At present, there are three different groups of visitors to Germany. The first group are the citizens of other E.U. nations as well as one or two other nations that have reciprocal arrangements with Germany because they are part of the Schengen Block. These people can freely enter Germany and stay as long as they want. The second group consists of the citizens of some 60 odd countries that have relatively relaxed restrictions on them. They must show their passport on arrival anywhere in Europe and then they can stay for a maximum of 90 days. The third group is everybody else. These people need a visa which has to be obtained in advance before they come to Europe.
The ETIAS system (short for E.U. Travel Information Authorisation System), once it has been officially launched in early 2020, will ensure that everyone in that second group just mentioned will have to get permission (travel authorisation) before arrival. It is hoped that this will improve the flow of information about who is arriving in Europe and will prevent some of the problems that Europe has had up to now. The process will be quite simple. It will be an online application which will take about 10 minutes. A €5 fee will have to be paid and once approved the authorisation will last 5 years.
Germany is part of Schengen
One of the more confusing things about the E.U. is the Schengen Agreement. This is only indirectly related to the E.U. It is an agreement amongst most of the current E.U. governments about common arrangements for movement across national borders. If you are a citizen of one Schengen country like Germany, you can freely move, live and work in any other Schengen country. The Schengen arrangement also affects other non E.U. visitors as well. Your 90 day maximum stay, for instance, is for the whole of the Schengen block. If you spend 30 days in Germany, for instance, you only have 60 days left in the rest of the block, although some Schengen countries do have some individual exceptions to that.
What are the main attractions of Germany?
Germany is one of the most important of the E.U. countries and an economic powerhouse. It has plenty to occupy the average tourist. It has a wide variety of more traditional villages and modern cities. Each city has its own unique identity so there is a lot of value in seeing more than one city to get some flavour of German city life. Don’t forget Germany’s many festivals like Munich’s Beer festival in October (if you like beer, of course!)
Germany also has quite varied countryside. The Rhine Valley is famous for its castles, mild climate, vineyards and cruises up and down the river. The North Coast is flat and windswept for much of the year, but has an interesting number of islands, which is a huge contrast to the Bavarian region, which is more alpine in nature and has Zugspitze, central Europe’s highest peak.
Will I need a German ETIAS visa waiver?
You will only need a German ETIAS visa waiver once the arrangements are finalised and infrastructure in place and you will find that every travel agent and airline will know whether you need one. You can also take the assessment on the homepage to find out if you will need an ETIAS for Germany. The E.U. Commission has just announced that it expects it will be ready for operation by the beginning of 2020. Basically, if you are not an E.U. passport holder and you know that you don’t need a visa for travel to Europe at the moment it is quite likely that you will need a travel authorisation (ETIAS) before you arrive at any European border post or airport once the system is up and running.