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Parliament approves the ETIAS law!

This Thursday, the 28th of March, the ETIAS law was approved by a majority during the plenary session of the Chamber of Representatives. This law establishes the Belgian ETIAS National Unit and defines its organisation and functioning. The Belgian ETIAS National Unit will enforce the ETIAS regulation adopted by the European Union in 2018. This regulation introduces the obligation for nationals of 60 visa-exempt third countries to obtain prior authorization before traveling to the Schengen Area and Cyprus.

Affected citizens will need to apply for this authorization online, through a simple procedure that will only take them a few minutes. The goal is to identify travellers who may pose a security problem to the concerned European countries. By adopting the ETIAS regulation, Europe follows in the footsteps of other countries that already have similar provisions, including the United States with ESTA.

Given the multiple objectives and diverse expertise covered by the ETIAS system, the National Unit will be part of the National Travel Targeting Center and will consist of two sections: one within the National Crisis Center (NCCN), the other within the Immigration Office. The NCCN section will be composed of NCCN employees and secondees from the Federal Police, Customs, State Security, the General Intelligence and Security Service (ADIV-SGRS), and the Federal Public Service Public Health.

The law specifies the processes described in the ETIAS regulation, such as risk assessment, watchlist management, or consultation for enforcement purposes. It also establishes rules for the protection of personal data and provides for the designation of a data protection delegate. Finally, the law provides for an appeal procedure against decisions of the ETIAS National Unit, which can be brought before the Council for Alien Law Litigation.

The ETIAS National Unit will become operational in 2025, with an effective date yet to be specified by Europe. Meaning our teams still have a few months to prepare to carry out their new missions.

More information on ETIAS

Beware of mis- and disinformation about ETIAS! A brief overview of the most common misinformation can be found on this page