ETIAS: Electronic "Visas" to be Introduced for Visa-Free Countries Traveling to the EU in 2024


ETIAS: Not a Visa, but an Essential Addition

EU flag on keyboard and lock

In 2024, the European Union (EU) will implement new rules requiring citizens of visa-free countries, including Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia, to obtain an electronic travel authorization known as ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System). Although not a traditional visa, this electronic authorization will become a prerequisite for entry into 30 European countries, except for Ireland, for travelers from visa-free nations. This article explores the upcoming changes, the application process, and its impact on travelers.

Approximately 1.5 billion people from 60 countries currently enjoying visa-free status with the EU will need to apply for the ETIAS authorization before entering 30 European countries (excluding Ireland). The ETIAS is not a traditional visa but rather a complementary addition to the visa-free regime. Similar systems exist in the United States, Canada, and Australia for visa-exempt visitors. Travelers can apply for ETIAS through the official website or mobile application for a fee of 7 euros, with exemptions for certain age groups and family members of EU citizens. The authorization will be valid for three years and will allow multiple entries, each of which can last up to 90 days within any 180-day period.

Application Process and Required Information

The ETIAS application process requires applicants to provide personal details, such as name, date of birth, nationality, address, parents' names, email, and phone number. Additionally, educational and employment information, as well as detailed travel plans within the EU, must be included. The application will inquire about criminal history, past travels to conflict zones, and extradition experiences. However, fingerprint submission, health-related information, and vaccination records are not required for the application. Applicants under 18 or over 70 years old, as well as family members of EU citizens and certain non-EU residents, are exempt from the application fee.

Applicants should be cautious of fraudulent websites that may attempt to deceive them with false information or illegally use EU symbols. It is advised to apply only through official channels. The majority of ETIAS applications will be processed within minutes, but it may take up to 14 days if additional information is needed, and up to 30 days if an interview is required. Therefore, applicants are encouraged to apply well in advance of their intended travel dates to avoid any delays. Upon approval, applicants will receive a confirmation email with a unique identification number and a subsequent email with the application results. It is essential to ensure the accuracy of personal information and passport details, as mistakes could lead to entry issues.

The introduction of the ETIAS system in 2024 will impact citizens of visa-free countries traveling to the EU. Travelers should be aware of the new requirements and apply for ETIAS in a timely manner to ensure seamless journeys to their European destinations. With proper preparation and adherence to the official application process, travelers can navigate the changes effectively and enjoy their trips to the EU with ease.