Canadian tourists in Europe will soon benefit from the added safety and security of ETIAS. The new scheme, to be launched towards the end of 2022, will become mandatory for all travellers from current visa-waiver countries.
Until now, Canadians have enjoyed trips to 26 European Schengen Area countries using just their passport. Although this has provided flexible and convenient access to Europe, it has not been able to offer the highest level of security that residents and visitors call for.
As a result, the ETIAS for Europe has been developed to complement the current visa liberalisation policy. It means that citizens of eligible countries can continue to explore Europe visa-free with the added bonus of improved safety and greater peace of mind.
How is traveller data screened for ETIAS?
To apply, travellers must meet the ETIAS requirements for Canadians and supply basic personal information and passport details in addition to answering some background questions relating to health and criminal records.
This information is then checked against the following security databases:
- European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS)
- Schengen Information System (SIS)
- Visa Information System (VIS)
- SLTD (INTERPOL)
By running the data supplied through each of these systems, a complete traveller profile can be created.
How do the ETIAS security databases work?
Each of the systems listed above will play a vital role in safeguarding the public. Here is a brief overview of some of the key components.
EUROPOL: using data to create an ETIAS watchlist
An ETIAS watchlist will be compiled using EUROPOL data. Not only will this list contain the names of those suspected of having committed serious offences, but also people for whom there are reasonable grounds to suspect future crime or terrorism.
With this watchlist individuals who pose a threat to the public can be blocked from accessing Europe. Increased security for residents and visitors alike.
SLTDD: preventing travellers from using stolen documents
The Stolen and Lost Travel Documents Database ensure that people cannot enter Europe using a passport or other documentation that has been reported as stolen or lost.
Again this helps to identify potentially problematic individuals before they depart for Europe.
ECRIS: identifying travellers with criminal convictions
The European Criminal Records Information System produces a hit in the case that the passport holder has previously the broken law.
Although travellers with a criminal record will not automatically be blocked from entering the Schengen zone, it does allow the authorities to stop anyone who may pose a threat from going to Europe.
Should there be any red flags when traveller data is run through these automated systems, the application will then be processed manually by the Central Unit in the European Border and Coast Guard Agency or by a Member State team.
Each request is analyzed on a case-by-case basis. If the person is considered to be risky in any way, the ETIAS will not be issued and they will not be allowed to cross the border of the Schengen Area nation.
The ETIAS is valid for 3 years, or until the passport expires, but can be revoked at any point, preventing anyone who may be dangerous from slipping through the net.
Candian visitors will be able to explore top travel destinations safe in the knowledge that visitors have been through this rigorous pre-screening process.
Other benefits of ETIAS for Canadian citizens
In addition to boosting security and safety across the Schengen Area, ETIAS offers several other benefits.
Whilst visa request processes are often lengthy and time-consuming, the ETIAS application form for Canadians takes just a few minutes to complete.
Furthermore, it is expected that very few applications will result in a hit in the system, 95% will be approved in a matter of minutes.
Another major advantage for Canadians is that the same ETIAS can be used to travel throughout the Schengen Area. Whilst most visas are valid for just one country, one visa waiver can be used for all 26 countries.