European countries are often on top of a traveller’s bucket list of countries to check out. However, as the EU decides to launch the European Travel Information and Authorisation System in November 2023, there are bound to be some changes in the visa application process. Now, travellers from more than 60 countries who can travel to the Schengen Area without a visa will have to apply for travel authorisation to be able to enter any of the member states. However, with a lot of misinformation spread across the Internet, we have enlisted 9 things that you must know before the ETIAS system is launched on November 1, 2023.
1. Is ETIAS The Same As Visa?
When the European Union was still working on the EU regulations for ETIAS, several media and websites claimed that it was a new kind of visa! As a result, travellers from more than 60 countries now thought that they would need a visa to travel in the Schengen Zone. You must note that it is, in fact, not a visa but a visa waiver pre-screening programme under the EU visa-free programme.
As such, in 2019, the EU delegation to the United States responded to a tweet from a well-known American medium by pointing out that this is in fact equivalent to the US ESTA. The most important difference between the ETIAS and a Schengen Visa is that you need to make an appointment, procure a list of documents, attend an interview, and even pay quite a high fee for the latter. However, for ETIAS, it’s just a 10 minutes process!
2. The Domain Name For The Website Will Be ‘europa.eu’
As mentioned above, ETIAS is slated to be launched in November 2023. While there are several websites pretending to be the official ETIAS website or even resemble to be one, you must remember that the website has not yet been launched. European authorities are still working on it and once the website will be launched it will be and domain ‘europa.eu’. This means other websites popping up with endings like ‘.com,’ ‘.net,’ ‘.edu,’ etc., are not legit. The reason behind this domain name has been attributed to its EU visual identity to make it easier for users to identify it as an official EU website.
3. Schengen Visa Applicants Will Not Need ETIAS
It is worth noting that travellers from 100 countries currently needing a Schengen Visa to travel to any of the 27 Schengen Areas, for a short period will not need ETIAS. These could include travelling for the purposes of tourism, business, or even visiting a family member. In case a country gets visa liberalisation after the ETIAS comes into effect, then the applicants from that country will require an ETIAS instead of Schengen Visas.
4. It’s A Security Measure
One of the most popular misconceptions is that ETIAS is the revenge action by the EU for Brexit. It is, however, an attempt by the European Union to secure its borders after a wave of migrants reached here and attacks that have taken place all over the area. Not to mention, it is expected to reduce entry procedures at external borders while also reinforcing visa liberalisation policy.
5. Other Countries Also Follow A Similar Scheme
Several countries have similar schemes in place, like the US, Australia, and Canada. In fact, the EU is not the first or the last for introducing this scheme. As such, the US has operated on the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) since 2007. The fee for an ESTA application is US $4 and if approved an additional fee of US $17 is charged with the total rounding up to US $21. Australia is working on a scheme called Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) since 2013 costing AU $20.
6. Just A 10-Minute Application Process
ETIAS application process is much simpler than the same for a visa. As mentioned above, the procedure just takes about 10 minutes, which is pretty neat. Travellers will just have to fill in some information, upload a scan of their passport and photo, and it’s done!
7. A nominal Fee Of €7
As mentioned above, the fee charged for an ESTA application rounds up to about US $21 while the same for an ETIAS is just €7. It happens to be cheaper than all the other travel authorisation systems used by other countries. Moreover, travellers won’t have to procure an ETIAS every time they travel, they can use the same one until its validity expires.
8. The Same ETIAS Is Valid In the Schengen Area Until Its Validity
As an ETIAS, this can be used repeatedly until its validity lasts, and it’s worth mentioning that it will be valid for two years at first. However, in the case of travellers with passports expiring within two years after applying for an ETIAS, the validity of the first obtained ETIAS will be till the expiration of the passport. After the expiry of the first ETIAS, the second one will be valid for 5 years followed by 10, and so on.
9. An Operational Process Depends On The EES
Since the operation of an ETIAS is linked to the launch of Entry/Exit Systems (EES), this has been done to enhance the security of the Schengen Area. EES is a large-scale IT system that will replace visa stamping and will be implemented as part of the Smart Borders Package introduced by the EU in 2016. Not to mention, it will play an intrinsic role in Schengen visa applications. And authorities responsible for issuing them shall consult EES while processing visa applications.
So, keep these things in mind while applying for an ETIAS when you plan to travel to a Schengen Area next!
Cover Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons