Currently, a large number of people from countries such as the United States and Canada who wish to travel to Europe do not need to apply for a visa before they arrive. The European Commission, the body that sets the rules for the 28 members of the European Union, has developed a system that will imply that these citizens (United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.) will have to provide information about themselves and the reason for their online travel arrangements via an application portal before arriving in Europe. For a complete list of these countries, please visit this page.
The Commission has proposed a European Travel Authorization and Information System, or ETIAS, which will essentially be a European visa waiver. ETIAS will have similarities to systems already in place in the United States, Canada and Australia and is designed to meet similar objectives. You can learn more about ETIAS in the following sections
The Three categories of visitors to the EU and the Schengen area
There are three categories of countries in the European Schengen area. The Schengen countries are basically the same as the countries of the European Union itself, but there are some that are in Schengen and not in the EU and vice versa. This is a little confusing for non-Europeans, but, basically, the Schengen countries have uniform immigration rules and freedom of movement for their respective nationals.
- The first of the three groups are EU and Schengen nationals. These people are free to visit, live and work in the respective countries, so there are no restrictions.
- The second group includes nationals of a large number of non-European countries. They do not need a visa to visit Europe, but there are restrictions on how long they can stay and what they can do, especially if they want to study, work or live or more than 3 months at a time. It is this group that will be affected by the ETIAS Americans, Canadians, Australians, Japanese, Malaysians and many others are in this group. These countries will be the ones ETIAS is intended to.
- The third group includes non-European nationals who need visas before travelling to Europe. Most of the members of this group are nationals of third world countries or those with weaker cultural and economic ties to the EU.
Why is there going to be an ETIAS?
The European Commission has proposed the new pre-travel authorization system because of the changing number of visitors to Europe and the reasons for their travel. It is hoped that the system will deter criminals and potential terrorists and monitor all those who intend to visit in order to ensure a higher level of security for European residents.
There are four main reasons for the introduction of ETIAS:
- There are many more visitors in Europe, with about 50 million individual visitors last year and more than 200 million admissions.
- The number of refugees and asylum seekers for various reasons, including persecution, war, economic benefits, etc., has increased significantly in recent years.
- Terrorist incidents have become more frequent and this has had a disturbing and disturbing effect on European citizens. Recently affected countries are France, Belgium, Germany and Spain.
- Advances in electronic communication technology and the use of the Internet by travellers worldwide have made the electronic pre-travel authorization form a realistic and practical way to obtain the kind of information needed by collective border authorities and personal security.
Similarities with other electronic authorizations
Several other countries have already implemented electronic authorization systems that are requested online and issued before the trip begins.
In 1996, Australia set up its own service and electronic travel agency (eTA), mainly to speed up the processing of visa applications for the large number of tourists wishing to travel to Australia.
The United States introduced an Automatic Electronic Travel Authorization System (ESTA) in 2007 for some passport holders. This is a visa waiver system for nationals of countries considered to pose a relatively low risk to the security of the United States.
Canada is the most recent country to have introduced a system similar to the one the United States called the eTA.