The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) will soon come into force, which means that Canadians will need the document to travel to certain European countries.
ETIAS will “identify the security, irregular migration or high epidemic risks” of visa-exempt visitors traveling to Schengen countries.
The Schengen area is a bloc of European countries that have agreed to create common entry and exit conditions so that foreigners can travel freely between nations without going through border controls.
According to the federal government, the countries are Austria, Belgium, 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 and Switzerland.
Canadians do not need a visa to travel to countries in the region for stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period, which means travelers from this country will need ETIAS.
So let’s see how the travel authorization system that will soon come into effect works!
What is the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS)?
According to European Councilwho is responsible for the system, ETIAS is a travel document that allows people to enter certain European countries.
This aims to “strengthen security checks” of people who can travel visa-free to the European Union.
It applies to visa-exempt non-EU citizens, including Canadians.
Additionally, travel authorization will be a mandatory prerequisite for travelers wishing to enter the region.
ETIAS will be a mainly automated computer system to “identify any security or irregular migration risks” of visa-exempt visitors traveling to the Schengen area and facilitate border crossings for those who do not present risks.
Having visa-exempt non-EU citizens checked against this travel system before entering countries should avoid delays for travelers and reduce the number of entry refusals at border crossings.
How do you get ETIAS?
Non-EU citizens who do not need a visa to travel to the Schengen area, including Canadians, will need to apply for travel authorization through the ETIAS program before their trip.
Travelers will be able to complete an application online via a dedicated website or smartphone app.
Completing the ETIAS application online should take no more than 10 minutes and responding to most applicants whether or not they have been approved takes minutes.
However, the whole process could take up to 30 days in “very exceptional cases”.
Some of the information you will need to submit includes personal details, a travel document like a passport, and the country you plan to stay in.
You can submit an application for another person, but then you must provide information about the identity of the person you are applying for.
How much does it cost?
Payment will be required for all applicants between the ages of 18 and 70.
This fee of €7 must be paid for each application submitted and must be paid electronically.
Although currency conversions change over time, €7 currently equals CA$9.22.
What happens at airports and land borders?
When traveling to Europe by plane, air carriers will be responsible for checking the status of all travel documents required to enter the Schengen area, which include a valid ETIAS.
This also applies to ocean carriers and the check should be done before boarding the plane or boat.
When you enter a country that is part of the Schengen area by land at a border post, the border guards electronically read the data from your travel document.
If no valid ETIAS is found, border guards will refuse entry. If you have a valid travel authorization, you will be allowed entry.
In addition, at land borders, you can make ETIAS application requests at kiosks.
When does it start?
The European Council expects the ETIAS program to be operational by 2023.
According CNNit will be officially launched in May this year.
Currently it is not operational and no request for travel authorization is accepted.
Once a date has been set for travelers to start applying for the travel document, it will be posted on line on the website of the European Council.
How long is ETIAS valid?
After obtaining ETIAS, it is valid for a period of three years or until the expiry date of the travel document.
During this time, you can use it for an unlimited number of entries into European Schengen countries.
Before you go, check out our responsible travel guide to be informed, be safe, be smart, and above all, be respectful on your adventure.