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 beginning 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. 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. What does it mean for your hopes of traveling to the EU next year? Read on to find out.
What Is ETIAS?
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.
How to Get an ETIAS Application?
If you’re a citizen of a country eligible for an ETIAS visa waiver, you can apply online by filling out and submitting the registration form. Keep in mind that you will need a valid passport to successfully apply for an ETIAS visa waiver. Depending on your destination country and your country of origin, ‘valid passport’ may mean that the expiry date is at least six months past the date of your return home.
Do Schengen Area Visitors Need an ETIAS Visa Waiver?
Starting in 2024, citizens from eligible countries traveling to one of the 26 countries in the Schengen Area will need to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver if they want to continue to travel in the Schengen Area visa free. Travelers with Schengen Area visas can travel within all 26 countries freely. Though, they should be prepared to present their visas at the borders.
How Does the 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 can be filled out in as little as 10 minutes. However, you may be asked for additional documentation. If that happens, the approval could take up to a month. So be sure to factor that in when you’re planning your trip. The application itself 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.
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
- Thwart illegal migration
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.
ETIAS & Travel Insurance
If you need a Schengen visa, you’ll also need travel insurance that meets specific policy maximum and coverage requirements. Fortunately, VisitorsCoverage offers several top-rated travel insurance plans that are designed specifically to meet the requirements of Schengen Area visits.
If you’re ready to buy travel insurance or just have a few questions, our Customer Success Team is happy to help.