Europe

Frontex Warns Travellers of Risks Posed by Unofficial ETIAS Websites

The European Union’s agency in charge of monitoring the bloc’s external borders, Frontex, has warned travellers from visa-free countries to be careful of dubious websites offering information and services related to the upcoming European Travel Information & Authorisation System (ETIAS).

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In a statement issued on Saturday, June 22, Frontex has pointed out that less than a year from the planned launch of the ETIAS there are over 100 websites offering information and services on the scheme, which often may appear to the traveler as official, Schengen.News reports.

As the launch of the system is getting closer, ensuring that the public is aware of the new travel requirements and of how to apply for their ETIAS travel authorisation is key.

Frontex

The authority points out that the only official website for the ETIAS is europa.eu/etias. Currently the website is not open for applications, however, the same will be all ready by the time the requirement becomes mandatory, in the first half of 2025.

Aside from the website, travellers will also be able to download the ETIAS mobile app, and apply from it. The app is not ready yet either, but once it is, it will be available in both android and iOS.

Over 100 Unofficial Websites Providing ETIAS Information – Only Few of Them Are Legitimate

Unfolding its concerns, Frontex reveals that so far, it has detected over 100 unofficial websites that offer information on the ETIAS to travellers from over 60 countries, who can currently enter the 30 Schengen Area countries completely visa-free and permission-free.

The agency head points out that while some of these websites operate legitimately, there are many others that look “shady”.

We are aware of several sites that claim to already accept ETIAS applications. Travellers should be very cautious about those websites, as it is not currently possible to apply for an official ETIAS travel authorisation since the system is not operational yet.

Francois Laruelle, Director of the ETIAS Central Unit Division at Frontex

In April last year, the agency had warned of similar concerns. At the time, it said that it had detected around 50 websites of this nature, which means in a timespan of one year, their number has doubled.

High Fees & Identity Theft Amongst Main Risks Posed by These Websites

Among the main risks that arise from applying for an ETIAS through such websites, according to Frontex, is travellers having to pay fees higher than the required €7 for applying through the official website, as well as identity theft by these third parties.

However, the agency makes it clear that it will be completely legal for travellers to authorise another person, or a legal commercial intermediary to apply for an ETIAS for them.

While commercial intermediaries will be able to apply for the travel authorisation on behalf of their clients, travellers are advised to be careful who they share their personal data with.

Frontex

The ETIAS is expected to start operating in the first half of 2-25, probably by May. Originally, the scheme was supposed to launch in January 2021, but has been postponed several times by now.

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