of entries, exits and entry refusals: three years, from the date on which they were registered
  • Individual files containing personal data: three years and one day, from the date of your last exit card (or of your refusal of entry, if you were not authorized to enter)
  • If no output has been recorded: five years, from the expiry date of your authorized stay

After the expiry of each period, your data is automatically deleted.

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