Soon, having a valid passport and buying a ticket will no longer be enough to hop on a plane to Europe, but how exactly does this affect international visitors? Find out everything you need to know about the new European travel requirement in this quick guide to ETIAS.
What is ETIAS?
ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorisation System and has been gradually under implementation since it was approved in 2016.
ETIAS requires all travelers from visa liberalization countries —including minors— to register online for a travel authorization prior to their departure. This includes citizens from 60 countries, such as the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, amongst others.
The ETIAS will be seamlessly integrated with existing and new security databases, including EUROPOL, INTERPOL, SIS, VIS, EURODAC, and the ETIAS Watchlist. These integrations will allow European authorities to monitor visitors’ entry to the Schengen Area as well as prevent the entrance of individuals who may pose a risk to the wellbeing of the EU.
When Does ETIAS Launch?
ETIAS is currently still under development. Its initial opening date was scheduled for 2021. However, European authorities have announced that the implementation is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.
An initial grace period will be granted once ETIAS is open to the public in order to allow travelers to become familiar with the system. Consequently, the European visa waiver would be mandatory by 2023.
How Does ETIAS Change International Travel?
The implementation of ETIAS by all Schengen member nations improves visiting Europe in many ways.
The European visa waiver offers travelers:
- 2-year validity
- 90-day stay within a 180-day period
- Suitable for tourism, business, or transit
- Unlimited entries and free circulation in the EU
- Easy online application by filling out a web form
- Ideal for conferences, seminars, and short courses
- Faster automated checks at Schengen’s external borders
- Quick approval —most authorizations granted within 24 hours
- Entry into all 26 Schengen member states with one registration
- Access to 6 European Microstates —Andorra, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City
Travelers visiting Europe for tourism, leisure, or business will be able to reuse the same ETIAS for different trips during its 2-year validity period, as long as their passport remains valid.
How Can Travelers Get an ETIAS?
ETIAS can be obtained entirely online, eliminating the hassle of having to visit an embassy or consulate to apply for a visa.
The electronic application allows travelers to save time since the vast majority of requests will be approved within the first 24 hours. It is advisable, however, to apply 3 business days before the intended departure date to allow enough time for processing, just in case.
The application process is quick and straightforward, and the requirements are simple:
To get an ETIAS visa waiver for Europe, users just need to:
- Fill out the online application form with their personal details, passport data, and contact information, then answer the quick questions about security and travel
- Pay for the fees using a credit or debit card
- Receive the approved ETIAS travel authorization via email
Once approved, the ETIAS visa waiver for Europe will remain electronically linked to the passport used during the application process. When travelers have their passport scanned at the Schengen borders upon arrival, the approved ETIAS will automatically be visible to border authorities.
Visitors with an approved ETIAS who comply with the European entry requirements will be granted entry into the Schengen Area, and their entrance will be registered in the Entry/Exit System.
Travelers who do not comply with the entry requirements or do not have a valid ETIAS visa waiver will be refused entry. Their entry rejection will be registered in the Entry/Exit System.
As soon as the visa waiver becomes mandatory, passengers without an ETIAS will no longer be allowed to board a flight or ship towards Europe.
Having to register online to get an ETIAS is a small extra step all eligible travelers will have to take. Nevertheless, these 10 minutes will make enjoying your favorite European destinations safer than ever!