Everything you need to know about ETIAS

Europe is one of the most-visited regions in the world. Travelers from all over the world are drawn to the many countries that make up the European Union (EU) for the diverse cultures and cuisines, the historical architecture, and the iconic natural wonders. However, there are safety risks. Travel medical insurance and benefits like emergency evacuation can help keep you physically safe and financially sound in the event of a medical emergency or political unrest.
Other security measures, like strengthening borders, can help travelers feel even more secure as they take in the sights. Due to ongoing terrorist activity, the EU has taken steps to protect its borders. This means that as early as next year, travelers who didn’t require a visa to visit the EU will now be subject to Europe Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) protocols. What does it mean for your hopes of traveling to the EU next year? Read on to find out. 


What Is ETIAS and Who Does It Impact? 

The Europe Travel Information and Authorization System is a way for the EU to track who crosses into its countries and for what purposes. The overall goal of ETIAS is to reduce terrorism within the EU member countries. The ETIAS isn’t a visa. Rather, it’s a system for registering those who enter EU countries without visas. This includes citizens from the U.S., Canada, and 60 other countries around the world. When the ETIAS registration goes into effect in 2022, travelers from countries that aren’t required to get a visa to visit the EU will be required to register through the ETIAS prior to arriving in the EU. Following Brexit, British citizens will also be required to register through the system. Travelers from countries that do require a visa will not be impacted by ETIAS. 


How Will ETIAS Work?

Basically, visa-exempt non-EU citizens will spend about 10 minutes filling out an ETIAS registration form well in advance of their trip. This will require a small fee (about €7) for most applicants. The application consists of personal identification data, your travel documentation, questions related to your EU visit (e.g. name of your first-stop country) and, finally, background information. Next, you’ll receive either an acceptance or refusal. An acceptance comes with a travel authorization that will align with the expiration date on the travel documentation provided in the application. Authorization could be applicable for up to three years. ETIAS applicants who receive a refusal means that they either submitted inaccurate information, provided expired documentation, or have something else in their application that was deemed a security threat to Schengen area countries. Applicants do have the right to appeal a refusal. If traveling in the EU by plane, ship or train, your ETIAS status will be checked by the carrier before boarding.  


What if I Forget to Register with ETIAS? 


Borders for EU countries will have kiosks where you can apply to the system. For most applicants, approval only takes minutes. On the chance that your application does take longer to process, though, it’s better to apply in advance of your trip rather than waiting until the last minute.   


Why is the EU Using ETIAS?

The main reason for the EU to use a registration system like ETIAS is to reduce terrorist threat to the Schengen area. However, there are a number of secondary benefits for both the EU and travelers to the area: 


  • Improve efficiency at EU member-country borders
  • Assist in detecting and decreasing crime, in general
  • Thwart illegal migration


Ultimately, the ETIAS is designed to protect both EU citizens and EU visitors. Much like travel insurance, the system will make it safer and easier to travel freely. Ten minutes online and a small fee up front can give you all the peace of mind you need to enjoy your long-awaited EU adventure. 


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