ETIAS, which is short for the E.U. Travel Information Authorisation System, will not come into force until the beginning of 2021. That’s despite the fact that its introduction has already been confirmed by the E.U. Commission. It takes time for these sorts of changes in Europe because approval of major changes to things like border regulations has to come from all member states. Also, because ETIAS will involve an online application process and the information gleaned from it will be shared across all the countries in both the E.U. and Schengen it takes time to develop and install the necessary hardware and infrastructure.
Is Romania now in the E.U. and what about Schengen?
Romania is one of 27 other countries that are in the European Union, but it is not yet in the Schengen block of 26 countries. Partial approval for entry to Schengen was made in April this year (2016), but full entry depends on a unanimous decision by all 26 countries. It is expected that by the time the ETIAS system is up and running in early 2021 Romania will be part of Schengen and that will mean that it will have the same border regulations as the other Schengen countries. ETIAS is designed for Schengen, even though it will affect the E.U. because most of the E.U. is already a party to the Schengen Agreement anyway.
What is worth visiting in Romania?
When Romania first joined the E.U., visitors flocked to it because prices were considerably lower than in other E.U. countries for the same things, especially accommodation and transport. Romania’s main attractions are its Black Sea coast and the seaside resorts scattered along it and its mountainous interior. Most people are familiar with the legend of Dracula and although it is a bit overdone, Transylvania is usually on most visitors’ wish lists, even if it is to see some of the beautiful mountain scenery there and not to experience the empire of Vlad the Impaler.
All over Romania there are monasteries, churches and other religious paraphernalia which remind the visitor that this is one of the most devoutly Christian (Orthodox) countries in Europe. It is wise to remember this in many villages which are very conservative.
There is still quite a lot of wildlife left in Romania’s deep forests including brown bears and wolves. In some places, especially winter time, it is possible to come across bears coming to feed on the outskirts of towns.
Will visitors to Romania need a Romania ETIAS?
It all depends on their nationality. Romania is not in Schengen yet, so it can theoretically establish its own rules about who it lets in to the country and for how long. However, because it is expected that it will be part of the Schengen block sooner than 2021, it will mean that the country will have exactly the same requirements as the other Schengen countries by then. If you come from one of the Schengen “visa waiver” countries and currently do not need a visa to enter Europe, you will need to apply for a Romania ETIAS once the ETIAS system is officially operating. The cost of the ETIAS will be €7. An approved ETIAS will last for 3 years or until the date of passport expiry, whichever comes first.