Do Canadian citizens need a visa for Europe?
By the end of 2022, Canadian citizens wishing to travel to Europe will be eligible for the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) visa waiver program. The aim of the ETIAS is to strengthen the borders of Europe’s Schengen Area by pre-checking the information of travellers from 60 eligible countries from all over the world.
ETIAS is not a visa, it is a visa waiver program. However, Canadian passport holders will still need to apply with the proper European authorities in advance to gain clearance for travel to and within the Schengen Area. Once granted, the ETIAS allows holders to visit as many countries within the Schengen Area as they like for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. That means that simply leaving the Schengen Area does not reset the number of days Canadians are allowed to stay in Europe.
NOTE: ETIAS waivers are valid for the entire period (90 days within 180 days) meaning Canadian travellers do not need to reapply for a second waiver should they exit the Schengen Area and wish to re-enter.
The ETIAS application process was designed with simplicity in mind and can be completed entirely online.
ETIAS requirements for Canadian citizens
Canadian passport holders are eligible to apply for the ETIAS visa waiver for entry into the Schengen Area provided they comply with the ETIAS requirements for non-EU citizens including:
- A valid passport from an ETIAS eligible country. In the case that Canadian citizens hold multiple passports, they must ensure that the passport the use is one of the 60 eligible for the waiver.
- A valid debit or credit card to pay the fee for the application.
- A valid email address. This is imperative as not only will any updates regarding the status of the application be relayed via email, but the final decision, as well as any appeals, will also be carried out through email.
- Accurately filling out all required sections of the ETIAS application.
The ETIAS application process for Canadian citizens
The ETIAS visa waiver will be completed and reviewed by European authorities online.
In addition to streamlining the process so that Canadian travellers do not need to visit a physical embassy or consulate, the application process does not require Canadians to be in Canada when they apply. This means that travellers from Canada will be able to plan a trip to Europe whether they are at home or already abroad.
While the application is meant to be completed in as few as ten minutes, it is still a serious document and should be thoroughly checked by the applicant before submission. Any information that is proved to be wrong, even if entered by mistake, could result in the delay or rejection of the application.
In addition to the information above, Canadian nationals applying for the ETIAS will need to be prepared to provide:
- Personal details such as their full name, date of birth, place of birth, and gender.
- Contact details such as their current residence, telephone number, and email address.
- Passport details matching up with the passport that they plan to use for travel to the Schengen Area. These details can include the date of issue of the passport, the place or country of issue, and the passport number.
- Travel plans or a rough itinerary for their trip to Europe. It is critical that travellers include their intended port of entry into the Schengen Area.
- Other information applicants should be expected to provide include their criminal record and history of health.
European authorities are anticipating an acceptance rate of around 95% for ETIAS applicants. Once the acceptance email has been received, Canadian travellers should print out a hard copy of the confirmation so that they can produce it when required by transportation authorities at their port of departure or upon arrival in the Schengen Area by border officials.
If the application results in a rejection, the applicant will have the option of submitting an appeal directly to the Schengen Area member country. For example, if a visitor is intending to enter Europe in Madrid, they would submit their appeal to Spain.
Why the need for ETIAS?
For many travellers, ETIAS may seem like an unnecessary formality. That is not the case. Though it is designed to streamline the entry of tourists, ETIAS was designed with safety and security in mind following the spike in terrorist activity across Europe.
Although ETIAS does not guarantee entry, if allowed access by border control, tourists will be able to enjoy unrestricted travel across all borders within the Schengen Area.