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Travelling into the Schengen area: what is an Etias

January 10, 2023

ETIAS – European Travel Information and Authorisation System

There are many countries that are not in the European Union (EU) whose citizens can enter the EU Schengen Zone without needing a visa. Specifically, there are currently 63 countries that are not in the EU but are visa-free.

Citizens of these countries are allowed to go into countries in the Schengen Zone for business or travel purposes for up to 90 days. During these 90 days, these visitors cannot work or study but can engage in business and tourism activities.

In addition, recent security concerns with terrorism and the migrant crisis have called for better management of who is entering EU borders. The EU has continuously declared its goal of making travelling within its borders a more secure experience.

To reduce procedures and wait times and address security concerns, the European Commission (EC) has come up with a solution – ETIAS.

This article will contain all the information you need regarding this new system and whether you qualify for it.

From when will the ETIAS be required?

The current launch date for ETIAS is expected to be in November 2023. More information on the implementation process will be posted here when it is available.

What is ETIAS?

ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System. It is a completely electronic system that allows and keeps track of visitors from countries who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Zone. In a way, it resembles the U.S. Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which serves a similar purpose.

Also, there should be no confusion that there are countries in the EU that are not members of the Schengen Zone, which the ETIAS authorization doesn’t prevent you from entering.

The legal procedures to pass the ETIAS started in 2016, and the system is expected to be fully operational in November 2023.

The ETIAS will undergo a detailed security check of each applicant to determine whether they can be allowed to enter any Schengen Zone country. While citizens of countries who do not need a visa for travel purposes of up to 90 days in the EU do not need to go through a long process of applying for the visa, the ETIAS will make sure that these people are not a security threat. This travel authorization system will gather, keep track of, and update necessary information regarding visitors to determine whether it is safe for them to enter Schengen countries.

The ETIAS, besides being used for business and tourist purposes, will also allow people to visit the Schengen countries for medical and transit reasons. In addition, it will be mandatory for all countries that are Schengen visa-free.

Why ETIAS Authorisation?

In his 2016 State of the Union Address, President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said the following:

We need to know who is crossing our borders. This way we will know who is travelling to Europe before they even get here.

The main reason for the approval of the ETIAS authorization is security. With the increased risk of travellers worldwide, the EU wants to ensure safe travel in its countries. The ETIAS will decrease security concerns substantially through its information and data-gathering systems. This means that the ETIAS will detect if a person is a threat in any way to the security of Schengen countries. This will lead to the person being denied entry and avoiding the threat of being present inside EU borders. It will basically deal with a problem before it is even there.

However, besides making travelling more secure, the ETIAS authorization will also assist the EU countries and all travellers in the following ways:

  • Reduce procedures and application times
  • Improve the management of EU country borders
  • Assist in detecting and decreasing crime and terrorism
  • Impede irregular migration
  • Reinforce the visa liberalization policy of the EU

All in all, the ETIAS authorization will make travelling to the EU less of a hassle and a much safer experience.

THE TRAVEL AUTHORISATION SYSTEM WILL:

How will electronic travel authorization system work

European Countries That Will Require ETIAS:

These are the European countries that will require a valid ETIAS upon arrival at their borders:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Who Will Need ETIAS?

As mentioned, the ETIAS targets citizens of countries who can enter the EU zone visa-free. As such, there are 63 countries will need to get ETIAS authorization.

>> List of Countries Required to Apply for ETIAS

How Will the ETIAS System Work?

The ETIAS system will be simple to use and save time for applicants and processing.

How will ETIAS system work?

Those who want to get approval will have to follow these steps to apply for ETIAS:

Filling out the application form

The ETIAS application is expected to take about 10 minutes to fill out. It will be online, so you will not have to go through paperwork. Depending on your country of citizenship, it will present you with several fields to fill. You must give the following information:

  • Biometric information such as:
  • First name
  • Last name
  • Last name at birth
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Information regarding your citizenship
  • Address
  • Email and phone number
  • Education and work experience
  • First EU country you intend to visit
  • Background and eligibility questions will inquire about your medical condition, travel to war countries or places where you were deported or rejected, as well as criminal records
  • For minors, the legal guardian must apply for ETIAS
  • For family members of EU citizens from other countries, you must submit proof of relationship, residence card, and other background information

Submitting the application

When you complete the application, you must pay and submit the fee. The system will do the following:

  • Check if the information you gave was correct
  • Check your eligibility
  • Check your risk factors

You will be approved if what you filled out on the application form is correct and you are eligible and not risky for the ETIAS. This whole procedure is expected to be completed in only a few minutes.

However, the application will be manually processed if there is a hit from the ETIAS. The manual processing is expected to take about 96 hours (4 days), or a maximum of 2 weeks.

How Much Will ETIAS Cost?

The ETIAS will not burden your finances a lot. It is planned to have the ETIAS cost only €7 for each application. This is only valid for adults over 18 years old, as those under 18 will not have to pay any fees. You can pay the fee by debit or credit card. Immediately after you complete the payment, the ETIAS authorization will start processing.

FAQ About ETIAS

Below you will find answers to commonly asked questions regarding ETIAS authorization.

How long is the ETIAS valid?

If approved, the ETIAS might be valid for 3 years or until the end of the validity of the travel document registered during the application, whichever comes first. Whether you will get the first period of validity or the second depends on the system’s evaluation of your information and risk.

Can my ETIAS application be denied?

Yes, any ETIAS application can be denied if there is anything wrong with it.

A travel authorisation can also be rejected in cases where there are reasonable and serious doubts about the authenticity of the information given and the supporting documents submitted by the person applying.

>> Main Reasons Why ETIAS Applications May Be Rejected – and How to Appeal a Negative Decision

What documents do I need for the ETIAS authorization?

The only document you will need to apply for the ETIAS is your valid passport. Your passport might be required to have this information:

  • Your digital photograph which is not glued to the passport
  • A machine-readable passport – which is found below your passport picture and has two lines of numbers, letters, and symbols
  • Electronic passport chip – which is not necessarily mandatory but would be an advantage. This chip can be found on the cover page of your passport at the bottom.

Upon submitting an ETIAS application, some travellers may be asked to submit additional documents.

Who will need to submit extra documents for ETIAS?

Upon the submission of an ETIAS application, some applicants might be asked to submit extra documents, as the ETIAS National Unit of the Member State responsible may deem the information provided by the applicant insufficient.

The applicant will receive the list of the additional documents he/she has to send through an e-mail.
The additional documents should be provided directly to the ETIAS National Unit of the Member State responsible through the secure account service within ten days of the date of receipt of the request.

Can I enter any EU country with ETIAS authorization?

To use the ETIAS authorization correctly, you must first pass through the first country you stated in your application. If you were planning to go through Germany, Belgium, and Austria, and you stated in your application that the first country you will visit is Germany, you must go through it before you visit Belgium and Austria. After you enter your first country, you can visit any other country in the Schengen Zone for 90 days.

However, just because you have the ETIAS does not necessarily guarantee you entry into the EU countries. This is at the discretion of the border authorities.

There are countries in the EU, which are not in the Schengen Zone, and you cannot enter them with ETIAS authorization.

How does ETIAS check my information?

ETIAS will be connected to many databases which can verify your information within minutes. That is why it’s important for all applicants to give honest responses and not try giving false information. If you are caught giving fraudulent information to the ETIAS system, you will be denied authorization. In addition, if your ETIAS is approved, but you are later found with incorrect or false information, your ETIAS will be revoked.

How long does it take to complete the ETIAS application?

As stated, the ETIAS application is expected to only take about 10 minutes to fill. After 10 minutes, you will receive a notification that your session has timed out and you might be asked to start from the beginning. To avoid this, try to go through the application carefully and save your information.

Do I need to attend an interview for ETIAS?

As a rule, an interview is not required for obtaining an ETIAS. Yet, very few applicants may have to attend in-person interviews in order for their ETIAS application to be fully processed. This will happen when there are doubts regarding the information or documentation provided by the applicant.

The ETIAS National Unit of the Member State responsible might invite the applicant for an interview.

The applicant should be notified of the interview through the e-mail service, within 72 hours of his/her submission of additional information or documents. The interview shall take place within ten days of the date of the invitation. In cases when the applicant fails to attend the interview, the application shall be refused.

What if I am not eligible for the ETIAS?

All citizens of countries in the table above (countries which can enter the EU without visas) are eligible to apply for the ETIAS. If you are not eligible for this travel authorization, it means that you are not a citizen of those countries. This means that you must obtain a Schengen Visa to enter the EU countries.

Do I need ETIAS if I have a Schengen Visa?

No, if you have a Schengen Visa, then you will not need an ETIAS authorization. You can present your visa to the border authorities when you enter the Schengen Zone countries. When your visa expires, you can apply for the ETIAS if you are eligible.

Will British citizens be required to have ETIAS authorization?

All UK nationals must apply for ETIAS travel authorization by November 2023, when the scheme becomes fully operational.

UK residents who are passport holders of one of the countries with which the EU has a visa regime in place are not eligible to apply for an ETIAS despite their residency in Britain. They will instead have to apply for a regular Schengen visa.

How many times can I enter the EU with an ETIAS?

You can enter the Schengen member states as many times as you want, for as long as your ETIAS is valid, and you have not stayed more than 90 days in a 180-day period.

Are ESTA and ETIAS the same? What are their differences?

ESTA is the US equivalent of the EU ETIAS. While ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization, ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization.

You will not be able to enter the US with an ETIAS, just the same as an ESTA holder is not permitted to enter the EU without having an ETIAS or Schengen Visa. US citizens, which are permitted to enter Europe visa-free, starting from November 2023, will have to obtain an ETIAS prior to their trip to the Schengen Zone.

Is ETIAS a Visa?

No. The ETIAS authorisation is not a visa.

Nationals of visa liberalisation countries will continue to travel to the EU without a visa but will simply be required to obtain a travel authorisation via ETIAS prior to their travel.

ETIAS will be a simple, fast and visitor-friendly system, which will, in more than 95% of cases, result in a positive answer within a few minutes.

An ETIAS travel authorisation does not reintroduce visa-like obligations. There is no need to go to a consulate to make an application, no biometric data is collected, and significantly less information is gathered than during a visa application procedure. Whereas, as a general rule, a Schengen visa procedure can take up to 15 days and sometimes be extended up to 30 or 60 days, the online ETIAS application only takes a few minutes to fill in. The validity will be for a period of three years, significantly longer than the validity of a Schengen visa. An ETIAS authorisation will be valid for an unlimited number of entries.

Do I also need an ETIAS if I have a Schengen Visa?

If you have a Schengen Visa, that means you are not part of the list of visa-exempt countries.  Therefore, you will not need ETIAS authorization. You can present your visa to the border authorities when you enter the Schengen Zone countries. When your visa expires, you can apply for the ETIAS if you are eligible.

Do I need an ETIAS visa if I already have a long-term visa from one of the Member States?

Since a long-term visa issued by one of the member states gives you the right to move throughout the whole Schengen, you will not need to obtain a travel authorization for as long as you have the visa.

Do infants and children need ETIAS?

Every traveller, even infants and elders, will need to present a travel authorization upon their arrival in Schengen to be permitted to enter. However, people under the age of 18 are exempt from paying the fee.

Can a travel authorization be revoked?

Yes, a travel authorization can be revoked or annulled if the conditions for issuing the travel authorization no longer apply or if the travel authorization holder is found to have violated any of the ETIAS rules.

What is the ETIAS watchlist?

This list consists of data on people suspected of having committed or been part of a criminal offence (such as terrorism). The ETIAS watchlist will be established based on the Member States and Europol information.

When will ETIAS be implemented?

ETIAS is expected to be operational in November 2023.

Latest updates about ETIAS

* Special administrative regions of the People’s Republic of China
** Entities and Territorial Authorities that are not recognised as states by at least one Member State

Infographics: © European Commission