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ETIAS Fact Check: What It Really Means for European Travel

ETIAS Fact Check: What It Really Means for European Travel © / unsplash

Heard of ETIAS but not sure what it is or how it will affect you? In this guide, we explain everything you need to know about the new entry permit and its impact on European travel.

We’ll fact check some of the things you might have read and explain the ETIAS application process. Let’s get started.

It Is Not a Result of Brexit

It’s important to understand that ETIAS is not a (direct) result of Brexit. Its creation isn’t connected to the UK’s departure from the European Union. The new visa waiver would have been launched even if the UK had never left the EU.

The European Union has created the visa waiver for all travellers who don’t need a visa for Europe. That includes passport holders from countries like the US, Japan, and Australia, not just the UK.

However, it is true that British citizens wouldn’t have needed ETIAS if Brexit hadn’t happened. When the United Kingdom left the EU, British passport holders became third-country citizens. The same rules now apply to travellers arriving in Europe with a British, US, or Japanese passport.

For this reason, as a UK passport holder, you’ll soon need the new entry permit when visiting European destinations.

It Is Not a Visa

British passport holders do not need a visa to go on holiday to France, Italy, or Spain. This isn’t about to change. The travel permit is not a visa, it’s an electronic travel authorization and will be much simpler to obtain.

The application process is 100% electronic, and you won’t need to go to an embassy or consulate. All you’ll need to do is fill out an online form with a few basic details.

The electronic visa waiver for the EU is similar to systems already in place in other parts of the world. Visa-free visitors need an ESTA to go to the United States, Canada also has an eTA.

Electronic travel authorizations make visa-free travel safer by running pre-departure security checks.

© Phil Mosley / Unsplash

Available, But Not Mandatory, from 2022

If you’ve read anything about ETIAS, you’ll know that it’s due to be launched in 2022. Whilst this is true, it won’t be mandatory to apply right away.

The launch date is currently set for the end of 2022 and there will be a 6-month implementation period. During this time applying will be recommended but not compulsory.

It will be valid for 3 years, though, so you might want to get ahead of the game and get yours as soon as applications open.

Whilst there are no specific dates yet, you’ll likely need ETIAS to travel by mid 2023.

You Will Have to Pay to Travel

It’s true that you’ll have to pay a fee to travel to Europe. It’s much cheaper than a traditional visa and won’t prevent you from travelling to Europe if you’re on a budget.

It’s worth pointing out at this stage that you’ll only need to apply once every 3 years (unless your passport expires sooner). You don’t need to pay every time you travel, just when you apply for the travel authorization.

You’ll pay securely online by card when submitting the online application.

© Pascal Meier / Unsplash

You Can Stay a Maximum of 90 days

Another fact is that you can now spend up to 90 days in Europe without a visa. This, however, is a result of Brexit, not of ETIAS.

Since free movement ended, the length of time Brits can stay visa-free has been capped to 90 days per 180-day period.

The visa waiver will be valid for multiple trips of up to 3 months. As mentioned above, the same permit can be used for 3 years or until your passport expires.

You’ll need to get a visa if you want to stay longer than 90 days or work in Europe.

One Permit, 26 Countries

Fortunately, you won’t need a separate authorization for each different country you want to visit. The same entry permit is valid for all the countries in the Schengen zone.

Your documents will be verified at the external border, you should then be able to move from country to country without further checks.

Thanks to this policy, you can visit several of your favorite European destinations, including France, Spain, and Greece, on one trip.

Remember that not every EU country is part of the Schengen Area, be sure to check your visa waiver will be valid everywhere you want to visit.

Applying Will Be Easy

If you’re imagining a long and complex application process, fear not. It will be quick and easy to apply. It’ll probably take no more than a few minutes to fill out the electronic application form, details you need to provide include your name, nationality, and date of birth.

You’ll also need to give passport details and answer a few health and safety questions. Once the new system has been launched, you’ll be able to travel to Europe safe in the knowledge that all visitors have undergone security checks.

Applications are processed automatically, and most people will receive a response within minutes.

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