Once the old Czechoslovakia divided into two, both newly created countries (the Czech Republic and Slovakia) joined the E.U. That means that they will use the same system as the rest of Europe when the ETIAS travel authorisation system comes into force in a few years’ time. Slovakia hasn’t yet had the same severity of terrorist attacks as some of the other countries in Europe, but has been affected by the unprecedented numbers of migrants and refugees arriving further south and east. These changes are the main reasons why ETIAS is being introduced. It is expected that the information obtained when applications are filled and submitted online in the future will be shared with all other Schengen stakeholders so that visitors can be monitored amongst the block.
What is Slovakia’s relationship with the Schengen Block?
Not long after Slovakia joined the E.U. it applied and was granted membership of the Schengen Block of 26 countries. What exactly Schengen is all about causes quite a lot of confusion for many non Europeans and, in fact, even many Europeans are unsure what the Schengen Agreement is all about. The 26 Schengen countries, including Slovakia, have agreed to allow each other’s nationals freedom to travel, live and work in any of the member countries.
The block also has uniform immigration rules which permit who is allowed in, how they are monitored and how long they can stay. Not every E.U. country is in Schengen. Romania and Bulgaria, for instance, are currently not in the Schengen zone although both probably soon will be. Also, not every Schengen country is in the E.U. Examples of such countries are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Why visit Slovakia?
Slovakia is emerging as a popular tourist destination, surrounded by Austria, Hungary, Poland, the Ukraine and the Czech Republic. It is reputed to have more than its fair share of castles and chateaus, more than any other country in Europe, although some on the list are scarcely recognisable being piles of stones in the deep Slovakian forest.
Most visitors spend time in Slovakia’s lively capital, Bratislava, which like many European capitals has an old centre with well preserved buildings.
Slovakia has a large mountainous interior, the Carpathian Mountains and locals and visitors alike enjoy hiking on the many trails that criss-cross this region. There are 9 national parks with caving being a specialty in the limestone region of the High Tatra.
Will I need a Slovakian ETIAS?
You don’t need one yet because ETIAS has not yet come into effect as a requirement for travellers. It is expected that ETIAS may be introduced officially in early 2020. You will only be affected by ETIAS if you are a citizen of a visa waiver country. These countries included Canada, the U.S., Australia and Japan, together with nearly 60 others. Of course, if you are already an E.U. or Schengen passport holder your freedom to travel across Europe will not be affected. The cost of applying for ETIAS will be €7. Approved authorizations will be issued for 3 years, or until passport expiry, whichever comes first.