Ever dreamed of traveling all over Europe? Seeing the Eiffel Tower in Paris, eating pasta in Rome, and flamenco dancing in Barcelona. There's nothing quite like the Old Continent, is there? And luckily, once you get a Schengen Visa, you can freely travel to all these destinations with no problem at all! But make no mistake, getting it isn't a walk in the park. In fact, the application process for it is pretty rigorous. There's always a good chance you might get rejected. So if you don't get a Schengen Visa, does this mean you have to kiss your dreams of traveling to Europe goodbye? Not necessarily! There's still the ETIAS Visa Waiver Program!
What is The ETIAS Visa Waiver Program All About?
The European Travel Information and Authorization System, or 'ETIAS,' now offers a visa waiver program that will allow travelers to enter Europe without a Schengen Visa
. ETIAS itself was started in 2016, as an electronic system that will keep track of visitors in the EU. In many ways, it's similar to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) in the US. The main difference is ESTA is already operating now. ETIAS, on the other hand, won't be fully operational until 2023. Those who plan to travel to Europe through ETIAS will have to wait till then.
Which Countries Does ETIAS Cover?
As already mentioned, ETIAS will allow travelers to enter the EU without a Schengen Visa. So of course, this system will be effective when you visit Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden. Although not a member of the EU, Liechtenstein is also part of this list. Just like the Schengen Visa, the ETIAS will allow you to travel throughout these countries within your valid period.
Which Countries Are Eligible for ETIAS?
According to Schengen Visa Info
, there are currently around 63 countries that are eligible for the ETIAS visa waiver program. If you're a citizen of any of these nations, it means you're allowed to apply for the program if you have plans to travel to Europe. Among the most notable countries here are the US
, the UK
, the UAE
, Israel, Japan, Australia, Canada, Brazil, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Ukraine. They also noted that this list may change up until the system will be fully operational by 2023. It's possible that more countries will be added or some will be removed.
What Documents Do You Need to Apply for ETIAS?
As with any other application process, ETIAS will require you to show a few required documents in order to grant you the waiver. For the most part, all you really need is your valid passport and filled-up application form. Also, having an Electronic passport chip would increase your chances of getting the waiver. And depending on the ETIAS National Unit of the Member State that you applied to, they might ask you to show additional documents. This varies from country to country but it's bound to include proof of income and proof of address.
What is The Application Process Like?
You might be surprised at how simple the application for ETIAS actually is. All you have to do is set up the appointment, submit the requirements, and pay the application fee. For ETIAS, the application fee is only €7.00 per adult. Any applicant under the age of 18 won't have to pay the fee. And once you've submitted everything, the system will check your information to see if you're eligible or not. Do note that simply applying for ETIAS, even if you're a citizen of an eligible country, doesn't automatically grant you the visa waiver. There's still a good chance you might get denied.
Why Would Your ETIAS Application Be Denied?
Let's say you did get denied for the ETIAS visa waiver program. What might be the reason for it? It's possible that the system deemed you a security risk for the EU, thereby barring you from entering the continent. In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, they might also see you as a high epidemic risk—for which you'll need a Digital Green Certificate
to argue otherwise. You might also pose an illegal immigration risk, which is also a common reason for denying visas in various parts of the world. And finally, you might not have attended the interview they set up. Make sure to check your emails if you were scheduled for an interview during your application.
Can You Appeal The Rejection?
If you do get rejected by ETIAS, is that the end? Not necessarily! Just like when you get rejected for a Schengen Visa, you have the chance to appeal the rejection. The good thing about applying for ETIAS is that, if your application is denied, they will send you a message that includes the reason for their rejection. This allows you to appeal the rejected application provided that you have solid proof that the system made a mistake. The process for this varies depending on the member state. You will have to ask the ETIAS National Unit of the Member State that you applied to on how to go about the appeal.
Did you know that it will soon be possible to travel to Europe without a Schengen Visa? It's all thanks to the ETIAS Visa Waiver Program! If you're eligible for this, you can freely travel all over the old continent as much as you want!