The E.U. Commission in Brussels has devised a visa waiver system to be launched at the beginning of 2020. The visa waiver, called ETIAS, will cost €7 per applicant yet will be free for individuals under the age of 18. If you are one of the people who will need to apply for an ETIAS after it is launched, you will need to fill in the ETIAS form online at least 96 hours before travel to any Schengen country, even if you arrive at a European Member country in a bus or your own car. E.U. officials say that the online form will be easy to complete and once approval has been given will last 3 years before another application will need to be submitted. If you fly into Norway first and you have ETIAS approval you can visit any other Schengen country after Norway for a total visit lasting under 90 days combined all your European travels.
Norway is not in the E.U. so why is there a Norway ETIAS?
Good question. Even though it seems to be a decision being made by the E.U. in fact the ETIAS application applies to entry to the Schengen Group of countries, although most of these are in the E.U. anyway. Norway is a member of the “European Free Trade Association (EFTA) on Schengen Agreement” so the ETIAS visa waiver system will apply to entry into Norway, but the country is not a full E.U. member so it has its own customs checks. All E.U. member nations are in the same customs union even if they are not in the Schengen area. Still confused? The key thing is that you have plenty of time to work out what you need to do if you are thinking of visiting Europe in the near future and there will be plenty of advice available to help you if you get confused.
Norway’s Fjords are world famous but what else is there to see?
Norway reaches right up into the Arctic Circle and its spectacular fjords are situated on the west (North Sea) coast. Most visitors to Norway arrange to take a cruise on at least one of the fjords although there are plenty of other attractions in the country.
Like their other Scandinavian neighbours, Norwegians love the outdoors and spend a lot of time hiking, cycling, skiing, sailing and tobogganing. The preferred activity will depend on the season. A lot of Norwegians avoid expensive accommodation options and go camping. Camping is free, even on private land, for one night anyway!
The main attractions, apart from the fjords, include a trip to the Arctic Circle to witness the midnight sun and the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). Norway is reputed to be the best place to see this remarkable natural sight. The North is also where you might see reindeer (domesticated), walruses and polar bears. There are specially organised trips to see Arctic wildlife in Norway’s Arctic region.
Who will need to apply For a Norway ETIAS?
If you hold a Schengen or E.U. passport you won’t be affected by ETIAS unless you are British. Britain is not in Schengen, but it is in the E.U. – just! By the time ETIAS commences in 2020, it is likely that Britain will no longer be in the E.U. If Brexit negotiations put Britain into the visa waiver group of some 60 other countries, British travellers to any of the Schengen countries, including Norway will have to pay the fee and apply for ETIAS authorisation even if they are just popping over to France for a few hours! This sounds a nuisance, but it will not be that bad as once the ETIAS application has been approved, it will last 3 years.
Just to confirm who will need a Norway ETIAS, it will be all those non E.U. people who do not need to get a visa at the moment. If you know you have to apply for a Schengen visa right now, this arrangement won’t change after ETIAS comes into force.