Traveling to Europe is a bucket list dream for many people. For others, preparing for an upcoming trip to one of the countries in the Schengen Area is second nature.
No matter what your experience level is, if a trip to Europe is in your near future, it’s time to start thinking about the media’s latest buzzword: ETIAS.
First, let’s back up, because what we are really talking about is a change in entry requirements for member countries of the Schengen Agreement.
What is the Schengen Agreement?
The main goal of the Schengen Agreement is to create a borderless zone called the Schengen Area, where people can travel between member countries without passport checks or other border controls. This means that once you enter one Schengen country, you can travel to other Schengen countries without needing to show your passport again. What countries are part of the Schengen Area? Find out more at the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs website
So what is ETIAS?
The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is an electronic travel authorization system introduced by the European Union (EU) to enhance security and manage travel from visa-exempt third countries. ETIAS is designed to pre-screen travelers from countries that currently do not require a visa to enter the Schengen Area. The system aims to identify potential security risks and prevent unauthorized or unsafe travelers from entering the EU while still facilitating legitimate travel.
Who needs to apply?
Travelers from visa-exempt countries, including the United States, will be required to obtain an ETIAS authorization before traveling to any of the Schengen Area countries when ETIAS launches in 2024. Children, including infants, will also need to apply for an ETIAS, regardless of their age.
How do I apply?
Here's where it gets tricky. While ETIAS is all over our feeds right now, it is not yet in operation and therefore applications are not being collected as of this publication (July 2023). In fact, this is not a new concept at all.
We've been keeping our eyes on the ETIAS rollout for several years as the EU has been working to modernize their border management system. While it's been pushed back several times, this time is said to be the time.
Okay, fine, but how will it work when the application process does roll out?
When the official ETIAS website is ready to collect applications, it's said that the application process will include a security screening and a nonrefundable application fee of 7€. The whole process (including approval or denial) is expected to take about 15 minutes.
Most applicants who do not pose any security concerns will receive ETIAS authorization. This authorization will be linked electronically to the traveler's passport and will be (typically) valid for multiple short-term trips within a three-year period or until the expiry of the passport, whichever comes first.
The fine print.
Since this program has yet to launch officially, things can change.
In the meantime, it's important to note that ETIAS is not a visa. It is an authorization system aimed at streamlining the entry process for visa-exempt travelers. Travelers from countries that already require a visa to enter the Schengen Area will not be affected by ETIAS and will continue to follow the existing visa application process.
More fine print.
By being well-informed about these changes in advance, you can better prepare yourself for hassle-free travel while ensuring compliance with the new regulations set forth by the European Union. But, be mindful of your future travel plans and the potential impact of your ETIAS approval or denial on those plans.
How are you keeping clients informed about ETIAS compliance? Share in the comments!
About the Author:
Both Worlds Travel is a boutique Travel Agency based in Raleigh, North Carolina that provides thoughtfully curated, highly elevated travel experiences for busy executives and families. Owner Angie Brandt is an expert at crafting tailor-made itineraries for her clients and specializes in luxury ocean, river and expedition cruises.
Angie’s favorite travel memory is renting a sail catamaran in 2022 and spending a week in the Saronic Gulf with her husband, teenagers, and friends.