If you have enjoyed visa-free travel to countries in the Schengen Area in the past few years, this post is for you. I am a U.S. Citizen that enjoyed visa-free travel during my past few visits to Belgium and Switzerland.
This is all about to change in 2023. The European Union has introduced something called ETIAS.
This post will cover everything you need to know about ETIAS.
There has been a lot of buzz recently regarding a new European Union travel authorization system, ETIAS.
The system was first proposed five years ago. However, progress has accelerated due to terrorist incidents in France and Belgium. This proved that more strict security measures are required in the region.
The proposed system is the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). It is based on the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization), a comparable visa waiver system used in the United States.
The system's goal is to collect information on visa-free tourists to the European Union and ensure that people who pose a security risk are identified before traveling to the Schengen Area.
The European Union's central purpose is to strengthen its inhabitants' external and internal security. This is done by establishing a centralized system for issuing travel authorizations to E.U. visitors and tracking their movements within the Schengen zone.
Working out the difference between the European Union (E.U.) and the Schengen zone is one of the more puzzling aspects for anyone visiting the E.U. from other countries.
The European Union (E.U.) comprises of 27 member nation-states in Europe. This number has grown over time as one nation after another has applied for; and then been granted membership.
The Schengen zone encompasses nearly all of the European Union's member states. However, not every E.U. country is a member of Schengen, and it gets even more complicated because not every Schengen country is a member of the E.U.
The Schengen zone, which has 26 members, was established to allow the free movement of people across national borders within the Schengen zone - this is known as the Schengen Agreement. These countries include:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
There are a standard set of rules about who is allowed to visit, work, live, and study within the zone and how long they can stay.
ETIAS is a new type of travel authorization designed for short-term tourist or business visitors to Europe who currently enjoys visa-free travel.
These visitors come from various countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, among others. For more information about the ETIAS system, you can check out the Europa.eu official website.
The Schengen Visa is a travel authorization that allows non-EU residents to visit the Schengen Memember States.
The Schengen Visa is specifically issued to citizens that don't enjoy visa-free travel to the Schengen Area. Whereas, ETIAS is issued to citizens/nationals who enjoy the benefit of visa-free travel to the EU and Schengen Area.
Now that you have insight into what an ETIAS visa waiver is, we can dig a little deeper into the actual application process.
The topics we will cover include who must apply for an ETIAS, the costs of the application, and other ETIAS related questions.
Individuals who are not E.U. citizens but enjoy visa-free travel must apply for ETIAS. These visitors are from countries like the United States, Canada, and Ukraine.
Citizens from a third-world country that enjoy visa-free travel must apply for an ETIAS. These are countries such as Albania, Japan, and Singapore.
Citizens from the E.U., EEA and other the Schengen Area do not have to apply for an ETIAS.
Citizens from external borders outside the E.U. and the Schengen Area, who do not enjoy visa-free travel, do not have to apply for an ETIAS. However, these citizens still need to apply for a Schengen Visa.
British citizens will need to apply for an ETIAS to enter participating European countries for less than 90 days. This will be for general tourism, business travel, transit, or medical reasons.
Citizens of the United Kingdom must complete an ETIAS application before boarding an aircraft, sea carrier, or coach vehicle bound for Europe in November 2023. This includes those who will only be transiting through Europe en route to other destinations.
Any British citizen who wishes to visit Europe for more than 90 days or for purposes other than those permitted under the ETIAS program must apply for a Schengen visa.
British citizens can expect their ETIAS application to be processed and approved in minutes. The authorization will be sent via email as a PDF document if approved.
Because the ETIAS is electronically stored, there is no need to print or present any documents.
It will take less than ten minutes to complete your online application form. Your ETIAS application will be processed instantly after submission, and you will receive a decision from the system within 96 hours or less.
If additional documentation from the applicant is required, a small percentage of applications may take up to four weeks to process.
You will be unable to enter a European Union country if your ETIAS has not yet been approved and you do not have any other travel authorization.
Individuals between 18 and 70 will pay €7 for ETIAS. A fee will not be charged to anyone under the age of 18 or anyone over 70.
This fee is payable during your online application process.
The ETIAS will be valid for three years or until the expiration date of your passport (whichever comes first).
Your ETIAS can be used for stays of up to 90 days in a 180-day period. Be mindful that overstaying can lead to heavy fines or even a ban.
Although no one will be able to obtain an ETIAS before Novemnber 2023, the application process has been available for more than a year.
There are specific steps that must be taken to obtain the ETIAS travel authorization, which grants the holder the right to enter the Schengen Zone.
After you have confirmed that you need to apply for an ETIAS, you can start the application process with these easy steps:
Quick note: The online application form has not yet been launched. However, you can use the following steps as an example of what to expect when applying for your ETIAS. The specific ETIAS website will be launching soon. Once this happens, this post will be updated with the latest news and requirements.
Before you begin the application process, make sure you have enough funds in your bank account to cover the 7 euro fee required to have your ETIAS application processed. This is payable with your debit or credit card.
Ensure you have a stable internet connection. If your internet connection is interrupted in the middle of your application, you may have to restart the application process. This can cause delays during your second attempt.
The application form will require you to submit personal information. Provide accurate and truthful information consistent with your passport and other documents. The application asks for basic information such as:
Unlike a standard visa application, you will not be required to submit many documents, which take time and effort to obtain.
All you have to do is ensure that your passport has the necessary validity as specified by the E.U. council rules on ETIAS. These rules require your passport to be valid when you arrive in Europe and have a validity of at least 6 months. On the biometric details page of your passport, there must also be a machine-readable section.
What happens next is out of your hands. Once you've submitted your application, it will first be screened against Schengen security databases such as the SIS / VIS / EUROPOL DATA / SLTD (Interpol) / EURODAC / ECRIS / ETIAS watch list and screening rules.
If the system finds no information that suggests you are a potential risk to the Schengen area or the E.U., you will typically be issued an ETIAS within 96 hours.
If, on the other hand, the system discovers something suspicious about you, your application will be denied, and you will have to reapply for an entry visa.
However, if your ETIAS application is denied, you will still receive an email explaining why.
You can travel to Europe once you have received confirmation that you have been granted an ETIAS. However, keep in mind that the ETIAS, like the visa, does not automatically give you the right to enter the E.U.'s borders.
The border guard will check the ETIAS database to see if you have travel authorization and then decide if you should be allowed to pass.
Now that we have covered all the essential information for your ETIAS application, I will cover a few things after your ETIAS is approved.
No, not particularly. The ETIAS is only accepted in countries that are members of the Schengen zone and participate in the ETIAS program.
This includes the following countries:
Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Vatican City.
Yes. Border officers in any European Union country have the right to conduct additional security checks.
Although the ETIAS allows you to travel freely within the E.U. for short business or tourism visits, border authorities still have the right to revoke your ETIAS travel authorization.
If you are entering an ETIAS country with an international carrier transporting group (e.g., tour groups), you will need an ETIAS.
This requirement, however, will not be enforced by E.U. authorities until three years after the ETIAS is launched.
If you are crossing the border into a Schengen member country in a private car or other vehicles, you will not need an ETIAS.
At first glance, the ETIAS application can be complicated. However, after reading this post, you should have a clear understanding on what to expect when applying for your ETIAS.
No, you will not require an ETIAS. However, your Schengen Visa will still be necessary for E.U. travel to other Schengen areas.
No, you must enter and exit Europe using the passport of an E.U. or ETIAS member country. If you travel with an E.U. member country's passport, you will not need an ETIAS.
To visit all ETIAS member countries, only one approved ETIAS is required per traveler. Therefore, you are not required to apply for an ETIAS in each member country you visit.
An approved ETIAS will cover all visits to ETIAS member countries, regardless of the traveler's point of entry or exit from the European Union.
If you have a residency card or residency status in an E.U. country, you do not need to apply for an ETIAS. Still, you must travel with proof of residency and a valid travel document (passport).
To travel to the European Union, all travelers, regardless of age, will need to obtain a separate and approved ETIAS.
Individuals under the age of 18 or over 70 are exempt from paying the €7 processing fee.
You can still apply for an ETIAS and discuss your conviction's circumstances.
If your ETIAS application is denied, you will be allowed to appeal to the Member State that decided to deny your ETIAS application.