Starting in 2022, travelers planning to visit Europe will need to apply for the ETIAS. Learn more about the program and its importance here.
Europe to have its own visa: What is the ETIAS program and why is it important?
Starting from 2022 onward, citizens of more than 60 countries around the world will need to apply for the new ETIAS visa waiver before they are allowed to travel to Europe.
The ETIAS, better known as the European Travel Information and Authorisation System, was inspired by the ETAS system popularized by the United States. The ETIAS program determines the eligibility of visitors to enter participating European countries for tourism, business, transit, or medical purposes on a short-term basis (i.e. under 90 days).
Although Tanzania is not currently part of the ETIAS, it may be in the future. For now, interested travelers can check here for the list of currently eligible countries.
The history of the ETIAS
The ETIAS was an idea originally introduced by the European Commission in the middle of 2016 as a better way to improve security for both Europeans and visitors.
The ETIAS works by having all potential travelers input their information into an online application form, which is then automatically processed against EU and Interpol databases to determine whether the traveler is permitted to enter or not. Thanks to this program, the EU can seamlessly manage borders, prevent cross-border crime, and restrict terrorism.
After negotiations with the European Parliament and the Council, the ETIAS visa waiver program was officially adopted at the end of 2018.
Although the ETIAS system is expected to be launched on January 1st, 2022, it will only be obligatory for travelers to have by the end of 2022. Citizens of eligible countries currently include the United States, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, and Timor Leste, among others.
What are the benefits of the ETIAS?
The introduction of the ETIAS will have a multitude of benefits for both the European Union as well as the travelers who are coming to visit.
For instance, ETIAS travel authorization benefits the European Union by keeping tabs on and preventing illegal immigration; protecting the border and improving security by individually examining each traveler’s application; and saving countless hours of processing time for border officials by getting rid of certain beauraucratic visa processes.
Likewise, travelers can also enjoy plenty of benefits by applying for the ETIAS.
First and foremost, the ETIAS visa waiver will improve the efficiency of the application process.
Some citizens had to spend an entire day traveling to their nearest embassy, gathering paperwork, and having an in-person interview before being approved for a travel authorization.
With the ETIAS, applicants simply fill out the online application form, pay the small fee, and in less than 20 minutes they’re all set. Best of all, the entire process can be done completely online and in the comfort of one’s home!
Once at the border, travelers will save time while waiting in queues because pre-screened ETIAS holders will breeze through immigration control.
The ETIAS is valid for 3 years from the date of issue or until the holder’s passport expires (whichever comes first). This gives travelers plenty of time to visit their favorite destinations — or explore new ones!
Finally, those who have a valid ETIAS are allowed to stay in the 30 ETIAS-specific countries for a maximum of 90 days within a 180 day period. The ETIAS visa waiver is valid for the purposes of business, travel, medical tourism, and transit to other countries, which opens up a world of opportunities.
What the ETIAS application process looks like
All eligible travelers who wish to obtain the ETIAS can do so by filling out an online application form.
There are only a handful of requirements that are needed to fill out the application: a valid passport with 3 months’ validity, a valid credit or debit card to pay the processing fee, and an email address to receive the approved ETIAS.
The form asks basic questions regarding the traveler’s personal information (such as their first and last name, date of birth, and gender); passport information (serial number, nationality, issue and expiration date); and contact information (email address, phone number, and home address).
Once the form is filled out and paid for, the ETIAS will take just a few minutes to process in most cases.