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Applying for ETIAS With a Criminal record: A Guide

The European Union introduced the ETIAS visa waiver in 2018.

The essence of the online application form is to allow third-country nationals to travel into European territory without visas.

However, there are questions about ETIAS approval for people with criminal records.

This article addresses these concerns and clarifies if people with criminal histories can also get ETIAS.

Do you need help with applying for ETIAS with a criminal record? We are here to help. Reach out to us on 0333 305 9375 for quick assistance.


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Can I Apply For ETIAS with a Criminal Record?

Generally speaking, if you have a criminal conviction, whether for a serious crime like a terrorist offence or a minor criminal conviction like public disturbance, you can apply for travel authorization to any ETIAS-eligible country.

However, the chances of getting an ETIAS after applying might vary on the nature of your crime committed, the kind of punishment you received, and how long ago the conviction happened.

Like the ETIAS visa waiver, countries like Canada and America have strict no-admission policies for foreign visitors with criminal convictions (eTA for Canada and ESTA for the US).

For these countries, applicants who have been charged with serious crimes and even minor criminal offences long past may be denied entry.

Sometimes, it would take extra processes for someone with a criminal record to receive an ETIAS.

In later parts of this article, we shall discuss the requirements for obtaining an ETIAS approval with a criminal record.

Policies That Govern Applying For ETIAS With A Criminal History

ETIAS policies vary from country to country. However, we will begin with the general policies. The first thing to know is that if you don’t indicate that you have a previous conviction in your form, you might never get questioned about it. But it is not advised.

More often than not, border patrol officers rarely ask questions about minor offences, especially in Schengen countries. Tourists, short-stay travellers, and people from visa-free countries may not also receive questions about any criminal conviction.

However, on some occasions, they could question you about your criminal record. At this point, your entry to the EU country may depend on your history. Ensure that you answer every question genuinely and politely. This is because your allowance into the country largely depends on the border official.

If you recently have a heavy stain on your record, you might not be allowed into the country. If you get denied, don’t panic yet. You can still get into the country. All you need is a Schengen visa waiver.

Applicants who have been in jail for over 36 months, imprisoned for over 24 months for drug offences, or were charged with human trafficking or black marketing may be refused entry into ETIAS-supported countries.

Germany has stringent rules related to applying for ETIAS with a criminal record. It will deny applicants access to ETIAS if they fall victim to the circumstances in the previous paragraph. While the Germans are hard and fast about their rules, like the UK and other EU countries, they are less bothered about crimes committed outside their territories or that of other member states.

But unlike Germany, the United Kingdom offers ETIAS to immigrants in the spent convictions category. They are:

  • People who last served jail time between six and thirty months, ten years ago. These people get rehabilitated after ten years.
  • People who were punished to stay behind bars for less than six months or to pay fines. They get rehabilitated within five years.

Once a person’s criminal case is deemed spent, such a person can go scot-free at the immigration office. Their case will not prevent them from gaining ETIAS or access to the country. But people who had over thirty months behind bars cannot be rehabilitated. Neither can they be considered as spent.

The ETIAS Application Process With A Criminal Record

While there are still studies and adjustments to the ETIAS application details and procedures from the ETIAS central unit, the form will have basic requirements. They include:

  • Applicant’s name
  • Applicant’s age
  • Applicant’s gender
  • Applicant’s address
  • Applicant’s health
  • Other details about the applicant’s criminal activity, including fines, terrorist offences, and any other serious criminal record.

Note that the officials may only check your criminal record if you indicate on the form that you have a criminal record.

the etias application process with a criminal record

Do European Countries Share Criminal Records? 

Since the European Union is very concerned about offences committed within its territories, it has set up a body called the European Criminal Records Information System, otherwise called ECRIS.

Its purpose is to share information between European countries and the Schengen area about EU and non-EU citizens with criminal records.

The ECRIS implementation will serve as an etias security database for those visiting Europe with a criminal record.

It will aid law enforcement authorities in discovering those who lie about their convictions or want to run to a different European Union country to avoid sentences.

How Does ECRIS For Third Country Nationals Work?

The EU-LISA controls ECRIS. ECRIS was created for third-country nationals. It was designed to govern several large-scale information systems related to EU security. The system performs the following functions to keep crime within the EU in check:

  • The system will check all applicants and detect if they have any criminal records. It will signify a “Hit”, stating the crime location(s), if guilty. It signifies a “No Hit” if the applicant is free.
  • The criminal information system will reveal records of applicants’ biometrics and pictures.
  • The criminal records system will detect relationships of every applicant with terrorists if there are any. It will also discover potential security risks.
  • The ECRIS spots people’s stolen identities.

The ECRIS also performs other functions asides from detecting criminal activities. It is useful for granting authorizations to individuals who want to work with children or use weapons.

Do you need help with applying for ETIAS with a criminal record? Our team can help you.

How Can IAS Help You?

ETIAS applies to non-EU citizens. However, the EU intends to maintain security around and within its borders. This is why there are measures for those with criminal records.

Do you have issues with making your ETIAS application? Are you unsure of being accepted with your criminal history?

Our immigration experts and lawyers are available to help. For support, contact us at 0333 305 9375 or fill out our online form.

We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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Frequently Asked Questions

When filling out the ETIAS application form, you should input your basic information, passport details, and other information related to your travelling. You should also give details about your health status, previous convictions, and past travels.

Yes, you can visit Europe with a criminal record. Although, you may be denied entry if you recently served a heavy sentence. However, a Schengen visa can grant you access to a European country with a criminal record.

Many times, ETIAS does not require you to state your convictions that happened over ten years ago. It is often between four to ten years. However, terrorism is a different case. If you have a previous criminal conviction of up to 20 years ago, you must report it.

No, you will not need ETIAS in 2022. Rather, it will become functional from 2023. Every person travelling to any region within the European Union will have to apply for ETIAS online before travelling. It is not limited to any age grade and will remain valid for 36 months. It can also expire if the holder’s passport expires.

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