The E.U. Travel Information Authorisation System (ETIAS) will affect travel to Greece because Greece is both in the Schengen Group as well as a member of the European Union. At present many non E.U. citizens do not need to get a visa before arrival in Europe. They do need a valid passport and sometimes have to show evidence that they have sufficient funds or a return air ticket.
The maximum that non E.U. visitors can stay in Europe as a whole is 90 days without applying in advance for a special visa. Many E.U. countries think the system so far is too relaxed and want to make it more restrictive. The ETIAS system, once it is up and running (early 2020 according to the E.U. Commission) will require those people who haven’t needed a visa up to now to get permission before they arrive. Once they get the authorisation, or ETIAS, they can travel throughout Europe up to the 90 day maximum.
What is Schengen all about?
The difference between Schengen and the E.U. can be a little confusing. In fact, the chances are that if you ask a European about Schengen they may not really know themselves! Schengen is a separate agreement between many European countries which standardises entry and border regulations. While all Schengen citizens have free movement between the different countries themselves, a visitor must have either a visa or have their passport stamped once they arrive at the first Schengen border post. Nearly all Schengen countries are actually members of the E.U. with one or two exceptions. Not every E.U. country is in Schengen. As has already been mentioned Greece is both in Schengen and the E.U.
Why is Greece such a popular place to visit?
Greece is rightly a very popular place to visit. It’s got a combination of climate, beaches, islands, history, culture, food and music which is hard to beat. Millions of people make a beeline for one or more of the Greek Islands, most of which are either in the idyllic Aegean between the Greek mainland and Turkey or the Ionian. While some people seem to stick to a single island, others hop from one island to another. It would take a long time to describe some of the best islands to visit.
The other main attractions centre on Greece’s Ancient civilisation and the ruins that have been preserved for everyone to see. Athens is deservedly a very popular place to visit with the Parthenon probably the most visited place in the Greek capital.
Will I soon need a Greece ETIAS visa waiver?
Maybe! If you have been to Europe before you will remember whether you had to get a visa in advance. Many citizens of non E.U. member states have never needed a visa but once ETIAS becomes compulsory will need to apply online in advance. The ETIAS system will work like the U.S. ESTA system. You provide some information using an online form at least 72 hours before you arrive in Europe and pay a €5 fee and then you are “authorised” to travel. It’s somewhere between a full blown visa and not having any restrictions at all. It’s expected that if you need an ETIAS and arrive in Italy (for example), you will then be allowed to go anywhere in the Schengen part of Europe for a total of 90 days. That will include Greece, so once you are in Europe there will be no need for a further permission before you cross a border except to be ready to show your passport. The ETIAS authorisation will last 5 years before you will need to apply again which makes it easy if you make multiple trips to Europe.