With beautiful lakes, idyllic villages, and a history of great music and art, Austria is a popular European destination that attracts millions of travelers every year. It has a little bit of everything and if you live outside of the Schengen Zone, and you’re seeking to travel post-2022, you might need an ETIAS visa waiver before you visit.
Although it sounds like a hassle, it’s actually quite easy to acquire an ETIAS visa waiver and once you have it, you’ll be able to explore Austria and other countries in the Schengen Area.
What is the ETIAS for Austria?
The European Travel Information and Authorization System, or “ETIAS” for short, was first proposed in 2016 but it wasn’t initiated until late-2022.
The purpose of the ETIAS visa waiver program is to simplify and secure the passage of immigrants and travelers through the Schengen Area, thus limiting security risks and creating a single set of border rules to govern all Schengen countries.
Getting an ETIAS Visa Waiver for Austria
If you reside in a visa-exempt country and are a non-EU citizen, you will need to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver before you can enter Austria.
ETIAS travel authorization is not like a traditional visa and there are pros and cons to this.
The pro is that you won’t need to jump through lots of hoops to apply. You don’t need to visit the embassy or consulate and you won’t be tasked with providing a wealth of information and waiting a number of weeks. The ETIAS application process is a breeze and can be completed online in under 10 minutes.
The downside is that it doesn’t give you as much freedom as a visa would. It does not entitle you to work or study within the Schengen Area and you will only be allowed to remain there for up to 90 days consecutively (within a 180-day period).
How to Apply for an ETIAS
As noted above, you can complete the ETIAS application online. Just visit the official website and make sure you have your passport and a debit or credit card.
The application will ask you for some basic information and will then run some checks on international security databases. The checks are not designed to reject you for the smallest discrepancy or criminal infraction and will only raise a red flag if you have any serious crimes on your record.
A small fee is required to complete the ETIAS application and if there are no issues then approval will be sent electronically.
What is the Schengen Area?
The Schengen Area encompasses 26 countries, including 22 from the European Union and 4 from the European Economic Area. All of these Schengen countries have agreed to operate under the same border control laws, which means that if you have an ETIAS visa waiver for Austria, you will also be allowed to enter the other 25 countries in the Schengen Zone, including Germany, France, and the Czech Republic.
Is Austria in the Schengen Area?
Austria joined the Schengen Area back in 1995, when it also joined the European Union. In the last couple of decades, it has been instrumental in developing the ETIAS program.
Do I Need an ETIAS in 2021?
The ETIAS program is slated to take effect toward the end of 2022, after which it will become law across all countries within the Schengen Area. Prior to this date, travelers from non-EU and visa-exempt nations do not need an ETIAS visa waiver for Austria.
Can I Be Refused an ETIAS Visa Waiver for Austria?
It is possible for your application to be rejected and such rejections are more common in individuals with extensive criminal records and previous visa rejections. When there are issues with your ETIAS application, a manual review will be triggered, and someone will take a closer look at your case.
Judgments occur on a case-by-case basis, so it’s hard to say whether or not your review will be approved. It’s important to remember, however, that the ETIAS travel authorization program was designed to root out drug smugglers, human traffickers, violent criminals, and terrorists, and they likely won’t reject you for minor offenses that occurred many years earlier.
Visiting Austria with an ETIAS Visa Waiver
Whether you’re heading to Vienna, Innsbruck, Salzburg, or Austria’s many other beautiful cities, there is always something to see and do, and you can also sample some great food and entertainment along the way.
Some of the most popular locations include the breath-taking Hallstatt, a small town that is hard to reach but provides some fairy tale views and experiences; Belvedere Palace, a massive palace located in the capital, and Burg Hochosterwitz, a medieval castle that was never captured by the enemy.