There has been quite a lot of news this year about the E.U.’s new travel rules for the many non E.U. passport holders. The E.U. Commission has just confirmed details about what is called the European Travel Information Authorisation System (ETIAS) which is modelled on the U.S. and Canadian visa waiver systems in place already. The ETIAS arrangement will mean that intending visitors to Europe will have to fill in an online application before they arrive, allowing at least 96 hours for application processing. The application will also cost €7 for people over the age of 18, and when approved, will allow the visitor to visit any Schengen country or up to 90 days. Each traveller will need to complete an online application and once approved, the ETIAS will last 3 years, or until the date of passport expiry. ETIAS will officially launch in early 2024.
Is the ETIAS just for the E.U. Countries? What about Schengen?
Malta is both in Schengen and the E.U., like most Schengen countries. There is a lot of overlap between rules for both groups. Basically, the main difference is that the Schengen Agreement only concerns border arrangements like the ETIAS system. The E.U. is much more than just immigration rules.
It is most likely that if you are a non European and you want to visit any Schengen country you will need to apply using the ETIAS. That means just about every E.U. country anyway, including Malta. It seems unlikely that ETIAS will be used for non Schengen E.U. countries like Ireland.
What is Malta like for visitors?
Many people do visit Malta as it is has a lot going for it as a destination. It sits in the middle of the Mediterranean, South of the Italian island of Sicily and has had a long and interesting history as it sits squarely across the old trading routes. It has a typical Mediterranean climate, hot and dry in summer, cool and wet in winter.
Valetta is the capital on Malta’s largest island of the same name. It has a huge harbour and the city has plenty to see in terms of historic buildings as well as having a modern shopping centre. The ancient Maltese capital is Mdina, which lies on a hill top in the middle of the island. It is also called the “Silent City,” although this term best describes it when the tourist crowds disperse at the end of the day! The city is best known for its fantastic mediaeval architecture.
Malta consists of three inhabited islands with Gozo and Kemmuna smaller and more rural than the main island, but still worth visiting for the combination of history, rural tranquillity and coastal vistas.
Will I need an ETIAS if I go to Malta?
That depends on your nationality. If you fly directly into Malta and do not have a passport issued by an E.U. or Schengen country you may either need an ETIAS authorisation (from 2024) or a full Schengen visa. There are 60 countries at present whose citizens do not need a visa to enter Malta (or anywhere else in Schengen). This will change when ETIAS is officially introduced. If you are one of these groups you can check the online assessment to see if you will need a Schengen visa or likely need an ETIAS. It is important to note for those possibly needing an ETIAS, you don’t need to do anything until 2024. If you are a citizen of any other non E.U. country you already need to apply for a visa before arriving at any Schengen country and this is unlikely to change when ETIAS is launched.