In the near future, the rules about travelling in Europe are changing. Currently, if you live within certain countries in Europe, there are benefits. But there is a new system being rolled out to make it easier for the majority to get around. The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS VISA) is due to begin in 2021.
The current system
There is a core group of countries in Europe known as Schengen countries. There are 26 of them, 22 in the EU, from Estonia to Switzerland. If you are a citizen of one of these countries travelling to another, just like 400 million EU citizens, you have the benefit of free travel. If youre from another 62 other countries, some in and some outside of Europe, all you require is a Schengen VISA. It is a less rigorous travel document for those on shorter and more regular journeys. For those not included in the first 2 categories, a full VISA is required. This is where the ETIAS VISA waiver comes in.
So whats new with the ETIAS VISA waiver?
This current system is set to change in the next couple of years. There will be a new system known as the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). Its an electronic system to keep track of travelers through EU borders but that dont need a VISA. Its main function is enhanced security. For several years, certain countries have been allowed relaxed travel rules based on a system of trust and strong security history. It is a system that resembles the U.S. VISA waiver known as an ESTA. Itll be the first system in Europe that encourage travellers to apply for authorisation prior to a journey. And that wont be the only change.
It is thought that this new system will also have the following benefits:
- Reducing procedure and application times
- Improving the management and security of EU country borders
- Assisting in the detection of crime and terrorism, and aiding its decrease.
- Slowing/stopping irregular migration
- Reinforcing the visa liberalisation policy of the EU
What to expect going forward
There is currently an assembled list of countries that will benefit from the new ETIAS model, which you can see here. More are expected to be added as time goes on. A full account of the current ETIAS process can also be found here.
The plan is for an ETIAS VISA waiver document to be eligible for a period of 3 years and to allow travel of up to 90 days to any Schengen member country. It also allows travel as many times as desired within this 3 year period. This means you won;t have to re-apply each time you want to travel to the desired countries. This is very similar to the ESTA VISA waiver for the USA presently.
It will be as simple as filing our a 10 minute form online and then you will be approved soon after. Expect this system to make travel the Europe easier in the future starting 2021.