As of late 2022, certain eligible third-country nationals will need a special travel authorisation to enter the European Union. This permit is called ETIAS and acts as a visa waiver. Learn who will need to apply for an ETIAS document before travelling to Europe.

The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) will become a mandatory entry requirement for many foreigners once it is launched in late 2022.

ETIAS is a visa waiver to enter the Schengen Area, a travel zone composed of 26 European destinations including top tourist destinations such as France, Spain, and Italy.

Non-European passport holders need to be prepared for this change to European visa policy. Travellers can find information below about who needs ETIAS, how to apply, and the benefits of the new system.

Travelling to Europe From Outside the EU

Visitors in European countries can be placed into 3 categories depending on their country of origin:

  • Travellers from other EU countries
  • Non-EU citizens from visa-exempt nations
  • Non-EU citizens from countries that require a visa

ETIAS is available to travellers from visa-exempt nations

All those in category 2 will require the ETIAS visa waiver. Until now, citizens from over 60 third countries have been able to access the Schengen Area for short stays using just a valid passport.

While the EU’s visa liberalisation policy has provided quick and hassle-free access to European destinations, the need for greater security has led to the development of ETIAS, a new visa waiver system.

Just some of the ETIAS eligible countries include:

Passport holders from these nations and more than 50 others will continue to enjoy the benefits of visa-free travel from 2022. They will, however, be required to register with ETIAS before departure.

ETIAS for British citizens

Following Brexit and the UK’s departure from the European Union, British passport holders are now third-country nationals.

While they will not be required to obtain a visa for short stays in Europe, British travellers will need ETIAS to visit Europe.

Schengen visa for other third-country nationals

International arrivals from category 3 above are not eligible for ETIAS. People from non-visa-exempt countries will still need a Schengen visa to enjoy holidays and short business trips in Europe.

The Schengen visa application process is more complex and requires additional supporting evidence compared with ETIAS. Applicants should check all the visa requirements carefully.

Do children from non-EU countries need ETIAS?

Another question that arises when discussing who needs ETIAS is whether minors need the permit. The answer to this question is yes, passport holders under the age of 18 must register with ETIAS.

Parents and guardians can apply for ETIAS for their children, indicating on the form that the request is being made on behalf of a minor.

ETIAS for Short Stays in Europe

People travelling to any of the countries in the Schengen Area for tourism, business or short-term medical treatment will need ETIAS. The authorisation will also be required to transit through Schengen territory en route to a third country.

With ETIAS, overseas visitors can stay in the region for up to 90 days in a 180-day period.

A visa or other permit is needed to stay in the Schengen Area for longer than 3 months, or for purposes other than those mentioned above, although there are certain EU-third countries visa waiver bilateral agreements that can also apply in special circumstances.

How to Complete the Online ETIAS Registration

From 2022, everyone who needs ETIAS to enter the Schengen Area will be able to submit their application online. The ETIAS registration process is fully electronic and can be completed from home or anywhere with an internet connection.

Eligible travellers will be asked to provide personal details such as their name, nationality, and email address, in addition to passport data. There are also some health and safety questions.

All information provided must be accurate and error-free. Any mistakes made at this stage may lead to delays or even ETIAS rejection.

How is travellers’ information used by ETIAS?

When the application has been submitted, the information provided by each applicant is automatically cross-checked against international security databases and the ETIAS watchlist.

Provided there are no hits, the ETIAS request will be approved within minutes, and the visa waiver is attached to the applicant’s passport.

On the rare occasion that something is flagged up, the ETIAS Central and National Units are responsible for deciding whether an individual can be safely granted access to the Schengen Area.

How Travellers Will Benefit From ETIAS

One advantage of ETIAS is that it is valid for the entire Schengen zone. It is not necessary for foreigners who need ETIAS to get a separate visa waiver for each nation they wish to visit. ETIAS is required to cross the external border but, one in the border-free travel zone, they can move freely.

In addition, ETIAS is valid for 3 years. Visitors only need to reapply once the permit or their passport expires; the authorisation is electronically linked to the biometric chip inside the applicant’s passport and can be transferred.

An ETIAS authorisation can be used for multiple short trips during the 3-year validity period.