ETIAS is a new electronic visa program intended to increase tourism and revenue in the EU, whilst simultaneously boosting the areas security.
According to the European Commission, over 30 million tourists from non-EU countries entered the Schengen zone. By 2020 that amount is expected to rise by another 9 million. A 50 euro ETIAS fee could lead to over 2 billion euros a year entering the EU through ETIAS alone.

The electronic visa system will be similar to the current ones implemented in nations such as the US or Canada. EU citizens will be exempt from the requirements of an ETIAS visa.
The European Commission hopes to have the system live by 2020, with 54 countries already looking likely to be signed up on the program, for easy EU access.

Who needs ETIAS?

Currently there are 57 nations that can enter the Schengen zone for 90 or 180 days (depending on which country). When ETIAS is launched, nationals of those 57 countries will require an ETIAS visa to enter the Schengen zone instead.
SCHENGEN
Area
26
Austria
Belgium
Czech R.
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Iceland
Italy
Latvia
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Malta
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Learn  More
Eligible
Countries
57
Albania
Antigua and Barbuda
Argentina
Australia
Bahamas
Barbados
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Brazil
Brunei
Canada
Chile
Colombia
Costa Rica
Dominica
El Salvador
Georgia
Grenada
Guatemala
Honduras
Israel
Japan
Kiribati
Macau
FYR of Macedonia
Malaysia
Marshall Islands
Mauritius
Mexico
Micronesia
Moldova
Montenegro
New Zealand
Nicaragua
Palau
Panama
Paraguay
Peru
Samoa
Seychelles
Serbia
Singapore
Solomon Islands
South Korea
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Taiwan
Timor-Leste
Tonga
Trinidad and Tobago
Tuvalu
Ukraine
United Arab Emirates
United States of America
Uruguay
Vanuatu
Venezuela

What are the requirements?

The first requirement to qualify for ETIAS is that you are a citizen/national of one of the countries listed in the “Who needs ETIAS?” section.

If you are from one of the listed countries, you will also need:

  • A valid passport or travel document - this must be valid for entering Europe and must have a machine readable section of the persons biographical details. Passports also sometimes need an electronic chip in order to function effectively with any kind of electronic via. However, this is not always the case and therefore just a recommendation, not a requirement.
  • Information on:
    • Your full name
    • Any previous names
    • Place and country of birth
    • Current address
    • Date of birth
    • Nationality
    • Sex
    • The names of both parents
  • Contact details - including email and mobile/landline number/s
  • Education and employment history, plus current place of work or study
  • Information to answer background questions on:
  • Medical history
  • Current medical state
  • Criminal history
  • Any journeys to current or previous war zones
  • Any history of rejection or deportation from an EU member state
  • Identity proof - only if you are responsible for a minor or submitted someone else's application
  • The identity details of those whom family ties are with - only if you are a third country national benefitting from free movement without a residency card and have family within the European Union
Applications for ETIAS can be completed via desktop, laptop or mobile phone and require a stable internet connection. On average, filling out an application form and submitting the application is expected to take around 20 minutes. At the end of the submission, you will be asked to pay the 7 euro fee if you are over the age of 18, via debit or credit card. If you are under 18, ETIAS is free.

When does ETIAS inititate?

After its initial proposal in 2016, ETIAS was first set to go live in late 2020. However, small delays have led to early 2021 also being a possibility for the electronic visa program going live.

The differences between ETIAS and Schengen visas

Since the proposal of ETIAS back in 2016, there has often been confusion as to whether applicants need an ETIAS visa or a Schengen visa. The best way to tell which one of the two you need is to look at the way travel is currently conducted within the EU. If you are from outside the EU, yet can still enter the EU nations without a visa, after the introduction of ETIAS, you will need an ETIAS visa. On the other hand, if you currently need a visa to enter the EU, you will need a Schengen visa.
So what are the other key differences between an ETIAS visa and a Schengen visa?

1 - Countries

Schengen Countries
Non Schengen Countries
Some countries are part of Schengen and not the European Union. This means a Schengen visa would cover those nations whereas ETIAS would not.

These nations are Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein
Some countries are part of the European Union are not Schengen. This means an ETIAS visa would cover those nations whereas Schengen would not. These nations are United Kingdom (subject to change due to brexit), Republic of Ireland, Cyprus, Croatia, Bulgaria (in the process of joining Schengen), Romania (in the process of joining Schengen).

2 - Types of ETIAS

There is only one, electronic version of ETIAS. On the other hand, Schengen has two types of visa, which fall under 2 categories (with sub-categories).
Category A
Category C
Category A Schengen visa allows the holder to transit through an airport. However, they cannot leave the airport or stay in the country.
  • Category C Schengen visa allows the holder to stay in a Schengen member country short term. It also has subcategories which are as follows:
    • Single entry: This allows one entry to a single Schengen nation for a certain time frame. Expires after departure.
    • Double entry: This allows entry to the Schengen zone for a certain time, on two separate occasions. It expires after the second exit.
    • Multiple entry: This allows for as many entries and exits to the Schengen zone as desired, for 90 days within an 180 day period.     
ETIAS is electronically attached to the passport whereas Schengen visas are entered manually into the passport.

3 - Applicability

ETIAS allows the holder to visit several countries within the time of their visas validity. However, when travelling on an ETIAS visa, the holder must declare the first country they are intending to visit on their travels and arrive in that nation first.
Contrastingly, Schengen holders may only visit one specific country at a time. On any occasion someone wants to visit more than one country using a Schengen visa, they must make that clear upon applying. They must also apply at the embassy of the country they will spend the most time in on their trip.

4 - Duration

Schengen visas allow up to 90 days stay within a 9 month period from first entry. Whereas ETIAS can be valid for up to 3 years.

5 - Applications

Applications for ETIAS visas can be done online, and are usually completed within 20 minutes. Whereas Schengen visas have to be applied for in the embassy of the country the traveller intends to visit. This process can take up to 2 months as it is not automated and every application is manually processed.

6 - Passport

For ETIAS visas, passports must have a machine readable biographical details section. For Schengen, passports must have at least 2 pages free for stamps and be valid for at least 3 month after the visas expiry date.

ETIAS, the UK, and Article 50

Article 50, better known as Brexit, has left many British travellers unsure on the documents they may need when travelling to Europe. Due to Brexits turbulent state, it is difficult to give an exact answer on what will be needed come March 29th. However, as things currently stand, it is likely British citizens will need ETIAS or Schengen to travel within Europe. This may yet be subject to change if any deal is made between the British government, the EU and the European Commission.

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