From 2024, visa-exempt travelers visiting the European Union (EU) will need to obtain an electronic travel authorization before departure. The new system, called ETIAS(European Travel Information and Authorization System) will enhance border security.
If you’re a Canadian citizen planning a European getaway in the summer of 2024, here’s everything you need to know about the ETIAS: how to get it, how much it costs, how long it’s valid and more.
What is ETIAS?
ETIAS is a new entry requirement for nationals of visa-exempt countries wishing to travel to the EU’s Schengen area. This is an electronic travel authorization that can be applied for online before departure for Europe. For low-risk travellers, the application is processed in just a few minutes.
Why was ETIAS introduced?
ETIAS was set up for several reasons. Firstly, it aims to reinforce security by enabling European authorities to better check travelers’ backgrounds. This will make Europe even safer for visitors.
What’s more, this system simplifies the entry process, avoiding long queues at border checkpoints. It complements visa waiver policies for citizens of 61 countries (including Canada). Finally, ETIAS enables the control of immigration and limit irregular migration.
Is the ETIAS a visa for visiting Europe?
The ETIAS is not a visa, but an electronic travel authorization. This system is designed to reinforce security at the European Union‘s borders and centralize the control of travel documents.
Canadians visiting the Schengen area for tourism, business or transit do not need a visa if their stay is less than 90 days. If your trip requires a visa (for study or work, for example), you’ll still need to obtain one. The ETIAS does not replace a visa for the Schengen area.
When does ETIAS start?
Although procedures to introduce ETIAS began in 2016, there is no official launch date yet. The website simply states that the program should be in place by 2024. We’ll keep you informed of developments.
What are the ETIAS requirements?
- You must be a citizen of one of the 61 visa-exempt countries to visit the European Union.
- Your passport must be valid for more than 3 months and must have been issued less than 10 years ago.
- You must have a valid e-mail address.
How do I obtain the ETIAS to travel within the Schengen area?
Obtaining an ETIAS travel authorization is a relatively straightforward process. Here are the steps to follow:
1. Fill in the online form
Visit the official ETIAS website and complete the online application. Please allow about 10 minutes to complete the form. You will need to provide this information:
- First name, last name, date of birth, place of birth
- Information about your citizenship
- Address, e-mail address, telephone number
- Education and work experience
- First EU country you plan to visit
- Questions about your itinerary and travel plans
- Questions about your background, such as health, criminal record, countries where you have been refused entry or deported.
- Questions about your history of visits to war-torn countries
- For family members of European citizens, you must provide proof of your relationship (birth certificate, marriage certificate) and other general information.
2. Pay application fee
ETIAS costs €7 for adults. It is free for people under 18 and over 70. Family members of European citizens are exempt from the fee.
Several payment options will be available, including credit card payment.
3. Wait for approval
Most requests will be processed within minutes, with a maximum turnaround time of 96 hours. You will receive your ETIAS at the e-mail address provided.
However, in some cases, applicants may be asked to provide additional information or documents, or even be invited to an interview with the national authorities, which could extend the processing time by up to 30 days.
It is advisable to obtain ETIAS even before you buy your plane tickets to Europe.
ETIAS terms and conditions
How long is the ETIAS valid?
The ETIAS will be valid for three years from the date of issue, unless your passport expires earlier. In this case, the ETIAS will expire on the same date as the passport. You can therefore use the same ETIAS for other stays in Europe during the validity period.
Which countries are covered by ETIAS?
ETIAS is applicable toSchengen countries plus a few other European countries. You can use a single authorization to travel to any country within its period of validity. A total of 33 countries will require ETIAS when it is introduced:
ETIAS is an important measure introduced by the European Union to strengthen border security while making travel easier for visitors. It takes just a few minutes to apply online, costs €7 and is valid for 3 years. Make sure you apply in advance to avoid any last-minute inconveniences and make the most of your trip to Europe.