Are you a Hong Kong resident planning a trip to the Schengen Zone/European Union? If so, and your trip takes place after late-2022, you will need an ETIAS.

The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is a visa-waiver program that was initially planned several years ago and has been in development since. The purpose of ETIAS is to vet all visitors from approximately 60 countries, ensuring that they don’t have any serious criminal records and are not the subject of any concerning police investigations.

If there are no such issues, the applicant will be granted authorization, allowing them to visit the Schengen Zone for up to 90 days (within any 180-day period) for up to 3 years.

ETIAS Visa Waiver for Hong Kong Citizens

The European Union (EU) is not quite the same thing as the Schengen Zone, but there is some crossover, and this is where the confusion lies.

The EU is a union of European countries. The Schengen Zone is an agreement initially signed by the biggest nations in the EU. The goal of the Schengen Zone is to abolish all internal borders and allow residents and authorized travelers to move freely.

But of course, abolishing internal borders exposes the countries to a lot of risks and potentially means that human traffickers, sex offenders, drug smugglers, and violent criminals will be afforded the same freedoms as innocent sightseers and locals. The ETIAS was established to prevent these individuals from gaining access to the region.

Once an ETIAS application has been completed and submitted, the applicant’s details will be checked against international databases. These databases contain details about security risks, criminal activities, and arrest warrants. If a red flag is waved, a manual review will be triggered and the applicant may be denied authorization.

If there is no such issue, the application will be processed without issue and a confirmation email will be sent to the successful applicant.

What is the ETIAS Application Process for Hong Kong Citizens?

The application process for Hong Kong residents is the same as the application process for all other eligible nationalities. There is no ETIAS application for Hong Kong and ETIAS application for Paraguay, just as there is not an authorization for Greece and another one for France.

It means that you won’t be asked to jump through hoops that are not required of other nationalities. More importantly, it means that if you are granted an ETIAS to visit France, you can cross over into Belgium, Germany, Spain, and other Schengen countries without additional checks and confirmations.

Where Can Hong Kong Citizens Travel Without a Visa?

Hong Kong citizens have visa-free access to 170 countries and territories around the world, ranking the Hong Kong passport 19th in the world according to the Henley Passport Index. These countries include most of southern Africa and South America, as well as large parts of Asia.

The United Kingdom also grants visa-free access to citizens of Hong Kong, as do Turkey, Tunisia, South Korea, and Australia, the latter of which goes through an electronic visa-waiver program that allows the visitor to remain for up to 90 days.

What are the Best Places for Hong Kong Citizens to Visit with an ETIAS?

The Schengen Zone includes some of the most-visited countries in the world, as well as cities that have a little bit of everything. You can explore thousands of years of history in Rome, Paris, and Athens, soak-up some culture in Vienna and Berlin, and explore great food and drinks in Bruges, Naples, and Munich.

European countries that fall within the Schengen Area have some of the best universities, museums, zoos, restaurants, and national parks. There’s a lot to see and do, and once you have an ETIAS authorization, it’s just one flight, train ride, or car journey away.