If you’re travelling to the European Union’s (EU) Schengen Zone, perhaps for a one-week trip to Germany, then depending on your nationality, you’re currently either visa-exempt or you require a Schengen Visa. For example, Americans, Brits, Australians and Canadians can currently visit most of Europe for up to 90 days in a 180-day period visa-free. Meanwhile, if you’re from India or the Philippines, you need to apply for a Schengen Visa at the embassy of the first European country you plan to go to, and fortunately, the Schengen Visa similarly allows 90-day trips in a 6-month period.
Notably, though, if you hold a nationality that’s currently visa-exempt for Europe, then it will interest you to know that from late 2022 or early 2023, the EU is introducing what’s called the ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) visa waiver. This is an online travel pass that you’ll have to apply for prior to visiting Germany, France, Spain or any other of the Schengen Zone’s 26 Member States. Here are all the details you need to know about the ETIAS for your trips to Europe from 2022/3 onwards.
What Is the ETIAS?
It’s an online visa waiver, similar to the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) travel document that you apply for ahead of visiting the United States. As such, the ETIAS is an entirely digital system, where you’ll enter your personal and passport information into a website form, along with the details of your stay in Europe, to acquire the document.
The EU’s upcoming pass will be valid for journeys related to tourism, business, medical treatment, and transit on your way to a further destination. As a visa waiver, it will be significantly easier to obtain the ETIAS than a traditional visa, as you won’t have to visit an embassy, fill in any forms by hand, or even take any paperwork on your trip; instead, it’s all electronic.
Which Countries’ Citizens Will Be Eligible for the ETIAS?
Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, El Salvador, Georgia, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Kiribati, Macao, Macedonia, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Samoa, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Taiwan, Timor Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela
How Do I Apply for and Obtain the ETIAS?
You type your personal and passport details into the ETIAS website form on an eVisa service, like Byevisa. These details include your full name, your email address (where the confirmation will be sent to), your nationality, your country of residence, and the first Schengen state you plan to visit. You require a passport that’s valid for at least six months from your planned date of entry.
Notably, you also provide details of your medical and security background, so that the EU can verify your details on its databases. This is because, in part, Europe is introducing the ETIAS to better manage who enters and exits its frontiers. All in all, it’s thought that applying will take around 10 minutes.
Fortunately, once you’ve filled in the application form, in most cases obtaining your ETIAS approval will be virtually instantaneous. You’ll receive a confirmation email in your inbox. From there, you won’t even have to print the ETIAS email to take with you. Instead, your approval is electronically tied to your passport, which is scanned at customs as usual.
Where Can I Visit in Europe With the ETIAS and How Long For?
You can visit the 26 countries that make up the EU’s Schengen Area, plus three microstates. These are:
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, Switzerland.
The microstates are Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City.
Notably, you cannot visit the UK, which has now exited the EU because of Brexit. Meanwhile, other European countries such as Bulgaria, Croatia, Ireland, Cyprus and Romania currently maintain their own visa policies, although they’re expected to join the Schengen Area in the foreseeable future, at which point you could use the ETIAS to visit.
Just like under the current rules, you can visit the Schengen Zone for up to 90 days in a 180-day period with the ETIAS. In each 90-day stretch, you can visit multiple times. Meanwhile, each ETIAS is valid for up to three years from the date of issue, or when your passport expires (whichever comes first), so you can use this visa waiver for several holidays or business trips.
How Much Will the ETIAS Cost?
The ETIAS will cost 7€ per adult traveller. That said, fortunately, there’s no fee for children under 18 or adults over 70, which is good news if you’re planning a week’s holiday in Greece with your extended family! Importantly, though, even though the ETIAS is free for these latter groups, they still have to apply for one online, so that they’ve their permit.
Can I Renew the ETIAS Once I’ve Got It?
Yes. You’ll be able to apply for a new ETIAS once your current visa waiver has less than 120 days’ validity remaining. What’s more, you’ll be able to apply for a new visa waiver from within the Schengen Zone, without having to first return to your home country. So if you’re in the middle of a visit and need a new travel pass to stay longer, you can do so!
What If I’m From a Country That’s Ineligible for the ETIAS?
If you hold a nationality that won’t be able to apply for this visa waiver, then you obtain the Schengen Visa for your trips to Europe, just the same as before. The ETIAS only affects the citizens of countries who up until now have been visa-exempt for the Schengen Zone, like Brits and Americans, like we say above.
To summarise then, this upcoming visa waiver will add a little bit of bureaucracy to your trips to Europe from 2022/3. On the plus side, the EU is taking steps to compensate for this by making the ETIAS visa waiver straightforward to apply for and acquire, all online. So when you’re planning your future trips to Germany, Poland, Portugal, or any other of the 26 Schengen members, be sure to keep the ETIAS in mind.