EU Renews Warning Against Fake ETIAS Websites, Develops Mobile App

| June 27, 2024
EU Renews Warning Against Fake ETIAS Websites, Develops Mobile App

The European Union’s (EU’s) border control agency, Frontex, once again warned travelers against fake travel authorization websites.

These unofficial websites claim to accept and process applications for the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS).

ETIAS is the EU’s new travel authorization system, which all non-visa travelers to the Schengen Zone must obtain before their visit.

The system will pre-screen travelers for security, immigration, and health risks, strengthening the EU’s border security.

It is similar to the United Kingdom’s Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) and the United States’ Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), as well as those used by Canada and Australia.

Francois Laruelle, director of the ETIAS Central Unit Division at Frontex, said they 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 authorization,” he said via a statement.

“The system is not operational yet,” Laurelle stressed. The only official ETIAS website URL is

The renewed warning comes as the EU prepares to launch the ETIAS in mid-2025.

Once the travel authorization system goes live next year, Frontex will run a 24/7 unit to help travelers and carriers with the ETIAS.

Growing number of unofficial travel authorization websites

Earlier in the year, Frontext said over 60 unofficial websites already provide information about the ETIAS.

Per its latest press release, the EU border agency identified over 100 unofficial ETIAS travel authorization websites.

“While some of these websites are run by legitimate businesses, others may be less trustworthy,” it warned.

Many fake travel authorization websites provide the wrong information about the EU’s travel authorization system.

Some may look similar to the official ETIAS website, copying the same layout, font, and colors to confuse travelers.

Others use professional website names and EU-copyrighted materials to make them appear legitimate.

Third-party service providers or commercial intermediaries can legally apply for an ETIAS on behalf of their clients.

However, these companies must also apply for their clients’ travel authorization via the official ETIAS website.

Travelers should be cautious when choosing commercial intermediaries, as they will need to disclose personal data for the ETIAS application.

According to Frontex, the risks involved range from identity theft to paying excessive fees and data protection concerns.

Consulting the official ETIAS website is “the best way to avoid high fees, fraud, and misinformation.”

EU developing ETIAS mobile app

In addition to the official website, the EU is working on a mobile app for ETIAS applications.

The app will be available in all 24 official languages used across the EU member nations and on both iOS and Android platforms.

Visa-free travelers will be able to use the mobile app to do everything they need to obtain an ETIAS travel authorization.

This includes entering personal details, answering security questions, and paying the required €7 fee.

According to the Communication Department of eu-LISA, the EU Agency for operational management of systems like the ETIAS, the app will not capture biometric data for identity verification.

Collecting travelers’ facial and fingerprint scans would potentially happen only at the EU’s external borders.

This would be the case should the EU incorporate biometric checks into the ETIAS system in the future.

Instead of biometric data, the app will use two-factor authentication and “a combination of other targeted security measures.”

Rest assured that these security measures will be aligned with the ETIAS regulation and EU laws.

The eu-LISA Communication Department also confirmed that the ETIAS app would be compatible with older smartphone models.

It is expected to launch alongside the ETIAS system in mid-2025.

Challenges in launching the new travel authorization system

Originally proposed back in 2016, the launch of the ETIAS system has faced multiple delays over the years.

The target start date is May 2025, but it could still face further delays due to development challenges.

Europol and Frontex have warned about persistent problems that could hinder the system’s launch.

These include technological hurdles in building the required systems, tools, and databases for the ETIAS.

Some EU countries had yet to approve appeal templates or adopt ETIAS laws.

Europol also said it needs to hire more staff to process applications within the required timeframe.

As the EU works to address these challenges, travelers are advised to stay informed about ETIAS developments through official channels.

The European Commission will launch a comprehensive communication campaign about the ETIAS to reach various relevant audiences.

Support channels will also be available to assist travelers who struggle with the app or website application process.

More upcoming border changes

As the launch of the ETIAS nears, travelers heading to the EU must be aware of another significant change.

Aside from the new travel authorization system, the EU will also launch a new border check system, the Entry/Exit System (EES), in October 2024.

The EES will replace manual passport stamping with automated biometric checks for non-EU citizens entering the Schengen Area.

It will affect both short-stay visa holders and non-visa nationals visiting the EU for up to 90 days.

The EES will work alongside the ETIAS to enhance border security and streamline the entry process.