Being an American, it has always been a breezy affair to travel to Europe. All you need to do is purchase a ticket, fly to the destination of your choice, pass through the immigration and you’re there! Easy.
*A guest post by Susan Noel.
However, as of January 1st 2021, travellers from around 60 other countries and the Americas, who previously enjoy visa-free travel to all Schengen states of Europe, will be required to take new steps ahead of their visit. This extra step is called the ETIAS visa waiver or the EU Travel Information & Authorization System and we’re going to elaborate on the details in this post.
What is the ETIAS?
The European Travel Information and Authorization System or ETIAS is a special approval that is needed by travellers before they enter the countries within the Schengen Zone. It was during the State of the Union Address in 2016 September that the European Commission brought forth the dire need for the ETIAS. This is introduced as it will work as a security measure to manage who is getting entry into the Schengen Zone nations.
The ETIAS waiver program pre-approves travellers who enter Europe before they arrive within the country. This program runs a background check for each applicant to ensure that they don’t have any security issues. This system also maintains a close watch on the tourists as they move via the Schengen Zone, putting in a constant effort to reduce any threats or risks.
Is there something called an ETIAS Visa?
In spite of being called ETIAS Visa, the process of authorisation doesn’t need a similar lengthy approval process like that of a visa. Based on factors like your reason for visiting the country and your place of residence, you may now even require a visa to enter Europe. Throughout the world, different countries have different requirements for visa which can involve comprehensive paperwork before giving you permission for work, educational purposes and tourism. Visas may take up to several weeks for approval and can cost you a considerable amount of money.
Note: South Africans have long required a Schengen Visa to visit Europe.
When will the ETIAS go into effect?
You’ll have to submit an ETIAS application for any travel that is planned to any of the countries of the Schengen Zone after 2021 January.
Which are the ETIAS countries?
The European Travel Information and Authorization System will cover all the 26 Schengen Zone countries that are located within Europe. These countries include the following:
Why will someone need an ETIAS?
Regardless of whether you’re travelling for business, vacation, transit reasons or medical purposes, you’ll have to apply for the ETIAS. Besides a valid passport, an ETIAS is one of the most important travel documents that will make sure you’re given entry into the nations of the Schengen Zone. It is the liability of the traveller to ensure they have all the authorizations and visas that are necessary for entering the chosen destination.
How can you apply for the ETIAS?
There is single official paperwork that is required to submit the ETIAS application which is a valid passport. Nevertheless, there are certain features like your passport has to be readable by the machine; it should include a digital photo and in few cases, should have an electronic chip.
How much does ETIAS cost?
The cost of ETIAS is anticipated to be $8 per application. The fee can directly be paid on the website before the processing of the ETIAS application.
How long will the ETIAS last?
Once the ETIAS application is approved, the waiver program remains valid for 3 years of travel. During this time, you’re allowed to visit the Schengen member countries unlimited number of times. However, each visit can’t exceed 90 days within a period of 180 days. So, now that you’re aware of everything about ETIAS, you can easily grab one before you travel to the Schengen member countries. As it costs less than even a fast-food plate and can be done online, it is a pain-free process.
Author Bio: Susan Noel is an experienced content writer. She is associated with many renowned travel blogs as a guest author where she shares her valuable travel tips with the audience.
For further travel inspiration read my account of Living like a Local in Lisbon. Portugal. One of my ultimate European cities.