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Mandatory visa to Europe: What is ETIAS?

by Juan José Herranz | April 29, 2021
Trees in a Lake in Europe

With its historical legacy, exquisite gastronomy, and a blend of unique traditions, Europe stands as an unparalleled destination for those seeking adventure and cultural enrichment. Starting 2024, you will probably need an ETIAS travel authorization, similar to a visa to Europe. Continue reading to find out more about the ETIAS.

The ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) is the new European visa system for those having a passport being issued by a non-Schengen country. This travel permit or visa will allow a more extensive control of all travellers visiting Europe from outside the continent, which will reinforce security and determine whether it is safe to enter any of the countries from the European Union and the Schengen area.

Although this visa is a novelty in Europe, most countries in the world have had a similar authorization system in place for years. Many countries have implemented an electronic travel authorization (ETA), which allows them to control all people travelling to their territory.

The Grand Canal of Venice

When does the ETIAS start?

ETIAS should have been implemented from mid-February of 2021, but due to the situation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, ETIAS has been postponed until the end of 2023.

From that moment on, all non-Schengen citizens will have to go through this procedure to travel to any of the countries in the Shengen area. This system collects basic travellers data which, upon scrutiny by the authorities, will determine the possibility to enter any country in Europe.

Which countries must apply for an ETIAS?

Currently, 62 nationalities are eligible to apply for ETIAS, a mandatory requirement for citizens of countries outside the European Union who wish to travel to Europe. These are the countries: Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, South Korea, Costa Rica, Dominica, El Salvador, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Georgia, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Kiribati, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, United Kingdom, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Vatican City State, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, East Timor, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Ukraine und Uruguay.

Which countries can I travel to with an ETIAS?

You can travel to all European countries that are part of the Schengen area. The Schengen area is made up of the following 26 countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

The concepts of European Union and Schengen area should not be confused. The countries in Europe that do not belong to the Schengen Area are Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Ireland, United Kingdom and Romania. These countries are outside the EU electronic authorization system and have their own rules for entering their territory.

ETIAS Requirements

To get your travel permit ETIAS to travel to Europe you must have these documents:

  • Valid passport (for at least 3 months after the intended date of departure)
  • Email where the ETIAS will be sent to
  • Credit or debit card to pay the costs 

In the ETIAS application, you will have to provide information on: name, date and place of birth, gender, nationality, country of birth, passport number, issuance and expiration date, current address, email, phone number, background and security questions.

Neuschwanstein in Germany

What is the Schengen area?

The Schengen area was formed following the Schengen Agreement. With this agreement, 26 European nations removed passport control amongst them to promote free movement of their citizens.

Out of these 26 countries that signed the agreement, there are 4 that do not belong to the European Union. These 4 countries are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, which belong to the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and are integrated into the Schengen area.

Is the United Kingdom in the ETIAS?

The United Kingdom left the European Union on January 31, 2021. Following its departure, a trade and cooperation agreement has been decreed between the European Union and the United Kingdom, but it is not governed by the same rules as the rest of the countries of the union. The United Kingdom does not belong to the Schengen area, like Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania. These countries will have to implement measures of immigration and movement control following the ETIAS.

It is very likely that the UK will implement its own ETA (electronic travel authorization) so that both Schengen and non-Schengen nationals can travel to the country. If this measure is implemented, UK residents or nationals will have to apply for an ETIAS to travel to Schengen countries, and Schengen countries will have to apply for an ETA to travel to the UK.

How to apply for an ETIAS travel authorization?

You will have to apply for an ETIAS travel authorization before travelling to Europe. With this process becomes very easy. You will just need to fill in a simple online form and in some minutes you will receive your authorization in your email.

How long will the ETIAS authorization be valid?

Nothing is certain yet, but it is expected to be valid for a maximum of 3 years. With a valid ETIAS travel authorisation, you can enter the Schengen countries as often as you want for short-term stays of up to 90 days in a 180-day period.

Since the ETIAS authorisation is linked to your passport, if your passport expires, you will have to get another ETIAS.

Rynek Główny in Poland

ETIAS Visa UK: Do I need an ETIAS from the UK?

Yes, you will need to register for an ETIAS. Since Brexit, the UK is no longer a part of the EU.

ETIAS for US citizens: Do I need an ETIAS from the US?

Yes, all citizens from the US will need an ETIAS to travel to Europe.

Will it be possible to travel to all European countries with a single ETIAS?

While it will indeed be possible to travel to all Schengen member countries with a single ETIAS authorization, European countries that do not belong to the Schengen area will be excluded. The condition is that the ETIAS authorization must be obtained for the first Schengen country that the traveller is going to arrive at. Once in that country, you will be able to move freely through the rest of the associated countries without any problem.

Sagrada familia in Barcelona

Will minors need an ETIAS?

Yes, all minors under 18 are required to apply for ETIAS. Their parent or legal guardian should fill out the application form on their behalf.

What is the cost of the ETIAS visa?

As with the validity, there is no definitive price yet, but it is expected to be between 7 and 10 euros.

Is an ETIAS needed to transit through Europe?

If you intend to leave the international transit area of the airport, you will need to show an ETIAS electronic authorisation. If you remain in the international transit area until your next flight to your destination,  you won't need to have an ETIAS.

Can the ETIAS authorization be denied?

Of course, like any other authorization or visa, ETIAS may be denied if the person applying for it does not meet the requirements, has a criminal record, or may pose a dannger for the security of the country.