From January 2021, non-EU visitors to Europe Schengen member countries will need an ETIAS or a Schengen visa, here’s what you need to know about ETIAS
* As of 23 July 2018, the European Commission changed the implementation date of ETIAS from January 2020 to January 2021.
Europe is one of the world’s most enrapturing travel destinations. For travellers outside Europe, travelling to the European Union Schengen Zone is a bucket-list experience; it’s a chance to savour extraordinary cultures and rich histories of many diverse yet connected countries. Soon, how you travel to Europe will change. From January 2021, you will need an ETIAS or a Schengen visa.
What is an ETIAS Visa Waiver?
The ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) visa waiver is a new travel authorisation program that will allow travellers from a visa waiver country to visit Europe – specifically EU Schengen member countries – for up to 90 days.
It targets visitors who currently don’t need a visa to visit Europe.
Here’s an example – at present, an American and a Singaporean can fly into London, take a train to Paris, drive to Germany and cycle to Poland, all without needing a visa. From January 2021, the same visitors will need to apply for ETIAS electronically before travelling if they want to visit France, Germany or Poland because these are EU member countries.
Think of ETIAS like the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) that you need to enter the United States if you are from a country listed in the American Visa Waiver Program.
The objective of ETIAS is to improve Europe’s security. The process of obtaining your ETIAS travel authorisation to Europe is quick and easy. You can apply online and the process takes less than 15 minutes. The fee is only €7 for applicants above the age of 18. It’s completely free for applicants below the age of 18.
Who needs to apply for ETIAS?
At present, citizens from 58 countries (see table below) can visit the 26 Schengen member countries without a visa. This will change in January 2021 – citizens from these 58 countries will need to apply for ETIAS before travelling to any Schengen member country. It is also possible that ETIAS may expand to include more European countries.
The 26 Schengen member countries 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.
Apart from these 26 countries, there are 3 countries (Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City) who are not part of the Schengen Zone or European Union but have opened their borders to visitors with a Schengen visa, and ETIAS in the future.
From January 2021, nationals from the following countries will be required to apply for ETIAS before travelling.
What about the UK?
The United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union. As of December 2018, we believe the UK will not participate in the European ETIAS program, and it’s possible that the UK will impose its own system much like the one used by the United States. We encourage you to bookmark this page and check back from time to time, as we will post the latest information here.
(UK citizens travelling to Europe Schengen member countries may need to apply for ETIAS when the program starts in 2020.)
ETIAS validity and fees
Because ETIAS is a multi-entry authorisation, you will be granted access to the Schengen member countries for a period of up to three years. Once your ETIAS visa waiver has expired, however, you will be required to apply for another ETIAS authorisation in order to travel to Europe again.
The ETIAS application is a simple and easy process and will take less than 15 minutes for the applicant to complete online. The fee is €7, but it is free to applicants below the age of 18.
What’s required to apply for ETIAS?
The objective of ETIAS is security, naturally you will 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 €7 fee is payable with debit or credit card.
- Applicants below the age of 18 do not need to pay the fee.
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 many European countries without a visa. From January 2021, 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 Europe and the process is not affected by ETIAS. See the list of countries that require a Schengen visa below.
As of June 2018, citizens of the following countries need to apply for a Schengen visa:
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- Côte d’Ivoire
- Dem. Rep. Of Congo
- Dominican Republic
- Equatorial Guinea
- Northern Mariana’s
- Papua New Guinea
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Saudi Arabia
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
Does ETIAS replace a Schengen visa?
No. The ETIAS does not replace a Schengen visa.
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.
This website ETIAS VISA (www.etiasvisa.com) has a wealth of information available.