2020: Last Chance to Visit Europe Before ETIAS

european comission

The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is currently under development by EU authorities and scheduled to launch to the public in 2021.

The main purpose behind the implementation of the ETIAS visa waiver is to improve security within the borders of the Schengen Area. This will benefit both residents and visitors alike.

The ETIAS will be a mandatory entry requirement for Europe that will be necessary for travelers from over 60 eligible countries. It is possible that more nations are added to the list in the near future.

Some of the countries whose citizens will need an ETIAS to travel to Europe in 2021 include:

  • USA
  • Japan
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan

The visa waiver for Europe will grant holders entry and the right to travel freely amongst any and all of the 26 Schengen member countries and territories.

Some of the nations foreign ETIAS holders will be entitled to visit include:

  • France
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Switzerland

The ETIAS visa waiver begun its gradual implementation since it was proposed in 2016, and will continue to do so all the way up to its scheduled introduction as a mandatory requirement for travel to Europe in 2021.

The progressive development of this European system makes 2020 the last year in which eligible travelers will be able to visit Europe without an ETIAS. It is therefore expected that a great number of tourists take advantage of the last year before the mandatory travel document comes into full force.

ETIAS’ Chronological Progression

The European Union has reached the following milestones towards the ETIAS becoming fully operational:

1985: Five European countries —Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands— signed the Schengen Agreement to achieve the gradual abolition of common border controls.

1990: The Schengen Agreement proposes the total abolition of systematic international border controls as well as a shared visa policy for member nations.

2016: The European Commission publishes the first draft of the regulation of the European Parliament and the Council establishing a European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS).

2017: The European Commission proposes the improvement of the EU’s information systems in terms of security, border control and migration by efficiently integrating the existing systems with the upcoming ETIAS.

2018: After reaching a political agreement on ETIAS, the European Council approves and adopts the regulation for the establishment of the ETIAS protocols by the European Parliament.

The decision to assign the ETIAS project —an automated information system— to the eu-LISA Agency is made. The ETIAS will, therefore, be managed by the same company that is currently in charge of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice.

2019: The European Commission implements new measures to prevent the entrance of individuals that may pose a risk to the security of the EU. Furthermore, the EC also adopts regulations that make it much harder for people to acquire weapons or purchase ingredients that may be used to manufacture homemade explosives.

2020: This would be the last year in which travelers from over 60 eligible countries have the opportunity to travel to Europe without having to register online for an ETIAS prior to their departure.

Up until 2020, all passport holders from nations that have signed visa waiver agreements with the Schengen Area may still travel to member countries just by showing their current passport upon landing.

2021: Once the ETIAS is in full force, travelers from eligible countries will have to fill out an online form before departing towards Europe. Filling out the online request should take no more than 10 minutes. The majority of visa waiver requests will be approved within one business day, although some others may take longer to be processed.

The travel authorization will have a 3-year validity as long as the passport used to apply for the ETIAS remains valid. ETIAS holders will be allowed up to 90 days to stay and visit all the countries that comprise the Schengen Area.