There are many countries that are not in the European Union (EU) whose citizens can enter the EU Schengen Zone without needing a visa. Specifically, there are currently 63 countries that are not in the EU but are visa-free.
Citizens of these countries are allowed to go into countries in the Schengen Zone for business or travel purposes for up to 90 days. During these 90 days, these visitors are not allowed to work or study but can engage in business and tourism activities.
In addition, recent security concerns with terrorism and the migrant crisis have called for better management of who is entering EU borders. The EU has continuously declared its goal of making travelling within its borders a more secure experience.
To reduce procedures and wait times, as well as address the security concerns, the European Commission (EC) has come up with a solution – ETIAS.
This article will contain all the information you need regarding this new system and whether you qualify for it.
What is ETIAS?
ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System. It is a completely electronic system that allows and keeps track of visitors from countries who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Zone. In a way, it resembles the U.S Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which serves a similar purpose.
The legal procedures to pass the ETIAS have started in 2016, and the system is expected to be fully operational in May 2023.
The ETIAS will undergo a detailed security check of each applicant to determine whether they can be allowed to enter any Schengen Zone country. While citizens of countries who do not need a visa for travel purposes of up to 90 days in the EU do not need to go through a long process of applying for the visa, the ETIAS will make sure that these people are not a security threat. 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.
The ETIAS, besides being used for business and tourist purposes, will also allow people to visit the Schengen countries for medical and transit reasons. In addition, it will be mandatory for all countries that are Schengen visa-free.
Why ETIAS Authorisation?
In his 2016 State of the Union Address, President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker has said the following:
We need to know who is crossing our borders. This way we will know who is travelling to Europe before they even get here.
The main reason for the approval of the ETIAS authorization is security. With the increased risk of travellers worldwide, the EU wants to ensure safe travels in its countries. The ETIAS will decrease security concerns substantially through its information and data gathering systems. What this means, is that the ETIAS will detect if a person is a threat in any way to the security of Schengen countries. This will lead to the person being denied entry and avoiding the threat of being present inside EU borders. It will basically deal with a problem before it is even there.
However, besides making travelling more secure, the ETIAS authorization will also assist the EU countries and all travellers in the following ways:
- Reduce procedures and application times
- Improve the management of EU country borders
- Assist in detecting and decreasing crime and terrorism
- Impede irregular migration
- Reinforce the visa liberalization policy of the EU
All in all, the ETIAS authorization will make travelling to the EU less of a hassle and a much safer experience.
THE TRAVEL AUTHORISATION SYSTEM WILL:
These are the European countries that will require a valid ETIAS upon arrival at their borders:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Who Will Need ETIAS?
As mentioned, the ETIAS targets citizens of countries who can enter the EU zone visa-free. As such, these 63 countries will need to get the ETIAS authorization
. Until the launching of the system, more countries might be added to the list, but at the moment, all citizens of the above-mentioned countries will be obliged to obtain ETIAS authorization before entering any EU country.
How Much Will ETIAS Cost?
The ETIAS will not burden your finances a lot. It is planned to have the ETIAS cost only €7 for each application. This is only valid for adults over 18 years old, as those under 18 will not have to pay any fees. You can pay the fee by debit or credit card. Immediately after you complete the payment, the ETIAS authorization will start processing.
Further information about the application process, how the system will work and FAQs may be found here
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