Non-Europea residents need a valid permit to enter Vatican City (officially, the Vatican City State). Although not a member of the Schengen Area, the European Union (EU), or the European Economic Area (EEA), Vatican City has tight relations with the Schengen Zone. A Schengen visa or travel authorisation is required to enter the Vatican.
Starting from late 2022, the vast majority of those who can now enter the Schengen Area and the Vatican City State visa-free will need to obtain an ETIAS electronic travel authorisation for Europe in order to cross the border. ETIAS is not a visa but an electronic authorisation system that can be conveniently applied for online from the comfort of one’s home or office.
Vatican City in the EU and the Schengen Area
As mentioned before, Vatican City is not part of the EU and is not a member of the Schengen Area. However, the Vatican is a unique city-state located within Rome, the capital of Italy.
Vatican City is the smallest fully independent and sovereign state in the world, with a population of only 825 people and a territory of 49 hectares. The Pope (the head of the Catholic church) is the sovereign of the state.
Being completely surrounded by Italy (an EU and Schengen member country), Vatican City has bilateral agreements in place that mean that Schengen visa rules apply to the Vatican de facto. In order to enter the Vatican City State, it is necessary to go through Italy and the Schengen Zone.
How to Apply for ETIAS for Vatican City?
Obtaining an ETIAS authorisation to enter the Vatican City State is quick and easy. Since it is not a traditional visa and the process can be finalised entirely online, there is no need to attend an embassy or consulate interview in person.
Travellers who wish to visit the Vatican with ETIAS can do so by completing the online application, which only takes a few minutes.
In order to successfully request an ETIAS, petitioners must complete the following steps:
- Fill out the application form in all of its parts
- Submit the relevant supporting documents in digital format
- Pay the ETIAS application fee
As part of the online questionnaire, travellers may be asked which Schengen country they intend to enter first. After having entered the Schengen Area, third-country nationals do not normally have to go through hard borders and document checks again.
As the Vatican is not part of the Schengen Zone and visitors must enter it through Italy, ETIAS applicants for Vatican City should not indicate the Vatican but rather Italy or another Schengen member country as their first port of entry.
Once the online application has been successfully completed, the petitioner will receive their granted ETIAS within a few days or even hours, directly in their email inbox.
Passport Requirements for ETIAS for Vatican City
As outlined above, ETIAS is not a visa and will become a necessary travel authorisation for those who can now enter Europe without a visa, without affecting their visa-free status. For this reason, it is noticeably easier to obtain than a traditional visa and presents very few document requirements.
A valid passport must be presented as part of the ETIAS application to travel and visit the Vatican. The passport must have been issued by one of the over 60 ETIAS-eligible countries. Petitioners must provide in the application form:
- The passport’s number
- The document’s place and date of issue
- The expiry date of the passport
This information must be submitted exactly as it appears on the passport. Discrepancies between the document and the form may result in the application being rejected.
It is paramount that ETIAS holders use the same passport for applying for their authorisation and for travelling to Europe and the Vatican.
As they go through passport control at an external Schengen border upon arrival in Europe, they will be required to show their passport and ETIAS authorisation. Should the information in these 2 documents not match, the ETIAS may be deemed invalid and the foreign visitor denied entry into Europe.
Travel Information about Vatican City
With millions of visitors each year, the Vatican is a popular tourist destination. Tourism is, in fact, one of the main sources of revenue for Vatican City.
Travellers come to the Vatican City State for several reasons. The Vatican is the Pope’s official residence and Catholics flock to the famous St Peter’s Square (designed by famous Renaissance architect and sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini) where the Pope addresses the community of believers.
The Vatican is also a world-class destination for art lovers. The Vatican Museums are home to some of history’s finest and most renowned masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.