What is ETIAS?
- Launching by the end of 2022 (expected), ETIAS, which stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System, is an IT system meant to identify unique threats posed by visa-exempt travelers to the Schengen area.
- Once activated, ETIAS will seek to identify and reduce a range of security challenges presented by visa exempt travelers, including security risks, biological (disease) threats, and irregular migration patterns.
- The goal of ETIAS is therefore to reduce the security gap presented by visa-free travelers to the Schengen Area by subjecting them to additional security background checks.
- Additionally, ETIAS aims to expediate travel for citizens from visa-exempt countries seeking access to the Schengen area by reducing Schengen-related bureaucracy as well as delays at Schengen entry points, while also helping potential visitors understand their travel options.
- ETIAS is grounded in the Schengen Agreement’s principle of free movement and its commitment to open borders and security for its members.
How is ETIAS different from a Schengen visa?
ETIAS is NOT a visa; it is a travel authorization. ETIAS, therefore, differs from a Schengen visa in the following ways:
- ETIAS authorization is not accessible via consulates or embassies.
- ETIAS does not require you to provide biometric data, such as fingerprints.
- The ETIAS application fee is much lower compared to the Schengen visa application fee (7 EUR to 80 EUR, respectively). Furthermore, you do not need to present any of your financial information in order to obtain an ETIAS.
- ETIAS forms take several minutes to complete; the timeline for filling out a Schengen visa application is much longer, requiring you to fill out multiple pages and provide multiple supplemental documents and materials.
- The processing time for an ETIAS authorization is significantly lower than for a Schengen visa (an average of 10 minutes vs. an average of 15 days, respectively).
- ETIAS are valid for unlimited entry over a period of several years, versus Schengen visas, which are valid for 90 days within a 180-day period.
Who is (and who is not) affected by ETIAS?
- ETIAS will NOT affect citizens of Schengen Member States
- ETIAS will NOT affect citizens of non-Schengen member E.U. States.
- ETIAS will NOT affect citizens of third-party states who require a visa to travel to the Schengen area.
- ETIAS WILL affect citizens of non-EU states who are otherwise exempt from needing a visa to the Schengen area.
- Citizens from the following 59 Visa-free countries will be subject to the new ETIAS system:
31. Republic of Moldova
2. Antigua and Barbuda
33. New Zealand
7. Bosnia and Herzegovina
9. Brunei Darussalam
39. Saint Kitts and Nevis
40. Saint Lucia
41. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
13. Costa Rica
15. El Salvador
46. Solomon Islands
47. South Korea
20. Hong Kong
51. Trinidad and Tobago
54. United Arab Emirates
25. Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
55. United Kingdom
56. United States of America
27. Marshall Islands
As a result of BREXIT, UK citizens, as well as, British nationals (Overseas), British overseas territories citizens (BOTC), British overseas citizens (BOC), British protected persons (BPP) and British subjects (BS), will all be required to issue an ETIAS.
How to apply for an ETIAS
- If you are a citizen of a visa-exempt country seeking to travel to the Schengen area, you will be able to fill out an ETIAS online application form, either through the ETIAS official website or through an app on your phone.
- The information you provide will be run through the European Union’s data systems containing information related to borders and security.
- These databases include the SCHENGEN VIS (Visa Information System), EUROPOL DATA, and SLTD (Interpol).
- ETIAS will perform a background check against its collective database to see if you have any criminal history or negative immigration history.
- The system will likely ask you to provide the following data:
- Basic information (name, age, birthplace, etc.).
- Travel document (passport number, expiration date, etc.).
- Previous Schengen visa history (i.e. whether you have ever been refused entry to, or expelled from, the Schengen area).
- ETIAS criminal record questions (i.e. background questions that might be relevant to E.U. security).
- Note, if someone else is submitting the application on your behalf, he or she must present her basic information or that of the entity they represent.
- If you are over 18, you will pay an ETIAS application fee of 7 EUR.
- Once paid, ETIAS will begin processing your application. This process will take a maximum of 10 minutes, although in exceptional cases, it can take up to 30 days. If your application raises any flags, it will be manually checked by ETIAS Central Unit and ETIAS National Unit(s). The resulting decision will depend on three elements: your answers to the ETIAS application questions, your travel documents, and your background check against the E.U.’s security databases.
- The vast majority of people do not show up in the system and are therefore given their ETIAS travel authorization, commonly (but incorrectly) referred to as an ETIAS travel permit or ETIAS travel visa.
- This document is valid for 3 years or until your travel document expires. If your application is not accepted, you will be denied an ETIAS.
- ETIAS will provide justification for your refusal, which you have the right to appeal.
- If your ETIAS application is approved, you are free to travel to the Schengen area. Upon boarding a flight or a vessel to enter the Schengen area, your carrier will check to make sure that you have a valid travel authorization from ETIAS.
- A final check of your ETIAS validity is conducted by border agents at the Schengen border crossing point.
- If your ETIAS authorization is judged valid, you are free to enter the Schengen Member State and travel throughout the Schengen area.
Additional Information for ETIAS
- Because ETIAS is not yet operation, it is unclear how it will work in practice.
- The above structure, format, and steps of the system and the application process therefore may be subject to changes.
- If you are a non-E.U. citizen of a visa-exempt state seeking entry to the Schengen, you may wish to contact the consular authority of the Schengen state you are seeking entry to for updated information regarding ETIAS.