Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
You are here: Home topics Transport US Visa Waiver Program - guide

US Visa Waiver Program - guide

18 April 2008
by eub2 -- last modified 18 April 2008

The EU Council on 18 April authorised the European Commission to open negotiations on an agreement between the European Community and the United States of America regarding certain conditions for access to the United States' Visa Waiver Program (VWP).


What will the Commission negotiate with the U.S. regarding the Visa Waiver Program?

The European Commission intends to seek information on the US' intention regarding the U.S. Electronic System of Travel Authorisation (ESTA). This will be the basis for the Community's determination whether the ESTA imposes an obligation which is comparable to a visa or not. With regard to information exchange, more details are required as to what the U.S. seeks to obtain. The Commission will take in charge all information aspects linked to the crossing of external borders and the management of the Schengen area. Requirements for travel document standards will also be addressed.

Will the negotiations also cover additional Passenger Name Records data?

The exchange of Passenger Name Records data is governed by the 2007 EU-US Agreement; the Commission considers the provisions of this Agreement sufficient and there will not be any additional negotiations. The 2007 Agreement remains in force and the Commission has not had any complaints from either side regarding its implementation.

Will the negotiations also cover reporting the lost and stolen passports?

The EU has already an existing common position regarding the exchange through Interpol channels of certain data on issued and blank passports that are lost, stolen or misappropriated. All Member States are implementing the Common position. The Commission will issue a report this spring with recommendations to achieve an even more operationally efficient functioning of the Common Position. This will not be part of the negotiations the Commission will have with U.S.

Which Member States have signed Memoranda of Understanding with the U.S.? What does the Commission intend to do as regards these Memoranda?

To date, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovakia and Malta have signed Memoranda of Understanding with the U.S. regarding the implementation of certain security conditions linked to the US Visa Waiver Program. The Commission continues to have concerns with certain aspects of these bilateral agreements and reserves the right to take action in accordance with the Treaty.

Does the Commission consider the US Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) a visa?

The U.S. has informed the European side at several occasions, including the recent EU-US Ministerial Troika meeting, on how the ESTA will be implemented. A number of questions remain on how the system will function and when will it start. It would be premature to decide now whether the US ESTA imposes obligations which are to be equated to a visa requirement since not all the necessary details are at hand yet. The issue will be discussed in the negotiations that will now start between the Commission and the US Department of Homeland Security.

Are there plans for an EU Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA)?

The Commission has invited Member States to reflect on the added value of an ESTA for the future development of the EU's integrated border management system. Subject to Member States' interest the Commission is ready to develop the European ESTA concept further and launch a study to look into the practical implementation. The results of such a study could be available early 2009.

Source: European Commission

Sponsor a Guide

EUbusiness Guides offer background information and web links about key EU business issues.

Promote your services by providing your own practical information and help to EUbusiness members, with your brand and contact details.

To sponsor a Guide phone us on +44 (0)20 7193 7242 or email sales.

EU Guides