Travelers planning to visit European countries such as France, Germany, Italy and Spain may soon be required to complete an online travel authorization in advance to guarantee entry upon arrival.
At the moment, citizens of over 60 countries are able to travel to the Schengen passport-free zone for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa or travel authorization. The Schengen Area is made up of 26 countries, including 22 EU countries and 4 non-EU countries.
However, in 2021, the European Commission will implement the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) in order to pre-screen these same visa-exempt foreign citizens before arrival in the Schengen Area.
ETIAS is an electronic visa waiver which will allow multiple entries to Schengen countries during its validity.
The new ETIAS system is is being introduced to pre-identify any security risks before travelers arrive in Europe, to strengthen the external borders of the Schengen zone.
Once introduced, it will be mandatory for all visa-exempt citizens for the Schengen Area to complete an online ETIAS application to guarantee entry upon arrival at at European ports of entry.
Nationalities that Will Need to Register to Travel to Europe
All foreign citizens who are currently visa-exempt for Schengen Area countries will be required to pre-register for an ETIAS to travel to Europe for short stays by the end of 2021.
This will include all nationals of the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, Brazil, and New Zealand, among others.
The Schengen Area countries are currently made up of the following nations:
- Czech Republic
- San Marino
- Vatican City
It will not be necessary to register for an ETIAS to travel to other European countries who have not signed the Schengen agreement, such as Ireland and the United Kingdom.
How to Complete an ETIAS Europe Travel Registration
Those required to register for ETIAS will be able to complete a simple online application to receive an approved Europe visa waiver electronically linked to their passport.
Applicants will be required to have a valid passport, a valid debit or credit card to pay the small processing fee, and a current email address to receive a copy of the approved ETIAS.
The ETIAS application will only take a few minutes to complete with personal data such name, date of birth, and nationality, and basic passport information.
Applicants will also need to answer a few questions related to health and security matters, and previous travel to Europe. It will also be necessary to provide details of any criminal convictions the applicant may have.
The information provided on the form will be checked against EU security databases such as Interpol and Europol before the visa waiver is approved. The European Commission has stated that 95% of applicants will receive a positive answer via email within a few minutes.
ETIAS will allow a total stay of 90 consecutive days with each entry to the Schengen Area. It will be valid for 3 years from the date of issue, meaning travelers will not need to register for ETIAS for every trip to Europe.