The E.U. Travel Information Authorisation System (ETIAS) should be ready for use by the beginning of 2020. That’s a few years away from now so it’s not going to affect you if you want to have a holiday in Portugal in the next few months or next summer. ETIAS is being introduced to improve security in Europe which has suffered numerous terror attacks over the last few years. Up to now, many non E.U. passport holders have been able to come to Europe without a visa. All they need to do is to turn up at the airport or cross a land border and show their passport. That will change with ETIAS as these visitors will have to apply online at least 96 hours before travel to enter the Schengen area. The authorisation is not quite like a visa and is more like the American ESTA, which is a visa waiver. It should be relatively simple and will only cost €7 and will be free for under 18s. An approved ETIAS will be valid for a period of 3 years or until the date of passport expiry, whichever date comes first.
Is Portugal in Schengen or the E.U.? What’s the difference?
Portugal is in both the Schengen area and the E.U. The two groups overlap with most European countries members of both. The Schengen Agreement regulates immigration and border regulations while the E.U. covers much more, including trade, customs and environmental regulations. The Schengen rules allow freedom of movement for Schengen nationals within the zone and are also uniform for non Schengen and non E.U. passport holders. That means that if you apply for a Schengen visa it will be valid for 90 days in all Schengen countries.
Not all non E.U. nationals need Schengen visas. Around 60 countries, including places such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, the U.S., Canada, Mexico and many Caribbean island states, are on a list whose citizens do not require a visa. It is the nationals of these countries that will have to apply for an ETIAS when it comes into force.
Why visit Portugal?
There are many reasons why Portugal remains such a popular place to visit. Its appeal is that it is a year round destination. Many people choose to spend their winter on the Portuguese Algarve coast where it is considerably warmer and milder than many places in Northern Europe. It is even warmer in summer when the miles of golden beaches and seaside attractions are often crowded.
Because of the North South orientation of Portugal it has quite a diverse climate and landscape. Green mountains in the North, covered with vineyards through rocky mountains in the centre to the desert like Alentejo region right through to the mild South.
You can also visit the Portuguese islands of Madeira and the Azores, which are out in the Atlantic Ocean
Do I need a Portugal ETIAS?
Not if you are a national of an E.U. or Schengen country as you can go to Portugal for as long as you want. If you are not a national of any of the countries just mentioned, you should check to see which list you are on for entry to the Schengen zone. There are two lists of countries. One list is of all the countries whose citizens do not need a visa in advance for a maximum stay of 90 days in the whole of Schengen. These are the people who will need to apply for ETIAS authorisation in the future. The other list is of the rest of the world whose citizens do need to apply for a Schengen visa in advance. These people will not be affected by the Portugal ETIAS introduction.