Those who would like to travel for business or pleasure throughout the majority of the European Union and to adjacent nations like Norway can typically do so without a visa. The region called the Schengen Area allows travel without the usual border control for citizens of member nations as well as 63 other nations. The system being developed to allow entry to the Schengen Area and to track visitors while in the area is called the European Travel Information and Authorization System or ETIAS.The ETIAS for EU’s visa waiver is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2023. Visitors from non-Schengen Area countries will have the right to travel within the area for up to 90 day for business or tourism but not for work or schooling.
What is the Schengen Zone?
Citizens of countries in the European Union and some neighboring European countries can travel freely to any other country. This was accomplished in 1985 via the Schengen Agreement. In 1985 this agreement was signed by five nations, France, Germany, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, and Belgium. The agreement abolished border controls allowing free travel within the bounds of the five nations. Today all members of the European Union except for Ireland, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Cyprus are part of the Schengen Area as are non-EU nations Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg and Switzerland in Europe. Additionally, the Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Islands are part of the Schengen Area and special members of the EU although located outside of Europe. Although the Vatican, Monaco and San Marino are not part of the agreement they have open borders and are considered de facto members.
Why will there be an ETIAS system?
Largely because of an influx of refugees from fighting in the Middle East but also because of refugees from Africa entering the EU, the European Commission decided that it needed a better sense of who was crossing their borders. The ETIAS system is designed to let the EU know who will be traveling there even before they arrive. Thus European security is the primary reason for the ETIAS system. The system is designed to detect persons who may be a threat to security in any of the Schengen countries. Thus, those persons will be denied entry at the border.
Additionally the purpose the system is to cut down on application lines, reduce the number of required procedures, improve EU nation border management, cut back on illegal immigration, reduce terrorism and crime, and shore up the EU visa liberalization policy.
The bottom line is that the ETIAS system will reduce the fuss and bother related to travel within the Schengen Zone and make travel safer.
How will ETIAS work?
The European Travel Information and Authorization System is totally electronic. Its purpose is to facilitate the EU’s visa waiver and to allow entry and track the travel of visitors who do not require a visa to enter and travel within the Schengen Zone. A good comparison is the way the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) works in the USA. Although the target date to begin operations was January 1, 2022 the system will not be fully operational and required for everyone until the end of 2023.
The ETIAS system will carry out a thorough security check for all applicants to determine if they will be allowed entry to the Schengen area. People from the 63 countries that do not need a visa to travel for 90 days will not have to endure a lengthy process for authorization. Those allowed to enter will be able to travel for tourism, business, medical care, and for transit.
ETIAS application form
The simple ETIAS application form takes about ten minutes to complete online. Required information includes first and last name, last name at birth, date of birth, place of birth, citizenship information, phone number, email address, work experience, education, and the first EU country that one wishes to visit.
Background information requested includes your medical condition, any travel to countries at war, travel to places or nations where you were rejected or deported, and any criminal record.
Legal guardians are obliged to apply for minors and family members of citizens of the EU will need to provide proof of their relationships, requested background information, and any residency cards.
Upon completion of the ETIAS form you will be able to pay the fee and submit the form.
The system will automatically check to see if the information you submitted is correct, determine if you are eligible for entry, and assess your risk factors. The process will take a few minutes for those who pass.
When there is a hit from the ETIAS system your application will require manual processing and that can take anywhere from four days to two weeks.
Travelers who will need ETIAS
The ETIAS system is set up to expedite entry, flag problems, and track travel of citizens of any of the 63 countries that do not require a visa to enter the EU zone. These countries are the following:
|Antigua and Barbuda||Kiribati||Serbia|
|Bahamas||Marshall Islands||Solomon Islands|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Mexico||Taiwan **|
|Canada||Montenegro||Trinidad and Tobago|
|Costa Rica||Nicaragua||United Arab Emirates|
|Dominica||North Macedonia||United Kingdom|
|El Salvador||Palau||United States of America|
|Honduras||Saint Kitts and Nevis|
|Hong Kong S.A.R*||Saint Lucia|
More nations may be added to this system over time but this is the current list of January of 2022.
Cost of ETIAS
The system is not meant to impose a financial burden. It is free for anyone less than 18 years and €7 for all others. Payment can be made via debit card or credit card when the online form is submitted.
ETIAS period of validity
Once a person is approved for entry into the Schengen area that approval is good for three years or until the period specified on the person’s travel document. The ETIAS system will determine which period of validity a person is given. That period of validity is based on the system’s assessment of submitted information and assessed risk.
Denial of an ETIAS application
The ETIAS system may deny entry to the Schengen area for any of a number of reasons. These include one of more of the following:
Applicant poses a high epidemic risk
Applicant poses an illegal immigration risk
Applicant has an existing SIS alert for refusing stay and entry
Applicant does not reply when asked for extra documentation or information
Applicant poses a security risk either for citizens of other travelers in the Schengen area
Applicant is requested to attend an extra interview and does not show up
Applicant’s travel documents were reported stolen, misappropriated, invalidated or lost in SIS, the Schengen Information System
In addition, a person’s authorization to enter and travel within the Schengen area can be denied when the reviewer has reasonable doubts about information and document validity
When a person submits an ETIAS application the system responds immediately (within ten minutes or so). Should an application be denied the system provides the reason.
What if an ETIAS application is denied? Applicants can correct any errors and try again or appeal the decision.
Appeal of ETIAS rejection
When an application is rejected it is the responsibility of the member state that issued the rejection to explain available appeal procedures. Any rejected person has the right to appeal providing that they can provide proof that the decision to reject was a mistake or was unjust.
What documents are required for ETIAS authorization?
A valid passport is the only document that you will need to apply for ETIAS authorization for the EU’s visa waiver. Your passport may need to have a digital photo that is not glued onto the passport. It may also need to be machine-readable with two lines of letters, numbers, and symbols below the passport photo.
A passport with a chip is an advantage but is not required. If your passport has a chip it is on the cover page at the bottom. And, at times applications may be asked for extra documents as well. When this is the case the system will explain what they are. When this is necessary the documents should be submitted to the member state’s ETIAS national unit within ten days of the request for extra documents.
Point of entry with ETIAS authorization
The ETIAS system OKs a person for entry into the Schengen area via the first country listed on their application for visiting. If one’s plan is to start in Norway and travel to Denmark, German, and Switzerland the person needs to enter Norway first as stated. Once the person enters the first country on their list they have 90 days to travel, do business, see a doctor, or whatever their purpose was for visiting the Schengen area.
NOTE regarding ultimate authority to grant entry to a nation
Despite the ETIAS system screening for entry, the ultimate authority to grant entry into any nation lies with the border authorities of that nation. Also, when you have ETIAS authorization within the Schengen area it does not give you the right to enter EU nations that are not part of the Schengen area.