New Travel Authorization Systems Postponed Again in U.S. and Europe
New Travel Authorization Systems Postponed Again in U.S. and Europe

New Travel Authorization Systems Postponed Again in U.S. and Europe

Mobility Trends and Hot Topics

Published: Apr 20, 2023

Enforcement of two new travel authorization systems have been postponed again in the U.S. and Europe:

  1. ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) – until 2024; and
  2. REAL ID – until May 2025

ETIAS Postponement

Europe receives over 37 million visitors each year, so the introduction of ETIAS – similar to the U.S. ESTA program (Electronic System for Travel Authorization registration system) – is expected to have a significant impact on travelers from around the world, including the global mobile workforce.

The roll-out for ETIAS has been planned for years, but the start date has been repeatedly pushed back from 2020, 2022 and 2023, to launch in 2024. There is speculation the new 2024 date could be pushed back further, perhaps after the Summer Olympics in Paris concludes on 10 August 2024.

Once implemented, all visitors who previously travelled visa-free to Europe’s Schengen Zone will be required to register in advance online. For European countries which will be using ETIAS starting 2024, please see click here. To register, individuals will need a passport valid for three months beyond the intended stay, an e-mail account, and a credit or debit card. Passengers will be required to complete an online application form that covers a range of biometric, travel and security related questions. Data will be checked against a variety of European and International databases including no fly lists, to identify potential terrorist and criminal threats who will then be refused entry via the ETIAS program.

When up and running, it is expected most ETIAS applications will take 20 minutes to complete, but time will vary based on additional fields one may need to fill out. Applications may be processed and delivered by e-mail within one hour if no further checks are required, but it could take upwards of 96 hours if additional information’s needed. An application fee will be €7, though travelers under the age of 18 or over the age of 70 will not need to pay a fee. 

REAL ID Postponement

To help improve airline security, Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005 and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration and other federal agencies announced they would require REAL ID compliant licenses for people 18 years old and older to fly anywhere within the U.S. starting in May 2023.

However, the Department of Homeland Security announced the deadline would be extended until May 7, 2025 since state motor vehicle departments need more time to process the backlog of applications created by COVID-19 and only about 50 percent of the U.S. population has REAL ID compliant documentation.

Secure REAL ID will “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses” and will have a star at the top of the license. When enforced in 2025, it will be required for every air traveler 18 or older at airport security checkpoints for domestic travel. Those under 18 must be travelling with an individual who has acceptable documentation.

To get a REAL ID license, a person typically will need to show proof of their full legal name, date of birth, Social Security number, two proofs of residence and lawful status. Lawful status means that the person will need to provide valid documentary evidence that they are lawfully in the United States per Section 202.(c)(2)(B).  

Still, despite REAL ID requirements, other documents may be substituted or used instead when enforcement starts in 2025. These may include U.S. passports, Department of Homeland Security-trusted traveler cards, U.S permanent residence cards, federally recognized tribal-issued photo IDs, and USCIS Employment Authorization Cards.

Costs will be tied to local fees associated with obtaining driver licenses or identification cards. Employers should encourage their employees to determine if their current identification includes the star. If not, it would be good to advise them to obtain the REAL ID designation to avoid unnecessary delays obtaining the necessary documentation for traveling by air by the 7 May 2025 start date.