Once ETIAS becomes official it will be compulsory for anyone who is a citizen of so called “visa waiver” countries. These are the 60 odd countries around the world whose citizens can currently visit most of Europe without being checked or vetted through a visa application. That means that if you are an American, for instance, you don’t need a visa at present to visit Poland or any other E.U. or Schengen country, but you will need to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver after the beginning of 2020.
Even if you drive across the border in your own car or turn up on a ferry, you will need to apply in advance (at least 72 hours) for your ETIAS approval and pay the €5 fee. The good news is that once you have made the application and been approved for travel, you don’t have to reapply for another 5 years.
Is Poland in Schengen and what does that mean?
Poland is both in Schengen as well as in the E.U. The two groups of countries are almost the same in composition but the Schengen Agreement is just to regulate border entries, while the E.U. is about many other things which concern Europeans like trade, customs and the environment. Poles can go to any other Schengen country to travel, live or work. They can also go to any non Schengen E.U. country too, like Britain, Bulgaria, Ireland and Cyprus.
There are many people around the world who need what is called a “Schengen visa” before they travel to any of the Schengen block. Once their passport has been stamped or checked in the first Schengen border control, they can go to any other Schengen country as long as their visit is no more than 90 days in total. The Poland ETIAS will not change this visa requirement as it is designed to be used by the nationals of the visa waiver countries like the U.S., Japan or Australia.
Does anyone visit Poland for pleasure?
The number of tourists visiting Poland rose sharply after the country joined the European Union. Tourists’ are lured by Poland’s old city centres, such as those in Warsaw, Krakow and Poznan. Poland has suffered two major eras in the last century, first from the anguish of the Second World War and the gas chambers of Auschwitz, secondly during the Soviet era, but the Polish have since recovered and prospered.
Poland is not just about the cities. There is plenty of countrysides as well, with any one of Poland’s 23 national parks worth visiting. Bialowieza National Park is Europe’s largest intact forests with one of the last remaining wild bison populations in Europe roaming around in it. Tatra National Park protects part of Poland’s Tatra Mountains and contains Poland’s highest mountain, Rysy. Other national parks and wild areas have great hiking, waterfalls, lakes and coastal dunes.
Who exactly will need to apply for a Poland ETIAS?
Remember that ETIAS is not yet operational. It is expected to be in force only from early 2020. This is because there is a lot of infrastructure which has to be installed in all 26 Schengen countries, especially at all border posts. Some of the newer Schengen countries that joined recently do not have as sophisticated border and immigration processes and infrastructure as their wealthier fellow members like Belgium, France and Germany.
Once ETIAS is deployed, the only people affected are the non E.U. or Schengen passport holders who are from visa waiver countries. That means that if you don’t need a visa at the moment and can visit Europe, but don’t have a European passport, then you will need to apply for an ETIAS authorisation once it is launched to visit Poland.