2024 will mark a turning point in the history of travel to Europe. From that moment on - although it will start to be implemented by the end of 2023 - the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) will become a mandatory process for entering the Schengen area. ETIAS, however, can only be applied for by countries that are part of the visa waiver program of current or future Schengen Member States.

How the ETIAS will work, which states in particular are part of Schengen and from which ones it will be necessary to apply for the ETIAS, are the questions that we will solve in this article.

European travel information and authorization system

ETIAS is a new electronic method of authorizing travel to Schengen countries along the lines of ESTA in the US, or the respective methods used by Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, or Australia. Essentially, its purpose is to oblige nationals of countries that have a visa waiver agreement with Schengen to apply for a travel permit via the Internet.

In short, the ETIAS will be the ideal method to fulfill the requirements to enter Spain or Europe for business, leisure, or health reasons. The only conditions will be to come from a country that is part of the visa waiver program and to travel to a state that is part of the Schengen Agreement. Below, we explain which countries are part of each of these groups.

The Schengen Area

In a sense, ETIAS is the ultimate breakthrough in border policy for the countries that are part of the Schengen Agreement. Schengen was signed in 1985 and the goal of its original members - West Germany, France, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands - was to eliminate borders within the European Union. Since they couldn't do it at the EU level, they did it among themselves.

The fact is that the Schengen group expanded over time. First Italy joined in 1990. Then, in 1991, Spain and Portugal joined. Greece followed in 1992. And the Schengen Agreement has grown in size up to the present day, when 26 states are part of it and another four - Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus and Croatia - are obliged to do so when they meet the necessary conditions.

Countries that have access to ETIAS

In 2001, the countries belonging to the Schengen area agreed to create a list of states whose nationals would not need to apply for a visa to enter their territories. This group, to which other states have been added over time - as well as there have been some departures, such as that of Vanuatu - now totals 62 countries. It is precisely these 62 countries that will have access to the ETIAS from the end of 2023.

The reasons that have led these countries to benefit from a visa waiver agreement with the Schengen area are varied. These include reasons such as geopolitical importance or good relations with European countries -the case of the USA, Canada or Japan-, geographical and political proximity to the Old Continent -Great Britain-, or cultural ties with one of the Schengen member countries.

[IMG] ETIAS-map-which-countries-need-etias

In the latter case, for example, it is worth noting the influence of Spain and Portugal in gaining access to the visa waiver program and, therefore, to ETIAS for 15 countries in the Ibero-American world. These 15 countries are:

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • Colombia
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela.

There are certain requirements to be met. And for now, citizens of those states that are not part of the Schengen visa waiver program will not be able to apply for ETIAS, and will have to resort to the various short and long stay visas.

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