New electronic visa process for travellers to Europe planned
What will the ETIAS visa mean for Aussie travellers?
Australia is currently one of many countries not in the European Union (EU) whose citizens can enter the Schengen Area without needing a special visa when travelling as a tourist or on business.
We can enter any country in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days in a 180 day period. The Schengen Area covers most of Europe with the exception of countries like Britain, Ireland, Bulgaria and Romania.
If you thought you had the business of European travel all figured out, then get ready for everything to become a lot more complicated.
What is the ETIAS visa?
The ETIAS visa (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) is an electronic system, similar to the ESTA in the USA, that will keep track of visitors from countries who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Area. The system is expected to be in place by 2020.
Aussies planning to visit Europe will need to apply online for an ETIAS visa. You'll be asked security questions and you must provide details of your travel plans. You'll also have to pay a fee, likely to be €5.
The online application is expected to take 20 minutes to complete and you will need to provide basic details as well as answer background and eligibility questions. You will need to list information such as any medical conditions you have, whether you’ve travelled to countries actively involved in war or any countries where you've been deported or rejected from entry, as well as any criminal records you may have.
When you’re approved, your ETIAS visa will be valid for five years or until your passport expires. Only adults need the ETIAS visa. Minors under 18 will only need their passport to enter.
Once you've obtained the ETIAS visa you can travel freely within the Schengen Area. According to the ETIAS website, by 2020 the visa will also apply to some new countries including the previously excluded Croatia and Bulgaria.
As the ETIAS process is finalised, more information will come to light and more questions will be answered. Still outstanding is how Aussies with British citizenship will be treated post-Brexit or what will happen to the many outstanding visa waiver agreements we have with various European countries.
Concerns have also been made around fake websites that are likely to pop up like the many fake ESTA websites that are still a common travel scam. If you’re worried about your upcoming travel plans, make sure you’re covered for travel insurance so that you won’t be affected by the changes.