The ETIAS Visa Waiver to Make Europe a Safer Place

| Post by

update icon

Proposed by the European Commission in April 2016 and approved in November 2016, ETIAS is a multiple entry visa waiver expected to be launched by the end of 2022

Starting in 2021, visitors from many countries who can currently enter the European Schengen Area without a visa will have to register with a new electronic visa waiver system called ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System).

There are various benefits of ETIAS, not least that it improves security for the Schengen countries, their citizens and residents, and everyone visiting them.

The digitalization of data and the process of screening travelers before they arrive means that less time will be spent checking new arrivals’ documents at the Schengen border. This means it will be quicker and easier for travelers with an ETIAS to enter Europe.

Registration with ETIAS will be obligatory for all travelers who are visa-exempt except for citizens and residents of Schengen member states.

Night view of the Eiffel Tower

How Does ETIAS Improve European Security?

ETIAS is designed to improve safety and security for the Schengen Area. Visa-exempt visitors will have to complete a quick online application form with personal details (name, date of birth, nationality, etc.), passport details, and travel plans.

This data will be screened against international databases. Most applicants will be approved and receive confirmation of the ETIAS registration by email.

Any travelers found to have a history of involvement in serious criminal activity or terrorism will be denied their ETIAS and therefore entry to Europe. This will help to protect the Schengen Area and people traveling to it from the following threats:

  • Drug trafficking
  • Human trafficking
  • Identity theft
  • Illegal immigration
  • Organized crime
  • Terrorism

Information about travelers with ETIAS will be safely encrypted and stored by the European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (eu-LISA). It will only be available to authorized border control officials.

Approved ETIAS applications will be linked to smart passports, meaning that fewer border control officers will be needed for checks where there are e-Passport gates. This has the dual advantage of optimizing border control resources and enabling visitors to enter Europe quickly and smoothly.

Which Countries Can You Visit with ETIAS?

The Schengen Area is a region of Europe made up of 26 countries that operate an open borders policy. As a rule, there are no checks on travelers crossing borders between member states; only on those entering the Schengen Area from a non-member country.

The Schengen Area should not be confused with the European Union (EU), which is a separate political organization. However, 22 of the 28 EU members are also part of the Schengen zone, along with 4 non-EU states (Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland).

The Schengen countries cooperate on immigration and border control matters, sharing information and resources to maintain security for the entire area and all its members.

ETIAS is the next step in this process. It will allow Schengen border control to screen all travelers before they arrive in Europe and prevent potential risks from entering. Meanwhile, approved visitors will be able to travel to any and all countries in the Schengen zone.

The 26 Schengen countries are:

Czech RepublicItalyPortugal

Traveling to Europe With ETIAS

It is important to note that ETIAS is not a visa. It is a travel authorization, similar to the US ESTA or the Canadian eTA. The application process is much faster and more straightforward than that of a visa.

The applicant must follow these steps:

  • Register their details on an online application form
  • Send digital copies of their travel documents (passport)
  • Pay the application fee.

Only citizens of visa-exempt countries may apply. Nationals of other countries will not be eligible for ETIAS and must apply for a Schengen visa instead.

There are 3 distinct advantages of the ETIAS for the traveler:

  • It makes the Schengen Area safer as a whole, giving them peace of mind for their trip
  • It reduces the time taken to pass through border control due to digital data
  • Once approved, ETIAS will be valid for 3 years, enabling further visits to Schengen member states
  • They can check the terms, details, and expiration date of their ETIAS online at any time

Scheduled to be introduced in 2021, ETIAS will be mandatory for eligible visitors and will allow them to travel freely within the Schengen Area. It looks certain to strengthen security, help combat international crime, and make Europe a safer place.

Related News

  • The European Commission has revealed its plan to digitalize the Schengen visa. This will replace the mostly paper-based application system to obtain a visa for EU and Schengen countries currently in place. This means the Schengen visa will soon be available through a simplified online application process, similar to the European Travel Information and Authorization

    Read More
  • The United Kingdom has now completed its Brexit transition period and has fully left the European Union (EU). This means that UK citizens will no longer EU privileges when traveling to European countries. Although UK Prime Minister and Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen finally managed to come to a deal

    Read More
  • Europe’s Schengen Area—a group of 26 countries that have been in an open-borders agreement for a quarter of a century—has marked its 25th anniversary with border checks reinstated and movement restricted due to the outbreak of coronavirus. The Schengen Area has closed its external borders to travelers from third countries. Only nationals and official residents

    Read More
  • Official sources from the European Commission have confirmed that the implementation of the ETIAS visa waiver to travel to Schengen Area countries has been delayed for a year until 2022. ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) is a pre-travel authorization system for visa-exempt citizens to travel to Schengen Countries. The Schengen Area consists of

    Read More
  • Four of Europe’s microstates will not be on the list of countries whose citizens have to register with the Schengen Area’s new ETIAS travel authorization system to visit the majority of European countries. Nationals of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City currently enjoy freedom of movement around the Schengen Area—an open border region of

    Read More