What is ETIAS?

| June 16, 2021

The ETIAS is a game-changer for anyone accessing some of Europe’s biggest and best destinations. It may add a few extra steps and a little more red tape to your vacation plans, but the process is surprisingly straightforward and cheap, as that’s how it was designed.

All About the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS)

ETIAS is short for “European Travel Information and Authorization System”. It is an electronic system that provides successful applicants with visa-free access to countries within the Schengen Zone. If you reside outside of these countries and want to access them for any length of time (after the end of 2022), you may need to complete an ETIAS visa waiver application.

The good news is that ETIAS authorization is granted to most applicants and the process is entirely automated (unless there is an issue, in which case a manual review will be triggered). You can complete the ETIAS application in 10 minutes or so and should receive a quick decision, followed by travel authorization.

Does the Schengen Zone Cover All of Europe?

Europe is a continent, the European Union (EU) is a political and economic union, and the Schengen Zone is an agreement signed by EU and non-EU states.

It does not, therefore, cover all of Europe, nor does it cover all of the EU.

For instance, the United Kingdom is one of the biggest nations in Europe, but it is neither a member of the EU or the Schengen Zone. Nearby Ireland is a member of the EU, but it has not signed the Schengen Agreement.

Which Countries Are in the Schengen Zone?

  • Austria (EU Member)
  • Belgium (EU Member)
  • Czech Republic (EU Member)
  • Denmark (EU Member)
  • Estonia (EU Member)
  • Finland (EU Member)
  • France (EU Member)
  • Germany (EU Member)
  • Greece (EU Member)
  • Hungary (EU Member)
  • Iceland (Non-EU Member State)
  • Italy (EU Member)
  • Latvia (EU Member)
  • Liechtenstein (Non-EU Member State)
  • Lithuania (EU Member)
  • Luxembourg (EU Member)
  • Malta (EU Member)
  • Netherlands (EU Member)
  • Norway (Non-EU Member State)
  • Poland (EU Member)
  • Portugal (EU Member)
  • Slovakia (EU Member)
  • Slovenia (EU Member)
  • Spain (EU Member)
  • Sweden (EU Member)
  • Switzerland (Non-EU Member State)

The micro-states of Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City are also part of the Schengen Zone.

Additional countries will be added in time as both the EU and the Schengen Agreement expand.

Do I Need an ETIAS Visa Waiver?

Do you reside in any of the countries listed above? If so, the answer is a resounding “no”. You’re one of the lucky ones and the Schengen Area is your oyster—explore at will!

If not, you may need either an ETIAS or a Schengen Visa. The rules are subject to change as countries change their position, but right now, the ETIAS visa waiver is required of individuals in all of the following countries:

  • Albania
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brazil
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Dominica
  • El Salvador
  • Georgia
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Hong Kong
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Kiribati
  • Macao
  • Macedonia
  • Malaysia
  • Marshall Islands
  • Mauritius
  • Mexico
  • Micronesia
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro
  • New Zealand
  • Nicaragua
  • Palau
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Vincent
  • Samoa
  • Serbia
  • Seychelles
  • Singapore
  • Solomon Islands
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Timor Leste
  • Tonga
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Tuvalu
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America
  • Uruguay
  • Vanuatu
  • Venezuela

Summary: What is ETIAS?

Simply put, an ETIAS visa waiver is provided in lieu of a Schengen Visa to individuals who want to travel freely throughout the Schengen Area and are not interested in long-term work or study. It’s ideally suited to business, tourism, and transit and as the ETIAS application process is quick, easy, and cheap (the fee is just €7), it’s usually headache-free.

Just bear in mind that the European Travel Information and Authorization System doesn’t come into effect until late 2022. If you’re reading this guide before that period, you may be subject to different rules. In most cases, you will still be able to visit Schengen countries visa-free, but there may be exceptions and times when you need a visa, so be sure to check the local laws.