US and Canadian citizens have the privilege of visiting many European countries in the world without a visa or with visa on arrival. However, things will be changing very soon, as far as Europe is concerned. As per new travel regulations by The European Union (EU), from the year 2021 onwards, Americans will need European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) to visit The Schengen Area in Europe.
Let’s take a look at what ETIAS is, its relevance, and how you can apply for
What Is ETIAS
ETIAS is a type of travel authorization which will soon be a mandatory requirement for visiting the Schengen Area in Europe. It was proposed by the European Commission in 2016 to protect the interests of both locals and tourists due to terrorist attacks and other security concerns.
Though it is not a visa, it is similar to Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), Canadian eTA (electronic travel authorization) and the Australian eTA which are travel authorizations for people visiting the US, Canada, and Australia, respectively.
Until 2021, Americans and Candaians and tourists from other ETIAS eligible countries will be able to travel anywhere in Europe for up to 90 days without needing a visa. From 2021 onwards, they will need an ETIAS travel authorization by filling in an online application form and paying a nominal service fee.
Before they fly to any of the listed countries, their personal details will be screened by the concerned officials to check if their visit would cause any possible security, health, or migration risk. The ETIAS travel authorization comes with a validity of three years. This can be renewed subsequently.
The Schengen Area And The Schengen Agreement
The Schengen Area comprises of 26 European countries The countries that signed the Schengen Agreement way back in 1985 agreed to get rid of the internal border policy and have a common visa. Below listed are the Schengen area member countries:
How To Apply For ETIAS Authorization
The application process just takes hardly 10 to 20 minutes. Around 95% of the cases will be given automatic approval once the application is completed and submitted successfully.
ETIAS Application – Documents Needed
If you are planning to apply for ETIAS, you will need the following:
- A passport which is valid for a minimum 3 months from the date of arrival
- A credit/debit card to pay the application fee
- An email address where you will receive your ETIAS authorization and other important emails related to ETIAS.
Visit ETIAS’ official website if you wish to be notified when the online visa will be available.
ETIAS Application – Information You Are Required To Furnish
You will be asked to furnish important personal details, such as your name, date of birth, place of birth, country of birth, gender, nationality, passport details (issuance details and date of expiry), temporary and permanent addresses, phone number, email address, Member State of intended first entry, education details, and employment details.
There are also a set of security questions which you need to answer as a part of the application. These will be related to terrorism, human trafficking, the use of drugs, travel to conflict areas, criminal history, employment history, information related to previous visits to Europe, and security information.
If you are a family member of a European citizen who doesn’t require residence cards, you will have to furnish details explaining the relationship you have with the EU citizen.
For your application to be successful, you just need to have a valid passport. You won’t be asked to furnish any other documentation until requested. A third party can also submit your application form on your behalf.
Once you submit the filled application form, you will have to pay the service charge. Your application will then be assessed by the concerned team and approved if there are no problems with your form.
If you have provided any incorrect information in our application form, your application could be rejected and you might not be able to travel to the Schengen Area.
At times, due to security concerns, the officials might ask you to provide some additional documentation within 96 hours. The concerned member country can take up to 4 weeks to review your application. If it is still rejected, you have the option to appeal against the decision.
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