What is the ETIAS travel authorisation and who needs it?

The new ETIAS electronic authorization to visit the Schengen zone in Europe, which is planned to come into effect in January 2021, will be applicable to travellers coming from countries whose citizens and legal residents are not required to get a Schengen visa. For the time being and until then, these visitors are allowed to enter Schengen countries as tourists or business travellers without any travel permit as long as their stay does not exceed ninety days; however, once the ETIAS comes into force, the background and records of such travellers will be checked online and they will be issued an electronic authorisation to travel around Europe within the aforementioned area for up to three years.

If you have been issued a Schengen visa in the past, or if you know for certain that your country is on the list comprising those whose citizens are required to apply for a visa to travel to Europe, then you are not eligible for the ETIAS. That being the case, your Schengen visa will already entitle you to visit the countries you have specified for the time estimated according to your unique circumstances and travel purpose.

So, who will need the ETIAS authorisation to travel to Europe?

If you want to travel to Europe and visit countries in the Schengen zone, you will only be required to apply for the ETIAS authorization if you come from Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, El Salvador, Georgia, Grenada, Guatemala, Vatican City State, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Kiribati, Macao, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, New Zealand, Nicaragua, North Macedonia, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Samoa, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Taiwan, Timor Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, USA, Uruguay, Vanuatu and Venezuela.

And which countries can be visited with an ETIAS authorisation?

After getting authorised by the ETIAS system you will be able to enter any country in the European Schengen zone: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Bear in mind that applying for the ETIAS prior to your trip will be mandatory if you intend to enter the Schengen area in Europe and you are a national of a country to which this new regulation applies.

Also, it will be of vital importance that you specify the first country you will be visiting on your trip when filling out the ETIAS application form. That is, if you are visiting Iceland first, then continuing on to Budapest in Hungary or to Berlin in Germany, this will be registered by the immigration office and modifying this itinerary without notice might cause you trouble. Also, make sure you check whether every city you want to visit in Europe belongs to the Schengen zone: Lisbon in Portugal, for instance, is within the Schengen area, but the fact that a country belongs to Europe or is a member of the European Union does not necessarily mean that it is a Schengen one.

How to apply for the ETIAS travel authorisation to visit Europe?

The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) has been designed to detect travellers who should not be allowed to enter Schengen countries in Europe for whatever reason, and enable the rest to freely access the area and travel within its borders for up to three years. As stated above, this only applies to visitors that are citizens of countries which have enjoyed visa-free admission into the Schengen zone until now (see list).

Should you find out that you need to get the ETIAS authorisation, get online while planning for your trip and fill out the form available on the official website. You will be asked for personal info like your full name, place of birth, date of birth, current address, contact information, education and training, professional career and the first Schengen country you will be travelling to. Minors cannot complete these fields, their parents or guardians must do it instead.

After submitting your personal and travel info, a screen requesting your debit or credit card details will appear; the application fee will be 7 euros, and once the payment is processed it will just take a few minutes for the resolution to be given.