Below you will find a list of common questions and answers regarding the ETIAS program. Please feel free to contact us should you not be able to find information you require in this ETIAS FAQ.
General Questions About the ETIAS Program
ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorisation System and is based on a similar visa waiver system used by the United States called the ESTA. The ETIAS was originally proposed in 2016, and the development of the system was sped up because of terrorist attacks in France and Belgium and the need for improved security measures for entering the region. The purpose of the system is to gather information on travellers who currently are travelling visa-free to the European Union and ensure individuals posing security concerns are identified before they are permitted travel to Schengen countries. The main goal for the E.U. is to improve the external and internal security of E.U. citizens by having a centralised system to issue travel authorisations to E.U. visitors and monitor their travels within the Schengen zone.
One of the more confusing aspects of travel to Europe for anyone from outside that continent is working out what the difference is between the European Union (E.U.) and the Schengen zone. The E.U. consists of 27 member nation states within Europe, a number that has grown over the years as one nation after another has first applied for, then been granted membership. Nearly all E.U. states are also part of the Schengen zone. However, not every E.U. country is in Schengen and even more confusing, since not every Schengen country is in the E.U.
The 26 member Schengen zone was set up to allow free movement of people within the zone across national borders, but it has a common set of rules about who is allowed to visit, work, live and study within the zone and how long they can stay.
The ETIAS is a new form of travel authorisation intended for short-term tourist or business visitors of Europe who are currently exempt from needing a visa. These visitors are from countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand as well as dozens of other countries.
The U.S. visa waiver system, like the proposed European model, was introduced after terrorist attacks within the borders of the United States, specifically after the attacks on the Twin Towers in September 2001. The fact that so many people these days are comfortable with the Internet also makes online immigration applications much easier. The U.S. ESTA is only used for people who come from selected countries which are deemed ‘lower risk’. This means that if you are a national of Holland or Japan, for instance, you can apply for an ESTA in advance of travel to the U.S. If you are a national of Sudan or Iran, you need a full visa.
The ESTA still allows a degree of monitoring over who is allowed into the U.S. but cuts down the bureaucracy involved in full visa applications. ESTA holders are currently allowed 90 days maximum at a time in the U.S. on a bona fide trip. If visitors wish to stay for longer, they still have to apply for a full visa.
In 2016, Canada also launched a similar visa waiver system to the ESTA called the eTA.
The main stated benefit of the introduction of a compulsory ETIAS is to provide a database on travellers in a bid to tighten security in the Schengen countries. However, another benefit that has been touted is that it could bring a much needed boost to the E.U. at a time when revenue received by the E.U. Commission has significantly dropped. Each ETIAS applicant will be required to pay the minimum government fee of €7. Thus, the predicted revenue for the first launch year of 2023 might be as much as €200 million.
Questions About Applying for ETIAS
The system will allow a simpler method of valid travel to the Schengen countries for citizens who presently do not need a Schengen visa. In fact, the number of countries whose citizens do not need a Schengen visa at present is approximately 60. This means that all these people will need to apply for an ETIAS.
The present Schengen immigration rules, both for those who need a visa and for those who up to now do not, can be complex based on family ties and purpose of visit. There are different arrangements for those people who wish to travel to several Schengen countries, or only one of them, and depend on what they want to do when they are there. For those people who are not in Schengen, but who live in another E.U. country, there are no restrictions on entry or movement within the zone.
The change in the system would allow ‘third country’ citizens who are from an approved list of countries to apply for the ETIAS at least 96 hours before expected travel, as well as pay the required fee. This would include citizens from America, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many nationalities considered ‘less of a risk’, who at present do not need a visa.
You can only apply online for ETIAS, as you would any other electronic travel authorization. Mail or postal applications are not accepted.
No, only one approved ETIAS is required per traveller to visit all ETIAS member countries. You do not need to apply for an ETIAS for each member country you visit. An approved ETIAS will cover all visits to ETIAS member countries, regardless the travellers point of E.U. entry or exit.
Completing your online application form will take less than 10 minutes. After submission, your ETIAS application will be processed instantly and you will receive a decision from the system within 96 hours or less. A small percentage of applications may take up to four weeks to process if additional documentation is required from the applicant. If your ETIAS has not yet been approved and you do not have any other travel authorization, you will not be able to enter a country within the European Union.
ETIAS will cost €7 EUR for individuals between the ages of 18 and 70. For persons under the age of 18, or over 70, a fee will not be charged.
The ETIAS will be valid for three years, or the date of passport expiry (whichever comes first), and can be used for stays of up to 90 days in a 180 day period.
You can learn more about who needs an ETIAS by visiting the following link: https://etias.com/about-etias/who-needs-etias
No, you will not also need an ETIAS if you have a Schengen Visa. However, your Schengen Visa will still be required for E.U. travel.
ETIAS will be required for British Citizens, as well as for British nationals (Overseas) British Overseas Territories citizens (BOTC), British overseas citizens (BOC), British protected persons (BPP) and British subjects (BS).
No, you should use the passport of the E.U. or ETIAS member country to enter and exit Europe. You will not need an ETIAS if you travel using the passport of the E.U. member country.
No, if you have a residency card or residency status in an EU country, you will not need to apply for an ETIAS but will need to travel using your proof of residency and a valid passport.
Yes, all travellers, regardless of their age, will require a separate and approved ETIAS in order to travel to the European Union. However, individuals under the age of 18, or over the age of 70, are exempt from paying the €7 processing fee.
Yes, you will still be able to apply for an ETIAS and discuss the circumstances around your criminal conviction. If you are denied an ETIAS, you will be given the right to appeal to the Member State that has made the decision to deny your ETIAS application.
Questions About Traveling with an Approved ETIAS
No, the ETIAS is only accepted in countries part of the Schengen zone and part of the ETIAS.
Yes, although you may be subject to additional security checks by border officers within any European Union countries. Although the ETIAS grants you freedom of movement within the E.U. for short business or tourism visits, the ETIAS is a travel authorisation, and thus can be revoked at anytime by the European border authorities.
You will need an ETIAS if you are entering an ETIAS country with an international carrier transporting groups (e.g. tour group) overland by coach. However, this requirement will not be enforced by E.U. authorities until three years after the ETIAS has launched.
You will not need an ETIAS if crossing the border into a Schengen member country using a private car or other vehicle.
No, you will not need an ETIAS if entering the Schengen area, or ETIAS country, by rail.