EU Borders 2024 and Beyond: New Upcoming Changes to Toughen Entry into the Schengen Zone

From 2024 to 2025, nationals from countries who could have entered the Schengen States visa-exempt will now endure harsher entry requirements, prompted by Smart Borders. This will affect citizens from third-countries such as Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, among others. Nationals from countries requiring a short-stay or tourism visa, such as China, India, and South Africa, will also be affected by these measures.

What are Smart Borders?

Smart Borders refers to 2 recent EU policies, which have been drafted as far back as 2017 and 2018, but not yet implemented due to various delays. The policies are the Entry/Exit System (EES) and the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS).  

The new measures are a result of the growth of the Schengen Zone, and an increasing need for internal security and migration control, especially as the EU continues to receive millions of travelers every year.  

Though there is no date of confirmation as to when the EES will start to be enforced, official information states it is set to begin during the second half of 2024, while ETIAS is planned for 2025. The Smart Borders policies will only be applied to the Schengen Zone, and this includes not only most EU countries (except Ireland, Cyprus, Romania, and Bulgaria) but also Norway, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, and Iceland.

What is the Entry/Exit System?

As part of the Smart Borders initiative, the upcoming EES will automatically register travelers from third-countries whenever they enter or exit any of the Schengen states, including Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, and Greece. The EU defines a third country as any state not a member of the EU, or who does not enjoy the bloc’s right to freedom of movement. The automatic registration will apply to tourists or investors exempt from obtaining a Schengen visa, e.g.: US citizens, or who require a visa to enter the EU in the first place, e.g.: Indian nationals.  

This Smart Borders policy will be an automated IT system and record the traveler’s information, such as biometric data, dates and places of entry and exit, and any refusals of entry. Once implemented, it will be a reliable source of information on border crossings, prevent identity fraud scams, and control migration movements. Manual stamps will no longer be issued.

What is the European Travel Information Authorization System?

Mirroring other initiatives already put into place by other countries, like the United States’ Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), the EU plans to introduce the European Travel Information Authorization System (ETIAS).  

As the name indicates, it is an authorization document third-country travelers will need to obtain before traveling into any of the Schengen states. Like the EES, this Smart Borders policy includes all nationals exempt from a Schengen visa and short-stay visa holders. 

Completing the required forms and registering for the ETIAS will be a fully online process and will cost a symbolic amount of €7. Once in hand, the ETIAS will be valid for 3 years, or until the applicant’s passport expires, whichever comes first. However, having the ETIAS document will not necessarily guarantee entry into the Schengen states, since each country has the right to refuse entry.

EU border to Schengen Zone.

What does this mean for third-country travelers?

As the EU prepares to tighten border and migration movement control, travelers from Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Israel, India, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States of American can expect toughened entry requirements to the Schengen Zone

While the EU is trying to paint the Smart Borders policies in a positive light, claiming the new measures will facilitate the process of entering the Schengen Zone, the reality might prove different. For one, the implementation has already been delayed numerous times, which is never a good sign. Drafted back in 2017 and 2018, the Smart Borders kept on being delayed successively, including twice in 2023, to install proper equipment and give not only airports sufficient time to prepare for the changes, but also other land and maritime border crossing posts. 

Technical complications aside, the real issue might translate into considerably longer waiting times at border control. Regardless of the intent behind entering the EU, whether for a well-deserved vacation or to strike a solid business deal, the Smart Borders might just ruin the purpose altogether.

What can third-country travelers do to avoid Smart Borders?

It is important to note the Schengen Zone’s Smart Borders will not be an issue for legal residents and EU citizens, and this is where the answer to the question lies. By becoming residents in a Schengen state, the concern for Smart Borders disappears. However, the Schengen Zone rule of travel for 90 days out of 180 still applies. Third-country nationals can overcome any of these obstacles by obtaining Residency or even Citizenship in an EU country within the Schengen Zone, making all the worries about border control vanish.  

With the Greece Golden Visa, Residency in the country is achievable through the purchase of Real Estate, not only granting legal status but also providing a second home, perfect for vacations or a Plan B strategy. Property investment options start at a minimum of €250,000 in most of the regions of the country, including the island of Crete, or €500,000 in select areas, such as the Athens city center, Thessaloniki, Mykonos. and Santorini, among a few others.  

Alternatively, Portugal also presents exciting opportunities, with its D2 Visa program, which currently holds the fastest path toward EU citizenship, taking only 5 years. The Portugal D2 Visa grants Residency in as little as 3 months, and as a business-driven program, it is ideal for those wanting to expand their reach into the EU.  

Investment Visa has the best deals on the market, with plenty of qualifiable properties in Greece and the most enticing D2 Visa packages in Portugal, all designed to address the needs of third-country nationals when traveling into the Schengen zone. Contact us now to find out more about these exclusive details and begin your journey to a brighter future in the EU!

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