The Schengen area was implemented in 1995, 10 years after the Schengen Agreement was signed in 1985. The area currently includes 26 European states, some members of the EU and some not. The main purpose of the agreement is to remove any hard borders between member states and allow the free circulation within the area.
Presently, apart from the member states and EU citizens, there are citizens of many countries globally that are allowed to enter the Schengen area for short-term stays without the need for a visa.
After recent events and safety threats, mostly due to terrorist attacks, a decision was made to implement an electronic travel authorization, similar to the ESTA in the USA, that would allow to screen and keep track of all travelers entering the Schengen area.
This new travel authorization, ETIAS, will only be applicable to around 60 countries that currently have visa-free access to the area. The Schengen visa that already exists will remain in place and be applicable to the same countries.
The ETIAS, or Travel Information and Authorization System, will be implemented in 2021 and the process to obtain it will be entirely online.
Are Serbian Citizens Eligible to Apply for ETIAS Visa Waiver?
Although it’s a European country, due to the fact that Serbia is not a part of the Schengen area nor of the European Union, Serbian citizens will be required to apply for the ETIAS visa waiver in order to travel to any of the Schengen area member states.
The ETIAS will allow Serbian citizens to travel to any country within the area for short term stays of up to 90 days, within a 180 days period. The ETIAS is expected to have a validity of three years or until the date of expiry of the travel document, whichever comes first. Multiple entries will be allowed as long as the 90 days within 180 days limits will be respected.
The ETIAS allows travel for tourism, business, medical reasons, and transit. Once travelers in possession of the ETIAS enter the area, they will also be allowed to freely move between all the member states.
Note: work and study are not permitted when traveling with the ETIAS. For these types of trips, visitors will need to contact an embassy or consulate and apply for a visa.
What Documents Do Serbians Need to Obtain ETIAS?
There is very little documentation needed in order to apply for the ETIAS. Serbian citizens will need to provide the following:
- Their passport valid for at least three months from the date of entry in the Schengen area
- A credit or debit card to pay the ETAS fee
- A valid email address to receive the ETIAS or any updates about the status of their application
Once all the documentation is provided, applicants will need to answer a few security and health-related questions and submit the application that will go through an automated screening process.
The ETIAS Application Process for Serbian Citizens
The application process for the ETIAS is meant to be easy and straightforward to ensure all applications can be processed within the shortest time possible.
Serbian citizens will need to complete the online application form where, on top of the previously mentioned documentation, they will need to indicate:
- Biometric information: full name, country, and date of birth
- Passport details: number, date of issue and expiry, country of issue
- The first country they intend to visit in the Schengen area
Applicants should ensure all the provided information is accurate and that the documentation is up to date in order to avoid delays or denial of the ETIAS.
In case of denial, travelers will receive an email containing the reason for the denial and will be allowed to appeal. In most cases they will simply need to provide additional documentation and the ETIAS will then be granted.
How Long Does It Take to Get ETIAS From Serbia?
Obtaining an ETIAS from Serbia will be a matter of a few minutes if all provided information is accurate. In fact, all applications will go through an automated check against some databases, including Interpol and Europol. If the application passes the screening, travelers will receive a confirmation email including their ETIAS within minutes from the application or at most within 72 hours.
However, if the automated check detects any irregularities, a manual process will take place. This will take ideally up to 96 hours but in some rare cases it can prolong up to two weeks.
Note: all travelers, including infants, will need to possess an ETIAS to travel to the Schengen area. Travelers under the age of 18 will, however, be exempt from paying the application fee.
Serbian travelers planning on visiting more than one country within the Schengen area should keep in mind that they need to enter the area through the country they indicated in their application form. Once inside the Schengen area, they will be able to move freely between member states.