ETIAS visa waiver goes live May 2023

June 29, 2022

Currently, passport holders of more than 50 countries can enter the Schengen zone without a visa. Starting from May 2023, they will be required to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver before their trip. Learn what it is and how it will work.

ETIAS visa waiver for entering the Schengen zone

ETIAS stands for the “European Travel Information and Authorisation System”. It will go live in May 2023, and it will be relevant to third-country nationals who normally enter the Schengen zone without a visa and are planning a trip shorter than 90 days. Starting from May, they will be required to register online for a visa waiver before their trip, and they can continue their travel only if they receive the visa waiver, that is an email confirmation of the permission to entry.

This does not mean that you will need a visa from May on. The procedure is expected to enhance security within the Schengen zone via a background check of everyone entering, but it will be automatic and should be completed in a few minutes.

Entering ETIAS countries from ETIAS eligible countries

ETIAS countries mean the countries where you will need the visa waiver for entry. The list consists of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania as well as the normal members of the Schengen zone (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland).

ETIAS eligible countries means the countries the citizens of which can normally enter the Schengen zone without a visa. Currently there are more than 50 of them around the world, and the list is growing. Check the list of ETIAS eligible countries here.

ETIAS procedure

ETIAS visa waiver application will be possible online here. You will need your passport, a valid email address, and a bank card to pay the application fee. Although the form is already in place, the start date of application is not yet announced.

The application fee will be EUR 7.00 / person for adults, while it will be free of charge for minors under 18 years of age and the elderly over 70 years of age (however, this piece of information comes from an external site, and it still needs to be confirmed officially). In comparison, the U.S. charges ca. EUR 20 (USD 21.00) for the ESTA authorization, which works similarly.

During the registration, you will be asked to provide your full name, date of birth, and country of residency together with your passport details. You will be also asked a few questions regarding security and your health.

The data you submit will be checked against the ETIAS watchlist, as well as other databases including the SIS, VIS, ECRIS, and proposed EES. Processing should be automatic, but if there is a hit, the application will be reviewed manually. Even if there is a hit, you may be granted entry, depending on the reason why your name might have been listed. In line with this, it will make sense to register a few business days in advance to avoid delays caused by a hit during background check.

In line with this, it will probably be best if you apply for the ETIAS visa waiver at least a few working days before your planned trip. While the automatic process should go through in minutes, which technically makes it possible for you to register just before boarding your plane, if there is a hit and manual review is necessary, that might take some time, considering European working hours.

Consider if you need an ETIAS visa waiver

You will need an ETIAS visa waiver starting from May 2023 if you are planning to enter an ETIAS country, and if you hold a passport of an ETIAS eligible country.

  • If you are a citizen of an ETIAS country, you will need neither a visa nor a visa waiver to enter another ETIAS country, same as before.
  • If you are a citizen of a third-country that is not an ETIAS eligible country, you will need a visa, same as before.

Longer stays warrant for a residence permit

The ETIAS visa waiver will enable transit, tourism, and business trips to the Schengen zone and other ETIAS countries for stays up to 90 days. If you are planning a longer stay, you will need a residence permit, for which you can apply according to the rules of your country of destination.

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