Visiting the EU will be different from 2022. Due to a change in entry regulations, visitors from visa-exempt countries will need an ETIAS visa waiver to enter the 26-country Schengen Area.
But what is ETIAS and why is it now necessary? Also, how can passengers register and get ready to travel once it launches? This article explains everything tourists need to know before arriving in the EU in 2022.
What is ETIAS?
ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System. It is a brand new security measure being implemented at the borders of all 26 EU Schengen countries.
When it launches in 2022 and becomes mandatory in 2023, all visa-exempt nationals visiting the Schengen Area will need a visa waiver to enter the bloc. However, getting an ETIAS visa waiver is to be a short, simple, and online process.
For example, UK travelers will not need to visit the Spanish embassy in the UK to get a visa waiver to go to Spain. Instead, they will need to fill in an online form when they visit an EU Schengen nation to get a digital visa waiver connected to their passport.
Why Is ETIAS Being Introduced?
ETIAS was first proposed in 2016 to strengthen the security, immigration protection, and efficiency of travel within the Schengen Area. It was subsequently approved and is currently in development.
The new system will make travel much safer for tourists and residents of the Schengen countries by pre-screening passengers before they enter the EU’s borders. By doing this, it ensures that border authorities can prevent people who represent a risk from entering the region.
Who Needs an ETIAS Visa Waiver?
Anyone traveling from a country that is allowed to travel to the EU without a visa may apply for an ETIAS visa waiver. This includes nationals from the following countries:
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- United Arab Emirates
- The United Kingdom
- The United States
In total, citizens of 60 countries across the world will be able to apply for a visa waiver to visit the EU. This will allow them to spend 90 days out of any 180 day period in any of the 26 Schengen countries.
It will be necessary to hold an ETIAS visa waiver for the following travel purposes:
- Tourism and leisure activities
- Business travel
- Short term study courses
The visa waiver cannot be used for long-term residence or work purposes. If you are planning to work, live or study long-term in the EU, you will need an appropriate Schengen visa from the country that you will be residing in.
How to Apply for ETIAS
Filling in an online application for ETIAS will take minutes to complete and can be approved in a few hours. However, you’re recommended to apply at least 72 hours in advance of your departure in case errors are submitted in the form or the EU requires further information from you.
When you complete an application for an ETIAS visa waiver, you will need to provide the following details:
- Your name and date of birth
- Data from your passport (with a least 6 months validity remaining)
- Your current address
- An active email address
- The EU Schengen country you will arrive in
- Answers to background and security questions
All the information you provide must be accurate and truthful or your application could be delayed or rejected. However, in most cases, you will receive a reply in 24 – 72 hours either approving or denying your visa waiver.
This confirmation will be sent directly to the email address that you registered during the application process. You can print off your approval or save a digital copy as evidence for when you arrive in the EU.
As your passport is electronically linked with your authorization, you should be able to enter the EU without any more than your passport book. However, it is still a good idea to have a copy of your approval to hand when entering the Schengen zone in case extra proof is needed.
How Long Does an ETIAS Visa Waiver Last?
From its date of issue, an ETIAS visa waiver lasts for 3 years. It can be used for as many trips as you want as long as you keep to the 90-day time frame allowed within every 6 month period.
If however, you have to replace your passport for any reason you’ll need to replace your ETIAS too. This is because the authorization is linked to the precise passport used to register for the visa waiver.
It is also important to make sure you enter Europe with the same passport used to apply for ETIAS if you are a dual citizen with multiple passports. Entering with a different travel document could cause you to be prevented from entering the Schengen Area.
To enter the EU from 2022, you must have a valid ETIAS application in place. However, getting ready to travel under the new system is a seamless process and can be completed quickly for tourism and business purposes.