The new European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS Visa Waiver) will be implemented at the end of 2022. Here’s what you need to know about how it will affect your travel plans.
Europe is making use of the latest technology to innovate the visa and passport control processes for all those who wish to visit the Old Continent.
With the introduction of smart gates at the airport, electronic passports, and new online visa applications, it’s getting easier and fastest to have your documents for a trip to Europe approved in minutes — and checked in seconds.
The visa innovation project will also allow Schengen countries to have better control over their external borders and fight serious international crimes like identity theft.
The new European Travel Information and Authorization System (also called ETIAS Visa Waiver) is part of this initiative and will be implemented at the end of 2022. Keep reading to find out how it will affect your travel plans.
Traveling to Europe Visa-Free with ETIAS
Although the Schengen authorities wish to strengthen security at the border, they do not want to make it harder for tourists to visit all that Europe has to offer. Millions of people choose Europe for their holidays each year, and as many as 13.6 million workers are employed in the sector. That’s why it’s unlikely that visa statuses will change due to ETIAS.
ETIAS is not a visa and is designed to make things easy for holidaymakers. In fact, it’s a visa waiver, meaning that it’s an authorization designed to allow eligible travelers to enter the Schengen Area without having to obtain a visa permit beforehand.
By registering with the ETIAS visa waiver system, eligible tourists will be able to visit as many as 30 European countries without a single visa application.
How Do I Get an ETIAS Visa Waiver for Europe?
The system isn’t live yet but will be launched at the end of 2022. Then, non-EU nationals will just need to connect to the internet in order to apply. Yes, the ETIAS registration can be completed from anywhere in the world (including your home or office, or even on the go) as long as the applicant has access to a reliable internet connection.
This means no embassy appointments, no long paperwork, no queues. Everything is done electronically.
Travelers will be able to submit their ETIAS request in minutes by filling out an application form. The online questionnaire is pretty straightforward and includes questions about the applicant’s personal and passport details as well as contact information and travel plans. Supporting documents (such as a copy of the passport that will be used to enter the Schengen Area) will also be uploaded electronically.
Processing times are going to be very fast. As long as you fill the online form in all of its parts, you will receive the approved ETIAS within a few days or even hours, directly in your email inbox.
Will I Need an ETIAS to Travel to Europe in 2022?
This depends on your visa status. If you are a non-EU citizen or resident and currently don’t need a visa for Europe, it’s very likely that you will have to obtain an ETIAS from 2022. Over 60 nationalities will be eligible to apply for the new program, including countries such as the U.S., Australia, and Canada.
Those who now need a Schengen visa may see the ETIAS system extended to their country too in the future but that is not guaranteed.
There is no need to worry or rush. The European authorities have announced that even though ETIAS will be implemented in late 2022, there will be a grace period during which travelers who are found without the visa waiver at the border or within the Schengen territory will only be informed that they will need it in the future, and it will take some time for the registration to be 100% mandatory.
When that happens, failing to register prior to departure may cause you to be refused entry into the Schengen zone.
Daniel Moore is an experienced content writer. He is associated with many renowned travel blogs as a guest author where he shares his valuable travel tips with the audience.