The ETIAS e-visa waiver for European countries will soon be implemented, the EU announced that the system will be up and running from 2022.

The European Commission and European Parliament agreed to introduce ETIAS as a following the success of several similar visa waiver schemes around the world. ETIAS is similar to the US ESTA visa waiver, Canadian eTA, and Australian eTA for example.

Europe’s e-visa waiver will boost security and safety across the 26 Schengen Area countries by improving border control and preventing potentially risky individuals from entering the EU legally.

When will ETIAS become mandatory?

At the moment there is no exact date that Europe’s online visa waiver will come into effect. ETIAS is still being developed by the EU and the various entities that have been created for this purpose.

However, the EU has announced that ETIAS will be implemented by the end of 2022 for all eligible citizens from current visa-waiver countries.

Following the launch, there will be a 6-month grace period. During this time it will be possible to apply for ETIAS but, at this stage, it will be voluntary.

These 6 months will be used to inform travellers about the new system and allow people to become familiar with the new procedure.

Once the grace period has elapsed, ETIAS will become mandatory for all visa-exempt non-EU nationals.

WHAT EUROPE’S ONLINE VISA WAIVER MEANS FOR TRAVELLERS

Currently, anybody from an eligible visa-exempt nation can enter one of the 26 ETIAS countries using just a valid passport. There is no previous screening process or extra security measures that would help to keep Europe from the threat of cross-border crime and other potential risks.

This is set to change from 2022 with the introduction of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System. All those who meet the ETIAS requirements must apply, the application is fully online and can be completed in minutes.

Once approved, the travel authorisation is linked to the passport. The Schengen electronic visa waiver can be used to enter all the countries in the zone. It is valid for 3 years or until the passport used to apply expires.

Foreigners who are not from a country with visa-free access to Europe must continue to apply for a Schengen visa. This is a traditional visa and as such the applicant has to provide additional supporting documentation such as proof of funds and medical insurance.

Do UK citizens need to apply for Europe’s eVisa waiver?

As the UK has now left the EU, its citizens are considered third-country nationals. Whilst they will not need a visa for Europe, UK citizens will need to register with ETIAS.

British passport holders should familiarise themselves with the new procedures and, like those from other non-EU nations, be prepared for the new electronic Schengen visa waiver.

What do you need to be eligible to apply for ETIAS?

To be eligible for en ETIAS e-visa for European countries, travellers must have a passport issued by a visa-exempt nation. Citizens of more than 60 countries are able to enter the Schengen Area without a visa and will, therefore, need to register with ETIAS once it is implemented.

The passport used to apply must be biometric to allow for the permit to be linked to the document electronically.
A credit or debit card plus a valid email address are the only other requirements.

Applying for Europe's online visa waiver

Provided all the above criteria are met, the traveller can go ahead and apply for the Schengen Area electronic visa waiver.

ETIAS is not an e-visa for Europe but a travel authorisation or e-visa waiver and, as such, it is easier to obtain than a traditional visa.

As the system is fully online the application can be made from home 24 hours a day. In addition, there’s no need to attend an interview at an embassy or consulate or provide lots of supporting documents.

To request an e-visa waiver for Europe, eligible travellers should provide complete the online ETIAS application form with basic personal information and passport details such as their full name, date of birth, and passport number.

Finally, each ETIAS applicant must answer certain security and health-related questions.

These details are then screened against various international security databases such as the Schengen Information System (SIS) and Europol to ensure all those who are granted Europe’s e-visa waiver do not represent any type of security or health threat.

Any mistakes made when filling in the form, or missing information, may lead to delays and even ETIAS rejection. Should this occur the individual will not be allowed to enter Europe through any air, land, or seaport.