If you have been watching the news recently, you may have read or heard that the European Union Commission has just announced progress on what it hopes will help to tackle a growing feeling of insecurity in Europe. This is the ETIAS, or E.U. Travel Information Authorisation System, which is now expected to begin operating in early 2020, so quite a way off yet. It’s a European visa waiver that will travellers to apply online for permission to travel to Europe. It will cost a small amount (€5) for people over the age of 18 and once it has been approved it will last 5 years. It won’t affect everyone. It certainly won’t change E.U. citizens’ freedom to visit each other’s countries, but it will affect the many non E.U. nationals who haven’t needed any sort of permission or visa up to now.
Lithuania is part of Schengen. how does that affect the ETIAS?
That’s quite right. Lithuania is a member of the Schengen zone as well as being a full member of the E.U. It won’t affect the requirement to get an ETIAS approval before going to Lithuania if that’s where you are headed. In fact, the ETIAS system will embrace all 26 Schengen countries. Schengen was actually formed so that the majority of the countries that are in the E.U. could have a common border arrangement. If you do go to Europe after the requirement for ETIAS kicks off, you will find that your authorisation is not just for a single country but will be valid right across the Schengen zone. The details haven’t quite been worked out in full yet, because there may be some further discussion about how ETIAS applies to places like Ireland, which is determined to stay in the E.U. (unlike Britain), but is not in Schengen.
What is Lithuania like to visit?
Lithuania, like its Baltic neighbours of Latvia and Estonia is under visited, although that situation is gradually changing as many Europeans in particular are always looking for somewhere different to visit. It hasn’t yet caught on by non European visitors.
Visitors to Lithuania will find similar, but not exactly the same sorts of attractions as its neighbours along the Baltic Sea. Lithuania tends to be quite flat, but it does have a lot of forest and much of it has been protected as national park. It also has the sandy beaches along the Baltic which make the country’s coast an attractive proposition in summer.
Last, but not least, is Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius. It is a very pleasant city with much evidence of Lithuania’s proud and brave attempt to retain its independence through the years.
Will I need a Lithuania ETIAS visa waiver?
Not yet, because the E.U. is still finalising the details and it is not expected now to start until the beginning of 2020. Whether you will need to make an online application yourself in the years to come depends on your nationality. If you are an E.U. passport holder or a national of a Schengen country, you certainly won’t be affected. But if you are a national of one of around 60 different countries that haven’t had to bother with visas up to now, then you will probably have to go though the ETIAS process after it is officially launched. If you have had to apply for a visa up to now, then this won’t change. Find out if you may need an ETIAS.