ETIAS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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.

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General Questions About the ETIAS Program

There has been a lot of news recently about a proposed new travel authorisation system for the European Union. The system was originally proposed 5 years ago, but developments have speeded up recently because of terrorist attacks in France and Belgium and a feeling that there is a need for improved security measures in the region. The system proposed is called the E.U. Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and is based on a similar visa waiver system used by the United States called the ESTA. 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 EU is to improve the external and internal security of EU citizens by having a centralised system to issue travel authorisations to EU 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 28 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, not every Schengen country is in the E.U! Britain and Ireland, for instance, are in the E.U. (Britain still only just), but not in Schengen. Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Lichtenstein are all in Schengen, but not 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. You can find out more about which travellers will require an ETIAS by visiting: http://etias.com/about-etias/who-needs-etias

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.

Canada has also recently introduced a very similar visa waiver system to the ESTA and to the proposed ETIAS 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 E.U. coffers at a time when revenue received by the E.U. Commission has dropped significantly. If each ETIAS applicant is required to pay €5, as has been suggested, then the predicted revenue for 2020 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 quite large. This means that all these people may soon 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, are a little complex. 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. This includes Britain and Ireland.

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 72 hours before expected travel, as well as pay the required fee. This would include Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders and many others considered ‘less of a risk’, who at present do not need a visa.

Whether British visitors to the Schengen zone will also need to apply for an ETIAS once Britain has formally ceased to be a member of the E.U. is yet to be determined and will no doubt be hotly debated as part of Britain’s ‘Brexit’ negotiations with other E.U. states.

You can only apply online for ETIAS, as you would any other electronic travel authorization. Mail or postal applications are not accepted.

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 72 hours or less. 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 €5 euros for individuals over the age of 18. For persons under the age of 18, a fee will not be charged.

The ETIAS will be valid for five 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.

The short answer is no. ETIAS is required by individuals who currently are not EU citizens, yet do not require a visa. Such travellers are from countries such as the United States or Canada. You can learn more about who needs an ETIAS by visiting the following link: http://etias.com/about-etias/who-needs-etias

No you will not also need an ETIAS. However, your Schengen Visa will still be required for EU travel.

ETIAS will not be required for British Citizens, however, British nationals (Overseas) British Overseas Territories citizens (BOTC), British overseas citizens (BOC), British protected persons (BPP) and British subjects (BS) will require an ETIAS for travel to EU countries.

Yes, all travelers, regardless of their age, will require a separate and approved ETIAS in order to travel to the European Union. Individuals under the age of 18 are exempt from paying the €5 processing fee.

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 program. You can learn about participating ETIAS countries by visiting the following: http://etias.com/etias-countries/

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 EU for short business or tourism visits, the ETIAS is a travel authorisation, and thus can be revoked at anytime by the European border authorities.