The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is a new visa waiver program that Schengen countries will make mandatory as of November 2023. That is, from that date, ETIAS will be the indispensable requirement to enter Europe without a visa of any kind.
Of course, not every traveler will be able to enter Schengen countries with ETIAS. To do so, you must be a citizen of one of the countries that have visa waiver agreements with the members of the Schengen Agreement.
Which countries will be able to apply for the new European travel authorization system, what the application process will be like, how much it will cost and, in short, all the questions that may arise regarding the ETIAS are what we will try to answer in this article.
Citizens of which countries can apply for ETIAS
The list of states that will request ETIAS from tourists wishing to enter their territories is clear: the 27 EU countries - except Ireland - and we must add Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican City. In other words, ETIAS is the visa-free entry system for the Schengen countries and those - such as Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus or Croatia - that are obliged to join it in the future. However, the set of states that will have access to this visa waiver program is somewhat broader and subject to change.
Currently, the complete list of countries whose citizens will be able to apply for ETIAS consists of 62 states. But this number will vary over time, and is likely to increase as well as decrease.
There are several reasons that the Schengen area will take into account when including a country on its visa exemption list. Its geopolitical relevance, good relations with the issuing countries -the case of the USA, Canada, or Japan-, the security and reliability of its borders -New Zealand-, geographical and political proximity to Europe -the case of Great Britain-, or cultural ties with one of the Schengen member countries.
In the case of Latin America, which would fall into the latter group, the States that will offer their citizens the opportunity to obtain the ETIAS are fifteen:
ETIAS Application Process
Unlike short and long-stay visas, which involve a long and sometimes tortuous process, involving repeated visits to consulates, interviews and documentation, the process for applying for ETIAS will be very simple. In fact, these types of visa waiver programs are designed to do just that: to maintain the border security of countries without impacting the ease of entry for citizens of certain countries.
Thus, travelers who are eligible for ETIAS will be able to apply through the website and/or application that the European Union will create for this purpose by the end of 2022. The application will take a maximum of ten minutes to complete, and will only require one document to be provided: a passport or equivalent document.
Moreover, the intention to make the ETIAS application a very accessible process does not end there. It will also allow those who, for a variety of reasons - literacy level, age, technological competence, etc. - are unable to apply in person, to do so through a third party.
What is the deadline for receiving a response?
The simplicity that characterizes the ETIAS application does not end with the process itself, but also extends to the speed of response, which is intended to be swift. The European Commission expects more than 95% of applications to receive a reply within ten minutes of completion of processing and payment.
In principle, the response will only be delayed if the automatic processing fails - either because of a questionable result, or because relevant data is found in the databases - and a manual processing of the application has to be carried out. Such a procedure will then be carried out by employees of the ETIAS competent bodies, and this may prolong the whole response process up to 96 hours.
Only in very exceptional cases, which are expected to be around 1% to 2% of total applications, ETIAS agencies may request some additional documentation from their applicants, thus lengthening the process up to 30 days.
How much does ETIAS cost?
The fee for the ETIAS application will be 7 euros per application, provided that applicants are between 18 and 70 years of age. Payment will be made electronically and, according to the European Commission itself, it will accept various types of payment methods so as not to disadvantage any nationals.
The application process will always start once the payment of the €7 fee has been confirmed, never before.
How long does ETIAS last and how many (and what type of) entries does it cover?
After it has been accepted, the ETIAS will be valid for 3 years (or until the document to which it is linked has expired). Therefore, in that period of time, the holder may enter the Schengen countries for a maximum of 90 days as many times as he/she wishes.
However, it should be borne in mind that the ETIAS is only valid for leisure, business or transit travel -or for study purposes, in the case of stays of less than 90 days-. For any other purpose, such as those motivated by job search or residence, it will be necessary to apply for a short or long stay visa.
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