There are new rules for traveling to Europe from outside the EU. Third-country citizens from visa-exempt nations will soon need an electronic travel authorization.
ETIAS, the European Travel Information, and Authorization System is a new visa waiver to enter any of the nations on this Schengen country list.
Find out how this new European travel guide will affect your future trip to Europe and what you need to do to prepare.
What are the new rules?
Currently, passport holders from more than 60 countries can go to Europe without a visa. As a visa-exempt traveler, all you need is a valid passport.
While your visa-free status isn’t about to change, from late 2022 you will need a new entry permit to go to Europe. The ETIAS visa waiver is about to become a requirement for visitors from visa-exempt third countries.
You’ll still be able to visit your favorite European holiday destinations such as France, Germany, and Spain. However, you’ll need to take an extra step when planning your trip.
Who will the new rules affect?
The ETIAS regulation will affect tourists and business travelers from visa-exempt third countries. The list of nations included in the visa-free program includes the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
ETIAS will cover trips to the Schengen area of up to 90 days per 180-day period for business or tourism. Visa-free transit is also permitted.
The new rules do not apply to non-EU citizens traveling to Europe for longer than 3 months. You’ll still need a visa to live or work in an EU country.
Which countries can you visit?
The ETIAS regulation applies to all 26 countries in the Schengen Area. If you have plans to visit any of the nations in the border-free travel zone from 2022 then the new rules affect you.
Summer vacation hotspots including Spain, Italy, and Greece form part of the Schengen Area. There are also some top winter ski destinations in Austria, France, and Switzerland.
Fortunately, the same ETIAS permit is valid for all countries in the Schengen Area. You’ll need the permit to cross the external border but can then travel between member states. Convenient if you’re hoping to visit several different European destinations on one trip.
When do I need to apply?
The rules will come into effect towards the end of 2022. A 6-month grace period is expected, after which ETIAS will be mandatory to cross the border.
You’ll need to apply just a few days before your first trip to Europe once it comes into force. Processing is expected to be fast, in most cases you won’t have to wait more than a couple of working days to receive your approved travel pass.
The same permit can then be used to enter the Schengen Area multiple times. It is valid for 3 years or until your passport expires so you won’t need to apply every time you travel.
How to fill out the application form
You don’t need to worry about complicated application forms and long waiting times, it’ll be quick and easy to apply.
All you’ll need to do is fill out the electronic application form, providing some essential travel details and passport data. You’ll also need to give contact details including an email address.
All notifications are sent by email. At no point will you need to visit the embassy or consulate.
The approved visa waiver is linked to the passport used to apply and verified when crossing an external Schengen border.
Remember that the passport you apply with must be the one you use to travel and all the information should match your travel document exactly.
What do I need to apply for a visa waiver?
It’s important to remember that ETIAS is not a new type of visa. Instead, it is an electronic travel authorization and the application process is much simpler and more straightforward.
You’ll need a valid passport from an eligible country and a debit or credit card. You’ll have to pay an ETIAS processing fee before submitting the request.
Increased safety and security for travelers
One of the most significant positive effects that ETIAS will have is to make Europe even safer. People who were previously able to cross the border without any background checks will now be screened before they travel.
This is similar to electronic travel authorizations in use across the world. The United States ESTA and Canadian eTA are just 2 examples of other visa waivers designed with security in mind.
Schengen security databases will be consulted to ensure the applicant is not a health or safety threat. Only risk-free travelers will be issued a visa waiver. Visitors who do not pass the security checks will instead need to apply for a visa.
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