People travelling to the EU will soon have another piece of admin to deal with.
Non-EU citizens, including Americans, Australians, Brits and other travellers from outside the Schengen zone, will need to fill out a €7 application to get in from next year.
Under the so-called ‘90 day rule’, citizens of these and many other countries are only allowed to spend up to 90 days, in every 180 in the EU. Any longer and they need a visa.
That’s not changing fundamentally, as people are still entitled to spend this much time inside the EU, but the process will no longer be completely admin-free.
Called the ‘European Travel Information and Authorisation System’ – ETIAS for short – the new rule is intended to “increase security and help prevent health threats to the bloc”.
Who does the new EU visa waiver apply to?
The new security measure affects people who do not live permanently in an EU country or don’t need a visa to stay in one.
Tourists, second-home owners, temporary workers or those visiting family or friends in the 26 Schengen zone countries should therefore take note.
The new ETIAS programme is being likened to the Australian ETA and the US ESTA visa waivers, both used for short-term stays.
The rules for those who require a Schengen visa – including the majority of citizens in Africa, Asia and South America – will remain the same.
How and when will this change travel for non-EU citizens?
The European Commission says this will have “minimal effect” on people travelling to Europe.
Eligible travellers will have to fill out an online application before they arrive, which costs €7 or is free to under-18s or over-70s.
It should take only a matter of minutes to fill out the form – which will require biometric passport information and travel details, as well as some basic security questions. But travellers are advised to apply at least 72 hours before they need it just in case of any delays.
Once your application has been approved it lasts for three years – which is good news for frequent travellers, although it must then be renewed.
ETIAS is set to come into force before the end of 2022.