The ETIAS program, already partly in effect, affects all those planning to travel to Europe. The Schengen authorities are using new strategies and technologies such as ETIAS to make the region safer for tourists and residents alike.
Who Are The Schengen Authorities and Where is Schengen?
Hint: Schengen is not a new country.
If you haven’t heard, Schengen is a treaty among member countries of what’s called the Schengen Zone. The Schengen Agreement and region are named after the town in Luxembourg where the agreement was signed. Since 1985, it has allowed people and goods to pass freely across the borders of each country without passport or other controls. The Schengen Zone is great news for travelers.
Now it encompasses almost all EU Member States and a few associated non-EU countries — about 27 countries in total. Although internal borders are gone, external border controls have been tightened. You can see the complete list of Schengen countries as of August 2023 on the map below.
What is ETIAS and How Will it Affect Travel to Europe?
One of the Schengen strategies for keeping the region safer for tourists and residents is the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). Also known as ETIAS, it should be fully implemented — after several delays — in early 2024.
The new visa waiver program applies to citizens of countries that currently do not require a visa to enter the Schengen area (like citizens of Canada and the United States.) In total, about 60 nationalities are included in the program. This means that if you come from an eligible nation and are planning to travel to Europe during early 2024, you will need to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver.
Keep reading to find more ETIAS information here, including:
- What ETIAS is and how it will work
- What are the
benefits of ETIAS for Europeans and foreign travelers
- How ETIAS will affect traveling with your family to Europe.
How Does the ETIAS Program Work?
There are many nationalities that are allowed into the Schengen territory without a visa. The ETIAS program is an electronic visa waiver that will allow eligible foreign citizens to register before traveling to Europe.
ETIAS is not a visa. This means that if you’re currently able to enter Europe without a visa, you will not lose your visa-free status starting in 2024. However, ETIAS will be mandatory. You will need to register with the system and obtain the visa waiver before arriving at the border. Keep in mind that a similar travel authorization system is already in place in the US, Canada and Australia for foreign visitors from visa-exempt nations.
Fortunately, the ETIAS application will be completed entirely online. You won’t need to see a travel agent or visit a European embassy. You can submit the form and relevant documents (like copies of your passport) from anywhere in the world as long as you have access to a reliable internet connection.
Who Needs At ETIAS Visa?
Once visitors have an ETIAS visa waiver, you will be able to visit Europe for up to 90 days for tourism and business purposes. You will only need one ETIAS in order to visit all Schengen countries. You can leave and return with the same ETIAS visa for three years or until your passport expires.
Students who plan to study abroad in Europe for more than 90 days need a student visa from their destination country. Most study abroad programs will provide assistance in obtaining one. Apply for an ETIAS travel authorisation if you’re studying less than 90 days by contacting the consulate of the country you intend to study in.
Why Is ETIAS Coming into Effect for Travel to Europe?
Even though the application is easy and quick to complete,
you may be wondering the point of introducing one more bureaucratic step for
travelers who are now able to visit Europe visa-free.
The ETIAS system and the new technologies used by the
program will benefit Europe and its
foreign visitors in several ways.
ETIAS Will Strengthen Border Security for Europe
Safety and security within the Schengen Zone is the number 1 reason for the existence of ETIAS.
Thanks to the new system, the European authorities will be able to see who’s entering Europe and when, ensuring better control over the borders between Schengen and non-Schengen countries.
The exchange of information between Schengen countries will
give European law enforcement relevant, real-time data that will assist them in
fighting terrorism and international
crime and have better control over
And since foreigners will be required to register with the
program prior to departure, ETIAS will also allow European border control to
respond to increasingly higher tourism volumes appropriately.
ETIAS: There Are Benefits for Foreign Visitors Too
Besides enjoying a safer visit in Europe, there are several
positive results expected of ETIAS for foreign nationals:
- Since it’s an electronic visa waiver linked directly to the holder’s passport, ETIAS is expected to make document checks much quicker at the border. Smart passport gates mean that ETIAS holders won’t need to wait in line with other foreigners at the European passport check desk.
- Unlike visas, ETIAS does not require foreigners to apply for a permit in person at an embassy. With just one online application taking minutes, ETIAS holders will be able to visit all Schengen countries and cross all internal borders without having to see a consulate or travel visa agency once.
- ETIAS will not only provide invaluable data to law enforcement but also give travelers useful information to avoid overstaying their permit. Since everything is managed online, travelers will be able to find out how many days they can still spend in Europe.
How Will ETIAS Affect Traveling to Europe with Your Family?
All eligible travelers will need to apply for ETIAS starting in early 2024. This includes minors and infants — even if they are featured on a guardian’s passport.
Parents can help their children complete an ETIAS application before leaving. At present, the application fee is expected to be 7 Euros. Please note that minors will be exempt from paying the ETIAS application fee.
Susan Noel is a passionate traveler and experienced content writer. She has contributed this blog post on behalf of sponsor, ETIAS. The FTF editorial team updated it in August 2023.
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