The Schengen ETIAS Explained: Everything You Need To Know

Traveling to the European Union (EU) is about to become a lot more secure, thanks to the upcoming implementation of the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). This system, designed to monitor visitors from visa-exempt countries, is expected to be fully operational by 2024. But what exactly is ETIAS, and what does it mean for travelers planning to visit the EU? In this article, we delve into every aspect of ETIAS – its background, the reasons for its creation, who it affects, and how it will work.

What is ETIAS?

ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System. It is a completely electronic system that allows and keeps track of visitors from countries who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Zone. In a way, it resembles the U.S. Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which serves a similar purpose.

The legal procedures to pass the ETIAS started in 2016, and the system is expected to be fully operational in 2024.

The ETIAS will undergo a detailed security check of each applicant to determine whether they can be allowed to enter any Schengen Zone country. While citizens of countries who do not need a visa for travel purposes of up to 90 days in the EU do not need to go through a long process of applying for the visa, the ETIAS will make sure that these people are not a security threat. This travel authorization system will gather, keep track of, and update necessary information regarding visitors to determine whether it is safe for them to enter Schengen countries.

You might wonder how long the ETIAS is valid for once it is approved. The ETIAS might be valid for 3 years or until the end of the validity of the travel document registered during the application, whichever comes first. Whether you will get the first period of validity or the second depends on the system’s evaluation of your information.

The ETIAS, besides being used for business and tourist purposes, will also allow people to visit the Schengen countries for medical and transit reasons. In addition, it will be mandatory for all countries that are Schengen visa-free.

Schengen Area:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

Why is ETIAS Being Implemented?

The main reason for the approval of the ETIAS authorization is security. With the increased risk of travellers worldwide, the EU wants to ensure safe travel in its countries. The ETIAS will decrease security concerns substantially through its information and data-gathering systems. This means that the ETIAS will detect if a person is a threat in any way to the security of Schengen countries. This will lead to the person being denied entry and avoiding the threat of being present inside EU borders. It will basically deal with a problem before it is even there.

So how does ETIAS check my information?

The ETIAS will be connected to many databases which can verify your information within minutes. That is why it’s important for all applicants to give honest responses and not try giving false information. If you are caught giving fraudulent information to the ETIAS system, you will be denied authorization. In addition, if your ETIAS is approved, but you are later found with incorrect or false information, your ETIAS will be revoked.

However, besides making travelling more secure, the ETIAS authorization will also assist the EU countries and all travellers in the following ways:

  • Reduce procedures and application times
  • Improve the management of EU country borders
  • Assist in detecting and decreasing crime and terrorism
  • Impede irregular migration
  • Reinforce the visa liberalization policy of the EU

All in all, the ETIAS authorization will make travelling to the EU less of a hassle and a much safer experience.

Who Will Need ETIAS?

As mentioned, the ETIAS is for citizens of countries who can enter the EU zone visa-free. As such, there are 63 countries will need to get ETIAS authorization:

  • Albania
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brazil
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Dominica
  • El Salvador
  • Georgia
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Hong Kong S.A.R
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Kiribati
  • Macao S.A.R
  • Malaysia
  • Marshall Islands
  • Mauritius
  • Mexico
  • Micronesia
  • Moldova
  • 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
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

How Will the ETIAS System Work?

The ETIAS system will be simple to use and save time for applicants and processing. The only document you will need to apply for the ETIAS is your valid passport.

Upon submitting an ETIAS application, some travellers may be asked to submit additional documents.

Those who want to get approval will have to follow these steps to apply for ETIAS:

  • Filling out the application form
  • Submitting the application

The ETIAS application is expected to take about 10 minutes to fill out. It will be online, so you will not have to go through paperwork. Depending on your country of citizenship, it will present you with several fields to fill. You must give the following information:

  • Biometric information such as:
    • First name
    • Last name
    • Last name at birth
    • Date of birth
    • Place of birth
  • Information regarding your citizenship
  • Address
  • Email and phone number
  • Education and work experience
  • First EU country you intend to visit
  • Background and eligibility questions

For minors, the legal guardian must apply for ETIAS. For family members of EU citizens from other countries, you must submit proof of relationship, residence card, and other background information.

When you complete the application, you must pay and submit a fee of €7. The system will do the following:

  • Check if the information you gave was correct
  • Check your eligibility
  • Check your risk factors

You will be approved if what you filled out on the application form is correct, you are eligible and pass security checks for the ETIAS. This whole procedure is expected to be completed in only a few minutes.

However, certain cases might require extra time for processing the ETIAS application. Some applicants might be asked to submit extra documents, as the ETIAS National Unit of the Member State responsible may deem the information provided by the applicant insufficient.

But can you enter any EU country with ETIAS authorization? To use the ETIAS authorization correctly, you must first pass through the first country you stated in your application. If you were planning to go through Germany, Belgium, and Austria, and you stated in your application that the first country you will visit is Germany, you must go through Germany before you visit Belgium and Austria. After you enter your first country, you can visit any other country in the Schengen Zone for 90 days.

ETIAS For Visa-Free Countries

In case you are not eligible for the ETIAS, it means that you are not a citizen of the countries that can enter the EU without visas. This means that you must obtain a Schengen Visa to enter the EU countries.

But what if you already have a Schengen Visa? If you have a Schengen Visa then you will not need an ETIAS authorization. You can present your visa to the border authorities when you enter the Schengen Zone countries. When your visa expires, you can apply for the ETIAS if you are eligible.

An important note for British citizens – All UK nationals must apply for ETIAS travel authorization by 2024, when the scheme becomes fully operational. UK residents who are passport holders of one of the countries which do not have visa-free access to Schengen Area are not eligible to apply for an ETIAS despite their residency in Britain. They will instead have to apply for a regular Schengen visa.

You can enter the Schengen member states as many times as you want, for as long as your ETIAS is valid, and you have not stayed more than 90 days in a 180-day period.

ETIAS vs. Visa

The ETIAS is not a visa. Citizens of countries which have visa-free access to the Schengen Zone will continue to travel to the EU without a visa but will simply be required to obtain a travel authorization via ETIAS prior to their travel.

ETIAS will be a simple, fast, and visitor-friendly system, which will, in more than 95% of cases, result in a positive answer within a few minutes. An ETIAS travel authorization does not reintroduce visa-like restrictions. There is no need to go to a consulate to make an application, no biometric data is collected, and significantly less information is gathered than during a visa application procedure.

Whereas, as a general rule, a Schengen visa procedure can take up to 15 days and sometimes be extended up to 30 or 60 days, the online ETIAS application only takes a few minutes to fill in. The validity will be for a period of three years, significantly longer than the validity of a Schengen visa. An ETIAS authorisation will be valid for an unlimited number of entries.

For those who are used to the US system, you might wonder if ESTA and ETIAS are the same, and what their differences are. ESTA is the US equivalent of the EU ETIAS. While ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization, ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization.

You will not be able to enter the US with an ETIAS, just the same as an ESTA holder is not permitted to enter the EU without having an ETIAS or Schengen Visa. US citizens, which are permitted to enter Europe visa-free, starting from 2024, will have to obtain an ETIAS prior to their trip to the Schengen Zone.

If you are wondering whether you need an ETIAS if you already have a long-term visa from one of the Member States, the answer is no. Since a long-term visa issued by one of the member states gives you the right to move throughout the whole Schengen, you will not need to obtain a travel authorization for as long as you have the visa. For example, a resident in Germany will not require ETIAS since their current visa provides them with the benefit of travelling throughout the Schengen Zone.


In conclusion, the implementation of ETIAS from 2024 is an important advancement for secure and manageable travel within the Schengen Zone. The system, while introducing an additional step for visa-free travelers, ensures a straightforward, quick, and cost-effective process.

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