ETIAS: What does it mean for future trips to Europe?
What you need to know about the new ETIAS system
There are 62 countries not in the European Union (EU) or Schengen Zone whose citizens can enter without needing a visa, and can travel visa-free for up to 90 days for purposes other than to work or study. From 2022 they will need to apply via the new ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) system which replaces existing visa waiver arrangements.
What is ETIAS?
ETIAS is an electronic system that will keep track of visitors from countries with visa-free arrangements with Schengen states. It resembles the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which travelers to the U.S. currently use before entering the country. As part of ETIAS, applicants will be security checked and it will keep track of and update information on visitors.
How will ETIAS change the existing system for visa-free travel?
Previously, those from a country with a visa waiver arrangement with the Schengen states only needed a valid travel document to enter the area - although you may have been challenged to provide proof of your accommodation and means of subsistence, as well as your itinerary, in order to prove you could support yourself during a stay lasting fewer than 90 days.
After ETIAS comes into effect you will need to fill out an ETIAS application form, which is expected to take about 10 minutes to complete. It will be online, so you will not have to go through paperwork. Applications made via post or email will not be accepted - they must be completed via the online form. The cost of an application is expected to be €7. For persons under the age of 18, or over 70, a fee will not be charged.
When applying, you must give the following :
- your name,
- name at birth,
- date and place of birth,
- proof of citizenship of your home country,
- your address,
- email, and phone number,
- education and work experience,
- as well as the name of the first EU country you intend to visit.
Additionally, you will be required to answer background and eligibility questions relating to any medical conditions, plans to travel to war-torn countries or places where you were deported or rejected, and criminal records. The only document you will need is your valid biometric passport, preferably with an electronic chip.
If you are a minor, your legal guardian must apply for your ETIAS, while family members of EU citizens from other countries must submit proof of relationship and other background information. All travelers, including children, will require ETIAS authorization.
When will ETIAS come into effect?
ETIAS was originally due to come into effect in early 2021, but the implementation of the system has now been delayed until 2022, and will not be mandatory until 2023. Although ETIAS will not be obligatory until after the grace period lasting through 2022, eligible travelers are encouraged to apply via this method.
Do I need travel insurance to apply for ETIAS?
Unlike with a Schengen Visa, you do not need to obtain travel and medical insurance as a condition of applying for ETIAS authorization. However, it is strongly advised as without it you may not be covered for medical expenses and repatriation or assistance if your luggage is lost or flights are delayed. The fact that travel insurance is not a mandatory requirement of obtaining ETIAS authorization means you may be able to use existing insurance, but Schengen travel insurance covering you across the area for up to 90 days of travel is also available from AXA from as little as €0.99 per day.
Will the ETIAS system affect the existing process when applying for a Schengen Visa?
ETIAS will not change the visa rules for Schengen Area countries, as this is a separate process - meaning those requiring a Schengen Visa will still need to apply for this as before. It merely creates an additional entry requirement for those who wish to travel visa-free. Once ETIAS comes into effect it may be worth checking whether your country is planning on signing a visa-free arrangement as this would change the process you are required to go through from a Schengen Visa to an ETIAS application.
How long will ETIAS approval take?
If you are not deemed a risk and require no additional background checks, the whole procedure is expected to be completed in only a few minutes, but if there is a hit from the ETIAS database, the application will be manually processed - which is expected to take about 96 hours (four days), or a maximum of two weeks.
Do I need to apply for ETIAS authorization for each trip?
One of the advantages of the ETIAS system is that if approved, the ETIAS will be valid for three years or until the end of validity of the travel document registered during the application, whichever comes first - meaning you will not need to reapply for a second visit during this period. You may, however, need to reapply if your personal circumstances and details change.
What if my ETIAS application is denied?
If your application is unsuccessful, you will be given a reason as to why the ETIAS was denied. You could appeal this decision or adjust your application and try again.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the new ETIAS system
Do I need ETIAS if I have a Schengen Visa?
If you have a Schengen Visa, then you do not need ETIAS authorization. When your visa expires, you can apply for ETIAS, if you are eligible.
Can I travel to other European countries outside the Schengen Area using ETIAS?
No, the ETIAS is only accepted in countries that are part of the Schengen zone or the ETIAS program. You can learn about participating ETIAS countries here : https://etias.com/etias-countries/.
Can I apply for ETIAS authorization if I have a criminal record?
Yes, you will still be able to apply for ETIAS authorization but may be required to discuss the circumstances around your conviction. If your application is denied, you have the right to appeal to the state that made the decision to deny you the right to travel.