By December 2022, non-EU visitors to Europe's Schengen member countries will need to apply for ETIAS or a Schengen visa
ETIAS, an acronym for European Travel Information and Authorisation System, is a system that aims to ‘identify security, irregular migration or high epidemic risks posed by visa-exempt visitors travelling to the Schengen States’, according to the European Commission. The idea of ETIAS was first introduced in April 2016 and initially, the EU and Schengen member states had wanted to launch it in 2020, but they have now pushed the operation to the end of 2022.
The concept of ETIAS is similar to the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) imposed by the USA – both systems target visitors who currently don’t need a visa or are under the ‘Visa Waiver Program’.
In other words, ETIAS is only applicable to visitors who currently don’t need a visa to visit any of the Schengen member states. At present, there are 57 countries whose nationals can visit any of the Schengen member states without a visa – you can see the full list under the header ‘Nationals who need to apply for ETIAS’ below.
Please note that ETIAS is not the same as a Schengen visa. For nationals who need to apply for a Schengen visa, they should continue to do so. We will expand on this point later.
Countries that require ETIAS
Countries that require ETIAS are the 26 Schengen member countries and they are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Please note that four of them (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) are not part of the EU but are associate members of the Schengen Area.
Then there are five EU countries which aren’t part of the Schengen Area – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania. It is expected that they will also require visitors to apply for ETIAS in the future.
In addition, there are four countries – Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City – that are not part of the Schengen Area or European Union, but because they are located within an EU country, they have opened their borders to visitors with a Schengen visa. They too, are expected to impose ETIAS in the future.
Nationals who need to apply for ETIAS
Anyone who currently can visit any of the Schengen member countries without a Schengen visa will need to apply for ETIAS when the system is in place, which should be by the end of 2022. At present, nationals of these 57 countries are affected:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Costa Rica
- East Timor (Timor Leste)
- El Salvador
- Marshal Islands
- New Zealand
- North Macedonia
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Solomon Islands
- South Korea
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
In addition, passport holders from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, who currently can visit the Schengen Zone without a visa, will also be required to apply for ETIAS in the future.
* Serbian passports issued by the Serbian Coordination Directorate aren’t included.
What’s required to apply for ETIAS?
Security is the top concern for Schengen member countries and naturally you’ll be required to provide the following when you apply:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Place of birth
- Current address
- Email address
- Your biometric passport and other nationality details
- Apart from basic personal info, you will also need to answer questions related to criminal history, past travel to Europe and security information.
The fee is said to be €7. However, applicants below the age of 18 do not need to pay the fee.
The process is expected to take about 15 minutes for applicants to complete online.
ETIAS validity and fees
Once issued, ETIAS will allow its holder to stay in 26 Schengen countries for a period of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. The authorisation is valid for three (3) years from the date of issue or until the passport expires, whichever comes first.
Is ETIAS the same as a Schengen visa?
No. ETIAS is an authorisation, not a visa. It is different from a Schengen visa.
ETIAS is for non-European visitors (like Americans, Australians, Brazilians, Japanese, Malaysians, Singaporeans, among others) who can currently enter all Schengen countries without a visa. When ETIAS is in place, these visitors will need to apply for ETIAS before travelling.
A Schengen visa is for visitors from a country that requires a visa to visit any of the Schengen member states and the process is not affected by ETIAS.
For more information about a Schengen visa, please follow the link to the article A guide to Schengen visas.
When can you start applying?
The ETIAS online application process isn’t available yet, but we will announce it here when it is ready. Please bookmark this page and check it in the future.
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This article was first published in 2018 and updated on 11 January 2021.