Why / when you will need the new ETIAS document (US travelers included)
Even before Covid-19, the rules for travel through “European” countries were complicated: some countries are in the EU; some want to be, but have not yet been allowed entry; some belong to the EU + area; and most belong to the Schengen area (but not all) which offers free movement across borders of people between member countries.
Covid-19 travel rules and restrictions have added to the complexity. The EU offers recommendations to countries to follow (the current safe list countries is a good example) and the EU Digital Covid Certificate has been successfully introduced by all European countries and is now spreading to UK and as wide as New Zealand.
However, countries are not required to follow the same rules and many currently use different rules to determine who can visit and who cannot.
And now there is another level of administration in the direction of travel to Europe in 2022. Just like the United States has their ESTA program, the EU is putting in place a new visa waiver program because it is aimed at more coherence between countries with security problems (it is moving towards a European Security Union).
The new one is called the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) and will oblige visitors from outside Europe to request a visa waiver before their arrival:
- it was supposed to come into force in January 2021, but had to be delayed until 2022, when it will be phased in, to come into full force by the end of 2022.
- you will need an ETIAS form if you are visiting one of the 26 countries in the Schengen area. It means Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia , Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
- There are 5 EU countries that are not currently in the ETIAS program – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania, where travelers will not need to apply before entry.
- it will cost € 7 per registration but, like ESTA, it will last for a fixed period, in this case 3 years, for anyone visiting between 18 and 70 years old. If someone’s passport expires within three years, they will need to apply for a new ETIAS visa waiver document.
- travelers from 63 countries will need to apply for an ETIAS form before arriving in a Schengen area country, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, United States , the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates.
- Each request is checked against data held by the Interpol, Europol and Schengen databases. The EU is waiting, according to The telegraph, that it will approve 95% of the requests and in most cases the approval will arrive within minutes.
While many companies are already offering to provide an ETIAS service to travelers, people can wait for the system to become operational. on the website of the European Commission and apply directly.