What is ETIAS?

ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System. It is an electronic system developed by the EU to keep track of visitors from countries which citizens do not require a visa for Europe. It is connected to several international databases, that can verify your identity within minutes.

Certain travellers can stay in the Area for up to 90 days without applying for a Schengen Visa. However, with the help of the ETIAS system, it would be possible to track whoever wishes to enter the EU and prevent potential national threats.

The European Commission has approved the implementation of ETIAS in 2016. The project is expected to enter into force by 2021. In our guide, you will find all the information you need to know before the enactment of ETIAS.

Who will need to apply for ETIAS?

Not all the non-EU nationals require a Visa to enter the Schengen Area. At the moment, 62 counties are not part of the EU, but yet enjoy visa-free status.

Albania Georgia Monaco Solomon Islands
Andorra Grenada Montenegro South Korea
Antigua and Barbuda Guatemala Nauru Taiwan
Argentina Vatican City State New Zealand Timor-Leste
Australia Honduras Nicaragua Tonga
Bahamas Hong Kong North Macedonia Trinidad and Tobago
Barbados Israel Palau Tuvalu
Bosnia and Herzegovina Japan Panama Ukraine
Brazil Kiribati Paraguay United Arab Emirates
Brunei Macao Peru United States of America
Canada Malaysia Saint Kitts and Nevis Uruguay
Chile Marshall Islands Saint Lucia Vanuatu
Colombia Mauritius Samoa Venezuela
Costa Rica Mexico Serbia  
Dominica Micronesia Seychelles
El Salvador Moldova Singapore

Based on the EU Parliament regulations, citizens of these countries can visit the Schengen Zone for up to 90 days without requiring a visa. However, they can only travel for business or leisure purposes: working or studies in EU is not permitted, unless for visa holders.

Is ETIAS a visa?

The EU’s main principle is the free movement of people. For this reason, the ETIAS authorization is not a visa nor introduce visa-like obligations.

Unlike other visas, you do not need to submit your application to a consulate, and your biometrics are not going to be collected.

The ETIAS system can check your personal information against several international databases. You will receive your response in a few minutes, and you will be able to travel freely within three years.

It is important to note that the ETIAS authorization has a nonimmigrant intent. This means it can be used merely for business or leisure purposes. If you wish to work, study, or settle in the EU, you should apply for a national visa.

How will ETIAS work?

The ETIAS authorization will resemble the U.S. ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). Both programs are intended to enhance security at the border checks.

The system will undergo a security check for each applicant who wishes to enter the EU. In doing this, it will determine whether you can enter the Schengen Area. At the same time, it will gather relevant information about you and share it with other EU members.

Every time you re-enter the EU, ETIAS will update your details, speeding up your process of admission in every country member.

The idea behind the ETIAS authorization is to enhance security for both travellers and EU countries. By implementing the ETIAS system, Europe would ensure safe travel in its countries. This includes:

  • Improving the EU country borders procedures;
  • Preventing irregular migration;
  • Restraining terrorism and crime;
  • Reinforcing the free circulation of people through the visa liberalization policy of the EU.

How to submit an ETIAS application

At the moment, applications for ETIAS are not yet available. However, the EU Commission is developing a system that will be easy and intuitive to use.

The ETIAS application will be entirely online, available for visa-exempt non-EU citizens. The entire application process will take no more than 10 minutes. You will also be able to upload your documents, such as:

  • Your travel documents and ID;
  • Information about the purpose of your stay or transit;
  • Your travel itinerary;
  • Evidence of your criminal records.

Before you submit your online ETIAS application, you must pay your fee. The ETIAS cost will be of €7, and the payment will be mandatory for applicants between the ages of 18 and 70.

The ETIAS system will automatically check your data against several international databases. If your application is approved, you will get your valid European Travel Visa within minutes. Otherwise, you will receive a letter stating the reason for the refusal.

Since the ETIAS authorization is not a visa, you will not receive any physical evidence of your travel permit. Your status will be already registered in the EU IT system when you cross the border.

If you wish to transit through EU as a part of your journey, you can request your ETIAS authorization at the application kiosks. These will be soon installed in every European airport.

etias system

How long will my ETIAS last?

Based on the current ETIAS plan, the European Travel Visa will be valid for three years. During this period, you will be able to visit the EU for up to 90 days at a time.

However, you must respect the 90/180 rule, meaning you cannot stay in the area for more than 90 days in each 180-day period. On the other hand, you can enter the EU and the Schengen Area for as many times as you want as long as your ETIAS is valid.

In some exceptional cases, your ETIAS authorization can be revoked. This may especially happen if there are serious grounds for believing that you lied on your application form.

In addition, if you lose your travel document, you will need to apply for a new ETIAS permit since the previous one will be invalidated. The same applies if your passport expires before the end of your ETIAS validity period.

ETIAS system for British citizens

In the event of Brexit, British citizens will need to complete the ETIAS application before they can travel to the EU. However, they will still be granted visa-free access to the Schengen Area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

Since the UK is still going through the Brexit procedures, at the moment, there is no need to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver. In other words, your British passport grants you the right to move and work freely in the EU.

What is the difference between ETIAS authorization and the Schengen Visa?

There is still time before the ETIAS system is introduced. However, it is essential to understand how it will differ from the Schengen Visa.

Travelling through the Schengen Area is regulated by a visa. It can be used to stay in or transit through any of the 26 countries who are part of the treaty. However, it is not valid to enter one of the six European Union members that are included in this zone. This includes the UK.

Conversely, the ETIAS authorization is available for the nationals of the 62 countries that are not part of the EU. Citizens of these states can already travel freely within Europe without a visa. Consequently, the introduction of the ESTA system will not change this benefit.

This scheme will introduce a simpler way to control migration in the EU, and its benefits will be valid for both Schengen members and non-members.

The ETIAS authorization and the Schengen Visa are not mutually exclusive. Based on your destinations, you can decide which permit is more appropriate for you.

If you hold a Schengen Visa, you will not need to get an ETIAS authorization. However, there are European countries that are not part of the Schengen Area and vice versa. For this reason, it is advisable to check if you can enjoy visa-free travel in your country of destination before you plan your trip.

Do you want to learn more about ETIAS authorization?

If you are interested in exploring the new European Travel Visa and your options to visit the EU, you can contact IAS.

Our team of immigration experts will be happy to discuss your circumstances and advise you on how to proceed. If you are a non-EU national, you may need a Schengen Visa. One of our immigration advisers can help you complete your application form so that you can easily plan your trip.

Get in touch today with one of our immigration lawyers. You can call us or use our online contact form to ask for a call back from one of our advisers.

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