What is ETIAS? Traveling to Europe after 2021
Canadians love traveling to Europe and enjoy the luxury of visa-free entry. There is no need to apply for a visa or any form of travel authorization for trips of under 90 days. However, in 2021 this will change with the introduction of ETIAS.
ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) will be very similar to the ESTA visa waiver which many nationalities need to apply for to visit the United States.
Canadian travelers will need to apply for ETIAS online before going to any country in the Schengen Area.
How will ETIAS work?
ETIAS has been designed to improve the security of Europe following a string of terrorist attacks in recent years. Travelers will be screened and anyone who poses a security-risk will be identified and prevented from entering the Schengen Area.
The application form will be quick and simple to complete and the vast majority of applications will be approved within a few hours. To complete the application, travelers will have to enter a range of information including their name, address, date of birth, passport details, and health information.
There will also be a series of security-related questions. The information provided will be cross-checked against several databases including Interpol and Europol. To complete the application it will be necessary to pay a fee using a credit or debit card.
Traveling around the Schengen Area
Canadians will be able to travel to all 26 countries in the Schengen Area with ETIAS. The region has no internal, hard borders between the participating nations, only a singular, shared border. This means that travelers can move freely between the Schengen countries and this will not change in 2021.
List of countries in the Schengen Area
Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
How long will ETIAS visa waivers be valid for?
Approved ETIAS visa waivers will be valid for 3-year periods. They will allow travelers to enter any of the Schengen countries multiples times as long as the total number of days spent in the zone is not greater than 90 days in any 180-day duration.
If a passport expires before the three-year duration, the ETIAS visa waiver will also expire. The travel authorization will be attached to a specific passport and will be non-transferable. This means it will be necessary to apply for a new ETIAS if you get a new passport.
What will Canadians need to do to apply for ETIAS?
The application process will be straightforward. Applicants will just need to complete the online form and pay a fee using a credit or debit card.
To successfully apply, Canadians will need to have a valid passport. It will be essential not to enter any incorrect information as this could lead to delays or even rejections. Applicants will need to carefully revise all the entered information before submission.
Why is ETIAS being introduced?
The main aim of ETIAS is to strengthen the border security of the Schengen Area. The initiative was a response to an increasing number of terrorist attacks across Europe’s major cities. Paris, London, Brussels, Stockholm, Berlin, Manchester, Barcelona, and Marseilles are just handful of the places which have fallen victim since 2014.
By preventing anyone who poses a security-risk from entering the Schengen Area, ETIAS will make Europe a safer place for both locals and visitors. As well as reducing the risk of terrorist attacks, ETIAS will also aim to:
- Save travelers time and hassle
- Reduce irregular immigration
- Improve border management
- Reinforce the visa liberalization policy of the EU
When will ETIAS come into effect?
There are still some legal formalities to get past before ETIAS is implemented. The European Parliament has already approved the legislation so it’s just a case of due process.
The European Council still need to officially approve ETIAS and then the rotating Presidency of the Council will sign it into law. Although we don’t know the exact date, it is estimated that ETIAS will come into effect in 2021.
Further reading on travel in Europe
- 10 Essential Stops in South Bohemia, Czech Republic
- The Brienzer Rothorn via a Scenic Trip by Steam Train
- Hiking in Ireland: The West Coast Experience