The European Union will introduce ETIAS, the European Travel Information and Authorization System, in 2021. The EU decided to create this visa waiver program to protect and strengthen all of its shared external borders. This is why, ETIAS will be necessary to enter Europe via air, land and sea.
Citizens of over sixty countries will be eligible to obtain the ETIAS visa waiver to travel to the Schengen Area. ETIAS will be an entry requirement to visit any of the 26 member countries of the Schengen zone. When traveling to Europe by land or sea, travelers from visa exempt countries will need to have applied for ETIAS prior to their trip.
How do I obtain ETIAS to travel to Europe?
Whether you are traveling to Europe by air, land or sea, obtaining ETIAS will be a fairly simple process. Eligible travelers will be able to complete an online application form in no more than 10 minutes. Applicants will need a valid passport, a debit or credit card, and an email address.
The ETIAS application form requires that the traveler provides some personal information such as full name, sex, citizenship, and date and place of birth. Contact details such as address and email must also be provided on the form. Applicants will need to indicate the country of first intended entry. Additionally, each applicant needs to fill in details about their passport, including issuing and expiration dates.
This new European Travel Information and Authorisation System will serve to do advance checks on visa-free travelers. This screening system will help the EU identify individuals that may pose a security threat.
To recognize whether a person may pose a threat to the region, ETIAS includes questions on criminal record and trips to conflict zones. It is important that the applicant answers the questions on the application. Some of these questions inquiry whether the person has been involved in terrorist acts, sexual exploitation of children, human trafficking, drug trafficking, murder and rape. There are questions about stays in specific war zones or conflict zones and of any prior administrative decisions requiring them to leave a country in the last ten years.
How ETIAS checks your information
Once the application has been submitted, it is automatically checked against all relevant databases, which include the Eurodac and the Visa Information System (VIS), to verify whether the passport used has been reported stolen or lost, or if the person is wanted for arrest. However, the majority of applicants will get their travel authorization almost immediately.
In the case that there’s one or more hits when the system verifies the application, or a positive reply to any of the questions on criminal records, trips to conflict areas, or orders to leave a country, the applicant’s data will be manually checked and individually assessed. An applicant may be requested to provide additional information and in some exceptional cases, will be invited for an interview.
It is also possible that an ETIAS application is rejected and the applicant is refused entry. If this happens, they will be informed of the reasons and their rights to appeal.
Travelers should keep in mind, that even if they have a valid ETIAS, the guards at the border have the final say on entry to the region.
Once approved, ETIAS grants the holder a stay of up to 90 days within a 180-day period. The ETIAS is valid for 3 consecutive years, unless the passport expires.