What is ETIAS and How Will it Affect Travel to the EU?

By jmarble on Mon, 09/20/2021 - 23:06


Learn everything about the new European Travel Authorization System, the ETIAS, and its implications for travelers

For many international travelers, all it took to enter Europe was a plane ticket, a passport, and a sense of adventure. Beginning in late 2022 that will change. 

The new European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is a future requirement for citizens of visa-exempt countries to enter the Schengen Area. This system will be managed by the European Union and its Member States and will replace individual country visas in 2022.

What is ETIAS and who will need it?

ETIAS, sometimes known as the ETIAS visa, is not quite like a traditional visa. Currently, there are many countries whose nationals may travel to Europe without a short-term visa. The United States is a great example and its citizens can visit Europe with their passports. When the new system launches in late 2022, nationals of these countries will have to apply for pre-authorization to cross the external Schengen border. The visa waiver, called "the ETIAS" will be a simple authorization that authorized travelers can apply for entirely online.

The Schengen Area is a 26-country region of Europe mostly comprised of European Union countries. The region allows for free travel across internal borders without the need for additional paperwork, but the way travelers access Europe will quickly change. Read more about the program here. 

This new system serves as both a visa waiver program and an advanced security screening for travel. The following countries will need to apply for the ETIAS visa:

Albania, Andorra, 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, Macau, Macedonia, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Taiwan, Timor Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Uruguay, Vanautu, Vatican City and Venezuela.

How will the ETIAS system work?

The process is fairly simple in concept but is backed by a complex digital infrastructure. The ETIAS application is entirely online; all travelers must provide the following information:

  • Valid passport information
  • Biographical information
  • Digital photo
  • Employment/school information

The application will be processed through several European Union security databases to check for possible security risks, including irregular migration patterns. Because the system is both confirming your identity and conducting a background check, any inconsistencies or inaccuracies in the application can result in delays up to a month.
Most applications will be processed and approved quickly, but planning ahead will ensure that your travel plans will not be delayed.

Do I need an ETIAS if I have a Schengen Visa?

No. ETIAS is only an option for visa-exempt countries.

Once the European Travel Information and Authorization System launches in late 2022, travelers from outside the region will need either the Schengen Visa or ETIAS, but not both.

The Schengen Visa is a much more complicated process, so if you are eligible for the waiver, it is recommended to apply for that instead. A visa requires significantly more paperwork, costs more, and in certain cases may even require an in-person interview.

If you are approved for an ETIAS visa for one country and you decide to visit another do you need to apply separately?

No, the ETIAS system approval authorizes entry into the Schengen Zone as a whole . Because of the border and trade agreements in the Schengen Zone, once you are approved to enter the external border of the region, you are free to travel across any internal borders throughout your trip. Do keep in mind that border agents will always have the final say as to who is allowed to enter any country. 

Additionally, your travel authorization is valid for three years after approval.




How is the ETIAS similar to the US ESTA Visa Waiver Program?

The United States requires travelers from eligible countries to apply for pre-authorization to travel in lieu of applying for a visa. Much like ETIAS, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is valid only for short-term travel (no more than 90 days in a 180-day period). Unlike the European version, which is valid for three years, ESTA is only valid for two years.

Both programs require holding a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the planned departure.

How do I apply for the ETIAS?

The application will be filled out online and must be filled out accurately. Even small errors can result in processing delays. The system has not officially launched yet, but when the European Commission opens the application portal, ETIA.com will be ready to assist you with the application process and ensure that you get it right the first time. 

European travel is changing. Get ready for new adventures. Learn more about the ETIAS application process now.   

The sights and sounds of Europe are ready when you are. Check out our complete ETIAS Guide to learn more about the new travel system and find answers to common questions.