The ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) was created to protect the security of the European Union’s Schengen Area (click this link for more information), which allows passport-free travel within many European countries. If you plan on travelling to any country in the Schengen Area, you must apply for an ETIAS before your trip, unless you’re from one of several EU countries (and some non-EU countries) that are exempt from applying. This includes Americans and Canadians who will be visiting Europe as tourists or business travellers. Here are some of the most important things to know about applying for ETIAS.
All You Need to Know About Applying for ETIAS
What Is ETIAS?
The European Travel Information and Authorization System, or ETIAS, is a European Union (EU) travel authorization that will come into effect on June 29, 2017. It’s meant to be a travel security system used by citizens of countries who are visa-exempt but want to travel to Europe. It’s comparable with other existing programs like ESTA in America and eTA in Canada; however, it differs from these systems in that there are no fees associated with applying.
How Does It Affect Canadians?
Canadian citizens and residents are exempt from EU country-specific visa requirements, including ETIAS. Canadian travellers only need a passport or NEXUS card for entry.
How Do I Apply For ETIAS?
Before you can apply for ETIAS, you will need to have an eligible travel document. If you are a citizen of one of the listed countries on their platform, use your national ID card as your passport when travelling in Europe. When applying for ETIAS, be prepared with your valid passport and a digital photo on a USB stick (JPEG or PNG format). Registering online is quick and straightforward, but applicants from Japan must first submit their fingerprints at an EU embassy in Tokyo before they can register.
The Application Process
The application itself is short and painless, though you may want a small break after you get through it all. It’s mandatory that travellers provide their fingerprints as part of the application process, which can be done at an official facility—and costs $20 or less. Your fingerprints are scanned, digitally encoded and sent to both U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and European authorities.
So I Applied. Now What?
If you applied from outside of Europe, you should receive a response within 72 hours. If your application is approved, and if you are staying in Europe for less than 3 months and not going to work, study, or otherwise reside in another EU country, you’ll receive an email that indicates that your electronic travel authorization has been issued. In some cases, travellers will be asked to print out their Electronic Travel Authorization using specific software and bring it with them when they arrive at their destination in Europe.
A Few Other Things to Consider
Before you apply, here are a few more things you should know. ETIAS is open to any EU country except Ireland and Cyprus, so your passport must be from one of those countries (and it has to be valid at least three months beyond your planned visit). If you’re not a citizen of an EU country, or if your passport has expired (or will have expired by your trip), then you can apply for an ETIAS exemption or use another approved document instead. Keep in mind that some countries require visas in order to enter them — even if they’re part of the Schengen area — so check before applying.