The European continent is the biggest tourist destination in the world. When traveling to Europe, non-EU citizens have to apply for either the ETIAS EU visa waiver or the Schengen visa.

Those eligible for the ETIAS EU visa waiver are not required to apply for the Schengen visa. However, those not eligible for the ETIAS EU visa waiver or travel authorization are required to apply for a Schengen visa at an embassy or consulate.

The ETIAS travel authorization for Europe targets citizens of the countries who can currently enter the EU zone visa-free. Currently, there are 60 countries outside of the European Union whose citizens can enter the EU Schengen Zone without needing a visa.

Non-EU citizens will be required to obtain an ETIAS travel authorization to enter the Schengen Area. Citizens from countries not mentioned in the list above have an obligation to apply for the Schengen visa.

ETIAS travel authorization

The EU Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) will only apply to citizens of countries that do not need a visa to access the Schengen area. ETIAS is regarded as a way to strengthen security in the EU, like its counterpart the ESTA did for the United States.

How does it work?

  • ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System. It is an entirely electronic system which allows and keeps track of visitors from countries who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Zone.

  • The ETIAS system will be simple to use and will save time for applicants since it will be much quicker to process.

  • Non-EU citizens can obtain their ETIAS travel authorization through an online application where they will have to supply biometric information such as full name, date of birth, address, citizenship, work experience, address, first EU country you intend to visit, and phone number.

  • The ETIAS online application will save travelers time and avoid long lines and reduce waiting times drastically.

  • Applicants are required to have a passport valid for 3 months, a valid credit/debit card, and a valid email address, to apply for an ETIAS EU visa waiver.

  • Each application will undergo a detailed security check thanks to a complete database, including details of the international police organization Europol and Interpol, as well as the Schengen Information System, which security agencies use to monitor border entry. This travel authorization system will gather, keep track of, and update necessary information regarding visitors to determine whether it is safe for them to enter Schengen countries.

  • If granted, the ETIAS would last for three years. It would also be a multi-entry travel authorization, allowing its holder to enter and travel around the EU for up to 90 days for each 180 days.

  • To apply for the ETIAS authorization correctly, you must enter Europe through the country you mentioned first in your application. If you are planning to visit Germany, Belgium, and Austria, and state in your application that the first country you will visit is Germany, then you are required to enter Europe through Germany before traveling to Belgium and Austria. After you enter Europe through the first country mentioned in your application, then you can visit any other country in the Schengen Zone for up to 90 days.

  • The ETIAS will be issued for both business and touristic purposes, and will also allow people to visit the Schengen countries for medical and transit reasons. Also, it will be mandatory for all countries who are Schengen visa-free.

  • If you have a valid ETIAS visa waiver, you will not need a Schengen visa.

Schengen visa

The Schengen Area is made up of 26 European states that have abolished passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders to allow free movement of people and goods. Of the 26 countries bound by the Schengen agreement, 22 are part of the EU, and the other 4 are part of the EFTA. For international travel purposes, it is as if it was only one country. Citizens of the member states of the Schengen Area can move, live, work, retire in any of the Schengen countries without the need for a visa. However, non-EU citizens from eligible countries must apply for a Schengen visa.

How does it work?

  • Unlike the ETIAS visa waiver, a Schengen visa is issued for one specific country. If you wish to travel to more than one Schengen country you will have to apply at the consulate or embassy of the Schengen State where you will spend the most time. If traveling to attend a business conference in France, but also visiting Italy, you would have to apply for the Schengen visa at a French embassy or consulate, for example.

  • The Schengen visa entitles you to enter all countries of the Schengen Area: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

  • The Schengen visa allows you to transit or reside in the Schengen Area for a maximum of 90 days for every six-month period starting from the date of entry.

  • Unlike ETIAS, there are different types of Schengen Visas, and each one has restrictions that apply:

    1. ā€œAā€ category Schengen Visa stands for Airport Transit Visa which allows its holder to transit through a specific Schengen Country but without being allowed to leave the airport.

    2. ā€œCā€ category stands for short-term visa which allows its holder to remain in a Schengen Country (Schengen Area) for a determined period of time depending on the visa validity. This particular category has 3 sub categories:

      a) Single-entry visa which allows its holder to enter the Schengen Area only once for a given period of time. The visa expires once you leave the Schengen Area, even if you have not exceeded the allotted time period to stay in the Schengen Area.

      b) Double-entry visa which is similar to the single-entry visa. However, you are allowed to enter the Schengen Area twice. Once you leave the Schengen Area for the second time the visa expires.

      c) A multiple-entry visa allows its holder to enter the Schengen Area multiple times for a maximum 90 of days each 180 days.

  • Your passport must contain at least two blank pages for the visa and entry and exit stamps.

  • Your passport must be valid for at least 3 months beyond the date of expiration of your short-stay visa.

  • Your passport must have the same validity as your visa when requesting a long-stay visa of definite duration (long-stay visa constituting a residence permit).