In 2018, the European Parliament agreed to the establishment of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). This electronic visa system will carry out pre-screening for both security and migration risks for travelers who currently benefit from visa-free access to the Schengen area. Originally meant to go into effect in 2021, the ETIAS program was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is now set to be fully operational by the end of 2022.

Travelers from the 60 eligible, currently visa-free countries* will be required to present an ETIAS visa waiver in order to enter one of the ETIAS countries once the program is in force at the end of this year. An ETIAS visa waiver must be applied for prior to travel; once granted, it is valid for up to three consecutive years – or up to the expiration of the applicant's current passport. The ETIAS application requires travelers to hold a valid biometric passport and submit an application providing personal, family, and nationality details, as well as answering questions relating to travel, criminal, and employment history along with other security information. Applicant information is checked against internal EU security databases such as Interpol, Europol, and the Schengen Information System (SIS). Approved applications are tied to an individual's passports, and while applicants should retain their approvals for their personal records, travelers will not be required to present the approval upon arrival in a Schengen country.

The ETIAS visa waiver program is based on (and similar to) the American ESTA and Canadian eTA systems, and according to the experience of those systems approximately 95% or more of all ETIAS applications will be approved, with that approval communicated to applicants shortly after submission. The ETIAS visa waiver program will not require the collection of fingerprints and other biometric data. This program will cover the approximately 30 million yearly visitors to the EU, allowing them to be screened in advance to ensure no one entering the Schengen area poses a health, security, or migration risk.

In light of Brexit, it has been confirmed that British citizens will be eligible for the ETIAS visa waiver program and will be required to obtain an ETIAS waiver in order to enter any of the ETIAS countries. As with all other countries whose citizens must hold an ETIAS visa waiver, British citizens may only remain in the Schengen area for a maximum of three months with the ETIAS waiver (for longer stays, a tourist, study, or business visa is required).

The EU expects the ETIAS visa waiver program to be fully in force by the end of 2022, with a six-month adjustment period starting mid-year.


*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, Israel, Japan, Kiribati, Macao, North Macedonia, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. 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, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela.

Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Lithuania, Latvia, San Marino, Estonia, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Greece, Czech Republic, Malta, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Vatican City, Andorra.

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