If you are worried that you might need a visa to travel to Europe, this article is for you!
What we know so far: There are currently 62 countries who are not in the EU, but can travel to the EU visa-free.
What has changed: To reduce procedures and wait times, as well as address the security concerns, the European Commission has come up with a solution – ETIAS.
ETIAS, which stands for the European Travel Information and Authorization System, is not in technical terms, the same thing as a visa, but rather, an authorization.
ETIAS is a visa waiver pre-screening program for travellers under the EU visa-free program, that want to travel to the EU for tourism or business for up to 90-day stays. According to the EU, the main reason for the introduction of such a scheme is the protection and strengthening of the EU external borders.
ETIAS is very similar to the US Electronic System for Travel Authorization, which most Schengen nationals need to obtain in order to travel to the US for tourism and business. While there are only 38 countries under the American ESTA, currently 62 nations are part of the Schengen visa-free entry program. Australia and Canada also run similar schemes, and New Zealand will introduce its own this year, as well.
The process to obtain an ETIAS is simple and quick. Applicants only need to complete an online form and pay a fee of €7 online. The authorization will be valid for three years, and travellers will be able to enter the country with the same authorization as many times as they want within this period.
ETIAS is expected to be fully operational by January 1, 2021.