From 2024, British citizens will need to hold an ETIAS visa for visiting the EU

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What is ETIAS?

The European Travel Information Authorization System, or ETIAS, is an upcoming EU scheme aimed at enhancing border management and security for the Schengen Area and countries in the process of joining. Starting in 2024, visitors from third countries, including the UK, USA, Canada, and Australia, will be required to obtain an ETIAS visa waiver before arriving in any EU Schengen country.

How does ETIAS work?

Similar to the US ESTA or Canadian eTA visa waivers, UK citizens will need to apply online for ETIAS authorization before traveling to Europe. The application process is straightforward and quick, requiring only a valid UK passport, an active email address, and a debit/credit card.

Once approved, the ETIAS visa waiver will be electronically linked to the traveler's passport and will remain valid for an unlimited number of trips within a three-year period or until the passport expires, whichever comes first.

How long can UK citizens stay in Europe with ETIAS?

With ETIAS, UK tourists will be allowed to stay in Europe for up to 90 days within any 180-day period. During this time, they can freely travel within any of the 27 Schengen countries, including Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Romania, without any limitations or passport checks.

Which countries require ETIAS?

From 2024 onwards, an ETIAS visa waiver will be necessary to visit any EU country, the Schengen Area, and participating nations, including 27 Schengen countries, EFTA Schengen countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland), EU-based micronations (Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City), and British Overseas Territory Gibraltar.

Full list of countries you need ETIAS for:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Gibraltar
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • San Marino
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Vatican City

When will ETIAS be mandatory for UK travelers to Europe?

ETIAS is scheduled to launch in 2024, and shortly after its introduction, it will become mandatory for passengers from eligible third countries, including the UK, to have a valid visa waiver to enter the Schengen Zone.

ETIAS application process

After ETIAS is launched, UK visitors to the EU must apply for a valid visa waiver online and link it to their British passport with at least six months of validity. They must also specify the country they will visit first in the EU, where their passport will be checked upon entry to the free travel area. Airport and port terminal staff will verify passengers' documents before boarding flights or ferries, and not having the appropriate visa waiver may result in being denied boarding.

Travelling to Europe from the UK

On arrival in the EU, travelers will need to present the passport that has been registered for the visa waiver. Passengers may also carry a printed copy of the waiver approval as proof of validity. If the border guard is satisfied with the visa waiver and passport presented, they will return the documents to the traveler and allow them to enter the EU. The visitor will then be able to spend up to 90 days in the Schengen Area, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania.

Benefits of ETIAS for the EU

ETIAS aims to enhance the security and manageability of the EU's borders. The visa waiver system allows FRONTEX, the EU's border control force, to pre-screen passengers to ensure they do not pose any risks to local residents. This will expedite the process of entering the Schengen Area, allowing comprehensive checks of individual travelers upon arrival.

Difference between ETIAS and Schengen visa

Unlike a Schengen Visa, ETIAS is not a full visa but a streamlined travel authorization for short-term visits, such as tourism and business trips. ETIAS holders can stay in Europe for up to 90 days and are not allowed to work or seek employment in the EU. For longer stays or employment purposes, a full Schengen visa is necessary.

Border controls with ETIAS

Upon entering the EU with an ETIAS visa waiver, UK citizens will still go through border controls. However, once inside the Schengen Area, they can travel freely between the 27-country zone, including Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Romania, without further passport checks or border controls. ETIAS simplifies travel for UK citizens, ensuring a smooth and secure experience within the EU.

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