There are many countries that are not in the European Union (EU) whose citizens can enter the EU Schengen Zone without needing a visa. Specifically, there are currently 63 countries that are not in the EU but are visa-free.
Citizens of these countries are allowed to go into countries in the Schengen Zone for business or travel purposes for up to 90 days. During these 90 days, these visitors are not allowed to work or study but can engage in business and tourism activities.
In addition, recent security concerns with terrorism and the migrant crisis have called for better management of who is entering EU borders. The EU has continuously declared its goal of making travelling within its borders a more secure experience.
To reduce procedures and wait times, as well as address the security concerns, the European Commission (EC) has come up with a solution – ETIAS.
This article will contain all the information you need regarding this new system and whether you qualify for it.
What is ETIAS?
ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System. It is a completely electronic system that allows and keeps track of visitors from countries who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Zone. In a way, it resembles the U.S Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which serves a similar purpose.
The legal procedures to pass the ETIAS have started in 2016, and the system is expected to be fully operational in November 2023.
The ETIAS will undergo a detailed security check of each applicant to determine whether they can be allowed to enter any Schengen Zone country. While citizens of countries who do not need a visa for travel purposes of up to 90 days in the EU do not need to go through a long process of applying for the visa, the ETIAS will make sure that these people are not a security threat. This travel authorization system will gather, keep track of, and update necessary information regarding visitors to determine whether it is safe for them to enter Schengen countries.
The ETIAS, besides being used for business and tourist purposes, will also allow people to visit the Schengen countries for medical and transit reasons. In addition, it will be mandatory for all countries that are Schengen visa-free.
Why ETIAS Authorisation?
In his 2016 State of the Union Address, President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker has said the following:
We need to know who is crossing our borders. This way we will know who is travelling to Europe before they even get here.
The main reason for the approval of the ETIAS authorization is security. With the increased risk of travellers worldwide, the EU wants to ensure safe travels in its countries. The ETIAS will decrease security concerns substantially through its information and data gathering systems. What this means is that the ETIAS will detect if a person is a threat in any way to the security of Schengen countries. This will lead to the person being denied entry and avoiding the threat of being present inside EU borders. It will basically deal with a problem before it is even there.
However, besides making travelling more secure, the ETIAS authorization will also assist the EU countries and all travellers in the following ways:
- Reduce procedures and application times
- Improve the management of EU country borders
- Assist in detecting and decreasing crime and terrorism
- Impede irregular migration
- Reinforce the visa liberalization policy of the EU
All in all, the ETIAS authorization will make travelling to the EU less of a hassle and a much safer experience.
THE TRAVEL AUTHORISATION SYSTEM WILL:
These are the European countries that will require a valid ETIAS upon arrival at their borders:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Who Will Need ETIAS?
As mentioned, the ETIAS targets citizens of countries who can enter the EU zone visa-free. As such, the following 63 countries will need to get the ETIAS authorization:
- A -- H
- I -- P
- S -- Z
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
- Hong Kong S.A.R*
- Macao S.A.R*
- Marshall Islands
- New Zealand
- North Macedonia
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent
- Solomon Islands
- South Korea
- Taiwan **
- Timor Leste
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
Until the launching of the system, more countries might be added to the list, but at the moment, all citizens of the above-mentioned countries will be obliged to obtain ETIAS authorization before entering any EU country.
* Special administrative regions of the People’s Republic of China.
** Entities and Territorial Authorities that are not recognised as states by at least one Member State.
>> ETIAS Eligibility Checker
How Will the ETIAS System Work?
The ETIAS system will be simple to use and will save time for applicants and for processing.
Those who want to get approval will have to follow these steps to apply for ETIAS:
Filling out the application form
The ETIAS application is expected to take about 10 minutes to fill out. It will be online so you will not have to go through paperwork. Depending on the country of citizenship that you choose, it will present you with several fields to fill. You must give the following information:
- Biometric information such as:
- First name
- Last name
- Last name at birth
- Date of birth
- Place of birth
- Information regarding your citizenship
- Email and phone number
- Education and work experience
- First EU country you intend to visit
- Background and eligibility questions will inquire about your medical condition, travel to war countries or places where you were deported or rejected, as well as criminal records
- For minors, the legal guardian must apply for ETIAS
- For family members of EU citizens from other countries, you must submit proof of relationship, residence card, and other background information
Submitting the application
When you complete the application, you will have to pay the fee and submit it. The system will do the following:
- Check if the information you gave was correct
- Check your eligibility
- Check your risk factors
If what you filled out on the application form is correct, and you are eligible and not risky for the ETIAS, then you will be approved. This whole procedure is expected to be completed in only a few minutes.
However, if there is a hit from the ETIAS, the application will be manually processed. The manual processing is expected to take about 96 hours (4 days), or a maximum of 2 weeks.
REVOCATION OR ANNULMENT OF ETIAS TRAVEL AUTHORISATION
How Much Will ETIAS Cost?
The ETIAS will not burden your finances a lot. It is planned to have the ETIAS cost only €7 for each application. This is only valid for adults over 18 years old, as those under 18 will not have to pay any fees. You can pay the fee by debit or credit card. Immediately after you complete the payment, the ETIAS authorization will start processing.
FAQ About ETIAS
Below you will find answers to commonly asked questions regarding the ETIAS authorization.
How long is the ETIAS valid?
If approved, the ETIAS might be valid for 3 years or until the end of validity of the travel document registered during the application, whichever comes first. Whether you will get the first period of validity or the second depends on the system’s evaluation of your information and risk.
Can my ETIAS application be denied?
Yes, any ETIAS application can be denied if there is anything wrong with it, like the following:
- The person applying has used a travel document that is reported as lost, stolen, misappropriated or invalidated in the Schengen Information System – SIS II.
- The applicant poses a security risk for the citizens and travellers of the Schengen Area.
- The applicant poses an illegal immigration risk.
- The applicant poses a high epidemic risk.
- An applicant is a person for whom there is an existing alert in SIS for the purpose of refusing entry and stay.
- The applicant fails to reply to a request for extra information or documentation within the deadline given.
- The applicant fails to attend an extra interview when required.
A travel authorisation can also be rejected in cases where there are reasonable and serious doubts about the authenticity of the information given and the supporting documents submitted by the person applying.
What if my ETIAS application is denied?
Within minutes of your submission of the application, you will get a response on the status of your ETIAS. If it is approved, congratulations! If not, though, you will get the denial message. In the denial message, you will also have a reason as to why the ETIAS was denied. You could appeal this decision, or based on the denial reason, you can adjust your application and try again.
How can I appeal an ETIAS rejection decision?
Every rejected applicant has the right to appeal the decision when he/she has proof the decision has been taken unjustly or by mistake.
The appeal procedures should be explained to applicants by the ETIAS National Unit of the Member State, which is responsible for rejecting the application.
>> Main Reasons Why ETIAS Applications May Be Rejected – and How to Appeal a Negative Decision
What documents do I need for the ETIAS authorization?
The only document you will need to apply for the ETIAS is your valid passport. Your passport might be required to have this information:
- Your digital photograph which is not glued to the passport
- A machine-readable passport – which is found below your passport picture and has two lines of numbers, letters, and symbols
- Electronic passport chip – which is not necessarily mandatory but would be an advantage. This chip can be found on the cover page of your passport at the bottom.
Upon submitting an ETIAS application, some travellers may be asked to submit additional documents.
Who will need to submit extra documents for ETIAS?
Upon the submission of an ETIAS application, some applicants might be asked to submit extra documents, as the ETIAS National Unit of the Member State responsible may deem the information provided by the applicant insufficient.
The applicant will receive the list of the additional documents he/she has to send through an e-mail.
The additional documents should be provided directly to the ETIAS National Unit of the Member State responsible through the secure account service within ten days of the date of receipt of the request.
Can I enter any EU country with the ETIAS authorization?
To use the ETIAS authorization correctly, you must first pass through the first country you stated in your application. If you were planning to go through Germany, Belgium, and Austria, and you stated in your application that the first country you will visit is Germany, you must go through it before you visit Belgium and Austria. After you enter your first country, you can visit any other country in the Schengen Zone for 90 days.
However, just because you have the ETIAS does not necessarily guarantee you entry into the EU countries. This is at the discretion of the border authorities.
There are countries in the EU, which are not in the Schengen Zone, and you cannot enter them with the ETIAS authorization.
How does ETIAS check my information?
ETIAS will be connected to many databases which can verify your information within minutes. That is why it’s important for all applicants to give honest responses and not try giving false information. If you are caught giving fraudulent information to the ETIAS system, you will be denied authorization. In addition, if your ETIAS is approved, but you are later found with incorrect or false information, your ETIAS will be revoked.
How long does it take to complete the ETIAS application?
As stated, the ETIAS application is expected to only take about 10 minutes to fill. After 10 minutes, you will receive a notification that your session has timed out and you might be asked to start from the beginning. To avoid this, try to go through the application carefully and save your information.
Do I need to attend an interview for ETIAS?
As a rule, an interview is not required for obtaining an ETIAS. Yet, very few applicants may have to attend in-person interviews in order for their ETIAS application to be fully processed. This will happen when there are doubts regarding the information or documentation provided by the applicant.
The ETIAS National Unit of the Member State responsible might invite the applicant for an interview.
The applicant should be notified of the interview through the e-mail service, within 72 hours of his/her submission of additional information or documents. The interview shall take place within ten days of the date of the invitation. In cases when the applicant fails to attend the interview, the application shall be refused.
What if I am not eligible for the ETIAS?
All citizens of countries in the table above (countries which can enter the EU without visas) are eligible to apply for the ETIAS. If you are not eligible for this travel authorization, it means that you are not a citizen of those countries. This means that you must obtain a Schengen Visa to enter the EU countries.
Do I need ETIAS if I have a Schengen Visa?
No, if you have a Schengen Visa, then you will not need an ETIAS authorization. You can present your visa to the border authorities when you enter the Schengen Zone countries. When your visa expires, you can apply for the ETIAS if you are eligible.
Will British citizens be required to have the ETIAS authorization?
All UK nationals will need to apply for ETIAS travel authorization by November 2023 when the scheme becomes fully operational.
UK residents who are passport holders of one of the countries with which the EU has a visa regime in place are not eligible to apply for an ETIAS despite their residency in Britain. They will instead have to apply for a regular Schengen visa.
How many times can I enter the EU with an ETIAS?
You can enter the Schengen member states as many times as you want, for as long as your ETIAS is valid, and you have not stayed more than 90 days in a 180-day period.
Are ESTA and ETIAS the same? What are their differences?
ESTA is the US equivalent of the EU ETIAS. While ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization, ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization.
You will not be able to enter the US with an ETIAS, just the same as an ESTA holder is not permitted to enter the EU without having an ETIAS or Schengen Visa. US citizens, which are permitted to enter Europe visa-free, starting from November 2023, will have to obtain an ETIAS prior to their trip to the Schengen Zone.
Is ETIAS a Visa?
No. The ETIAS authorisation is not a visa.
Nationals of visa liberalisation countries will continue to travel to the EU without a visa but will simply be required to obtain a travel authorisation via ETIAS prior to their travel.
ETIAS will be a simple, fast and visitor-friendly system, which will, in more than 95% of cases, result in a positive answer within a few minutes.
An ETIAS travel authorisation does not reintroduce visa-like obligations. There is no need to go to a consulate to make an application, no biometric data is collected and significantly less information is gathered than during a visa application procedure. Whereas, as a general rule, a Schengen visa procedure can take up to 15 days and can in some cases be extended up to 30 or 60 days, the online ETIAS application only takes a few minutes to fill in. The validity will be for a period of three years, significantly longer than the validity of a Schengen visa. An ETIAS authorisation will be valid for an unlimited number of entries.
Do I also need an ETIAS if I have a Schengen Visa?
If you have a Schengen Visa, that means you are not part of the list of the countries which are visa-exempt. Therefore, you will not need ETIAS authorization. You can present your visa to the border authorities when you enter the Schengen Zone countries. When your visa expires, you can apply for the ETIAS if you are eligible.
Do I need an ETIAS visa if I already have a long-term visa from one of the Member States?
Since a long-term visa issued by one of the member states gives you the right to move throughout the whole Schengen, you will not need to obtain a travel authorization for as long as you have the visa.
Do infants and children need ETIAS?
Every traveller, even infants and elders, will need to present a travel authorization upon their arrival in Schengen in order to be permitted to enter. However, people under the age of 18 are exempt from paying the fee.
Can a travel authorization be revoked?
Yes, a travel authorization can be revoked or annulled if the conditions for issuing the travel authorization no longer apply, or if the travel authorization holder is found to have violated any of the ETIAS rules.
What is the ETIAS watchlist?
This is a list that consists of data on people who are suspected to have committed or have been part of a criminal offence (such as terrorism). The ETIAS watchlist will be established based on the information provided by the Member States and Europol.
When will ETIAS be implemented?
ETIAS is expected to be operational in November 2023.
Latest updates about ETIAS
- EU Postpones Launch of ETIAS to November 2023 – 03.08.2023
- – 19.10.2021
- – 15.10.2021
- 1.4 Billion People Obliged to Apply for EU Travel Authorization by End of 2022, EU Border Agency Says– 13.10.2021
- – 03.08.2021
- Development of ETIAS System for Advance Checks of Visa-Free Travellers Moves Forward Despite COVID-19 – 09.06.2021
- – 19.03.2021
- EU Confirms: COVID-19 Hasn’t Affected Preparations for Entry Into Operation of ETIAS Scheme – 07.10.2020
- EU Commission Reveals New Details on ETIAS Travel Authorization – 09.03.2020
- ETIAS Travel Authorization for Britons Won’t Be Mandatory in 2021 – 09.03.2020
- ETIAS is being delayed for 2022. It won’t be mandatory until 2023 – 08.03.2020
- ETIAS Won’t Apply to Russian Diplomatic Passport Holders – 24.02.2020
- Confirmed: Citizens of Four European Microstates Will Not Need the New EU Travel Authorization – 06.02.2020
- ETIAS Regulation enters into force – 09.10.2018
- European Council adopts regulation on the establishment of ETIAS – 05.09.2018
- European Parliament has given its final agreement to establish ETIAS – 05.07.2018
- EU Ambassadors Approve Electronic Travel Authorization System for Third Countries – 25.04.2018
- ETIAS about to improve visa-free travelling pre-entry control – 19.10.2017
- European travel information and authorisation system – Council agrees negotiating position – 10.06.2017
- Non-EU travellers now will face a €5 fee to enter the passport-free Schengen Zone –16.11.2016
- Brussels prepares EU-wide scheme for visa-free travel authorisation–27.08.2016
* Special administrative regions of the People’s Republic of China
** Entities and Territorial Authorities that are not recognised as states by at least one Member State
Infographics: © European Commission
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Do I need ETIAS in 2022? ›
The European Union have confirmed the introduction of the ETIAS program that will become operational in early 2023. ETIAS stands for EU Travel Information & Authorisation System. Travellers visiting Europe from 2023 onwards will be required to obtain an approved ETIAS online prior to their departure.What questions will be asked on ETIAS? ›
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U.S. citizens over the age of 18 will be required to apply online for the ETIAS online visa waiver to enter and travel around the Schengen member countries. American nationals can apply for an ETIAS directly online.Will I need a visa to travel to Europe in 2023? ›
ETIAS registration from late 2023
ETIAS will be required to visit any Schengen country. ETIAS is similar to the United States. ETIAS is not a visa but will be an essential travel document. With ETIAS, tourists can visit all Schengen countries for up to 90 days, for tourism or business.
You do not need a visa for short trips to EU countries, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein if both of the following apply: you're staying for 90 days or less in a 180-day period. you're visiting as a tourist or for certain other reasons.Will ETIAS only ask about previous 10 years convictions? ›
Any of these offences committed within the last 10 years must be disclosed. The only exception to this is terrorism where any crimes committed within the last 20 years must be detailed. In most cases, providing information about a criminal record won't contravene the requirements of an ETIAS visa waiver.How long does ETIAS approval take? ›
After submission, your ETIAS application will be processed instantly and you will receive a decision from the system within 96 hours or less. A small percentage of applications may take up to four weeks to process if additional documentation is required from the applicant.Can you get an ETIAS with a criminal record? ›
Apply for the ETIAS visa waiver with a criminal record
However, the EU have made it clear that only those responsible for serious crime or terrorism will be denied an ETIAS visa waiver.
From November 2023, the ETIAS visa waiver for Spain is a requirement for citizens (of eligible countries) traveling to this European country. The online application will be straightforward and hassle-free.
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ETIAS Spain for U.S. Citizens. From November 2023, citizens of the U.S. will need to apply for ETIAS to travel to Spain. The new ETIAS visa waiver will be available to Americans entering the Schengen Area for short periods.Do I need a ETIAS to enter Europe? ›
The ETIAS travel authorisation will be needed to enter a Schengen member country by air, land or sea. From November 2023, visitors that do not need a visa to enter Europe will be able to register with ETIAS. ETIAS will become a mandatory entry requirement.Who needs to apply for ETIAS? ›
Citizens of all visa-exempt countries, which are outside of the European Union, will be required to make an ETIAS application before their trip to the Schengen Area. An ETIAS grants entry to the European states in the Schengen Area. These countries have no passport checks at their mutual borders.How much will an ETIAS cost? ›
How Much Will an ETIAS Cost? The ETIAS will cost 7 € for applicants over 18, and will be free for applicants under the age of 18 and over the age of 70. The fee has to be paid online through a valid debit or credit card.Will UK citizens need ETIAS? ›
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The ETIAS travel authorisation will be needed to enter a Schengen member country by air, land or sea. From November 2023, visitors that do not need a visa to enter Europe will be able to register with ETIAS. ETIAS will become a mandatory entry requirement.Is an ETIAS required to travel to Europe? ›
The ETIAS travel authorisation will be a mandatory pre-condition for entry to the Schengen States. It will be checked together with the travel documents by the border guards when crossing the EU border.Do you need ETIAS to go to Europe? ›
American citizens will be required to apply for an ETIAS to enter participating European countries on a short term basis, under 90 days, for general tourism, business, transit or medical purposes.