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Everything You Need to Know About ETIAS

Schengen Zone

If you are from the US and you are planning to travel to some parts of Europe in 2021, it might help for you to know a little about ETIAS. This acronym stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System. It is basically an authorization that allows you to enter countries that are considered within Schengen Zone. This was introduced in 2016 and is generally a security measure that aims to help keep the region safe.

For those who don’t know, the Schengen Zone consists of 26 European states. Sometimes called the Schengen Area, these are the countries that are members of this group:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • The Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • The Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

Why is there an ETIAS?

ETIAS was introduced to help keep the region safe from the threat of terrorism. This was stated by Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission in 2016 during his state of the nation address. This is to allow the countries who are within the Schengen zone to keep track of whoever goes in and out of its borders and to help monitor what they do. This security measure even screens those who apply for this authorization to determine if the individual is a threat to the region or not.

Apart from the security of those who live in the region, this measure is also put in place to safeguard travelers who enter these countries as well. If there are no external threats coming into these countries, both residents and visitors will be safer. Aside from these reasons, other motives cited for putting this system in place include the following:

  • Stop irregular migration
  • Enhance border management and monitoring
  • Allow travelers to move around the region with less hassle and to save them time when it comes to border procedures
  • Help fight terrorism and crime in the region

In short, this measure is put in place to ensure that whoever goes in and out of the EU will have safe and hassle-free travels within the region. It is even noted to be a huge benefit to travelers going to multiple countries in the region during their visit since it allows for freedom of movement without the need for hard checks at borders. This does not protect a traveler from flight delays and other problems that may stem from their moving around the region. When a flight delay occurs however, travelers can get flight delay compensation since the EU261 Compensation Regulations covers all travelers within EU.

The implementation of ETIAS can work to the advantage of frequent travelers however since it helps them get to their destinations faster, as long as there are no hitches when it comes to their flights. When flight delays occur, they can simply file a flight delay claim while they are inside the EU. For cancelled flights, flight cancellation compensation is what travelers are entitled to, whether they are EU residents or not.

Who Needs to Obtain ETIAS Authorization?

Those who are EU citizens are not required to get ETIAS authorization, but the citizens of around 62 countries have to apply for this in order to get into the countries in the Schengen Zone. More countries are marked for addition to this list and should be on it by the time the measure is implemented.

In general, the people who are obliged to get this authorization before traveling to Europe include everyone from minors to adults who will be traveling within the area either for business or pleasure. The application fees for those under 18 are waived while applicants between 18 and 70 will be required to pay the processing fee for their ETIAS waiver. The maximum number of days that a person can stay within the Schengen area with this authorization is 90 days.

Here is a list of the countries that will be required to apply for ETIAS:

Albania Hong Kong S.A.R* Saint Kitts and Nevis
Andorra Israel Saint Lucia
Antigua and Barbuda Japan Saint Vincent
Argentina Kiribati Samoa
Australia Macao S.A.R* Serbia
Bahamas Malaysia Seychelles
Barbados Marshall Islands Singapore
Bosnia and Herzegovina Mauritius Solomon Islands
Brazil Mexico South Korea
Brunei Micronesia Taiwan **
Canada Moldova Timor Leste
Chile Monaco Tonga
Colombia Montenegro Trinidad and Tobago
Costa Rica Nauru Tuvalu
Dominica New Zealand Ukraine
El Salvador Nicaragua United Arab Emirates
Georgia North Macedonia United States of America
Grenada Palau Uruguay
Guatemala Panama Vanuatu
Vatican City State Paraguay Venezuela
Honduras Peru

If a person is planning on studying or working in any of the countries within the zone affected by the ETIAS, they will have to apply for a visa that will allow them to stay longer there. This authorization is aimed at those who will be entering and staying in the region for short periods of time.

When Will I Need to Obtain an ETIAS?

If you are traveling in the next few months to EU, you don’t have to apply for this authorization just yet. This measure takes effect in 2021 but the ground work is being laid down for it now to ensure that it works without a hitch once it is officially implemented. If you are planning on traveling to the 26 countries within the Schengen Zone in 2021 and onwards, you will definitely have to apply for an ETIAS Authorization.

What Do I Need to Present to Apply for an ETIAS?

To get a permit to enter these 26 EU countries, all you need to do is to provide the basic requirements requested by authorities and to fill out the form that you can find online. These forms will have questions you need to answer, such as questions about your travel history, your health, and personal information. You will also be asked to answer questions about past criminal records, whether or not you’ve traveled to conflict zones, and if you have ever been asked to leave any territory that is part of the EU. You will need to provide a valid passport, a debit or credit card number where they will charge your ETIAS Fee once you’re approved, and your email address.

The forms that you fill out will be screened by authorities that can do background checks on you to ascertain if what you said in your application is true. Personnel from Europol and Interpol will assist in doing the screening to help guarantee that no undesirable visitors enter the borders of the Schengen Zone. Contrary to popular belief and despite all these requirements, the ETIAS is not a Visa since there is no interview process when you apply. It is a permit that allows you to move safely and freely within the 26 states of the aforementioned zone.

How Will the ETIAS Work?

The process of applying and use of the ETIAS when it is implemented is pretty simple. Here is how it will go:

  • A visa-exempt non-EU citizen (those coming from the countries listed above) will fill out the online form and provide the documentation need for processing
  • Applications are processed and information provided by applicants is checked for veracity. This is done by comparing information on the forms with what can be found on international databases.
  • The response to the application is then emailed to the applicant. This usually arrives within a few hours to a few days.
  • If a person’s application is declined, they are informed of the reason for this via email. This does not mean a person can never qualify for ETIAS. They simply have to appeal this decision. Replies to this should be made within 4 weeks of receipt of the email.
  • Once a passport has the ETIAS Authorization, it can be used multiple times for 3 years, or until the passport expires, whichever comes first.
  • When the system is implemented, travelers entering the zone will have their passports checked for their ETIAS Authorization. They can be denied boarding if they don’t have this.
  • Travelers’ passports will also be checked when they arrive at their destination for this same permit.

If you encounter problems with your flight before heading to any of the 26 countries in the zone or while traveling between these member states, you should be aware that you are entitled to EU flight compensation for whatever delays you encounter. You can receive up to €600 EU flight delay compensation if you experience lengthy delays between flights in Europe. You simply need to know what your rights are when you get to the EU. The flight compensation you get for these issues are due to the EU261 Regulations that protect travelers, both local and foreign, from the possible hassles that come with air travel.

These regulations help protect both locals and visitors from issues that arise when traveling. Whether it is to keep security high for everyone within the borders of the EU or to protect the rights of passengers to a flight claim and to get airline delay compensation for any inconveniences they experience in the area, the EU tries to ensure these. With the help of such regulations like the ETIAS and EU261, traveling to Europe will be safer and better for everyone involved.