Canadians can currently travel to the Schengen Area, composed of 26 European countries, visa free. However, this is going to change once the European Travel and Information Authorization System, ETIAS, is launched in 2021.
The European Union put forward a proposal for such a system in 2016 which was welcomed by several EU representatives. In his 2016 State of the Union Address, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker clearly stated that Europe needs to know who is crossing its borders. The implementation of ETIAS has been approved by the European Parliament and it is expected to be live in the year 2021. Nationals of over 60 countries, including Canadians, will be required to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver in order to visit the Schengen Area for short-term stays.
The main goal of ETIAS is to determine third-country nationals eligibility to travel to Europe. The system is being developed by eu-LISA, the European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT systems. The agency already operates several essential systems which include the Visa Information System (VIS), the Schengen Information System (SIS II) and Eurodac.
Will Canadians need a visa to travel to Europe in 2021?
Canadian citizens will not need a visa to visit Europe in 2021. However, all Canadians who wish to visit the Schengen Area will need to obtain the ETIAS visa waiver. ETIAS is not a visa, it is a travel authorization for nationals from visa exempt countries. All eligible citizens will need to apply for ETIAS by completing an online application form.
Travelers who have Canadian citizenship are eligible for the ETIAS visa waiver and will be required to have a valid passport, an email address, and a debit or credit card to apply for it. These ETIAS requirements for Canadian nationals are essential to complete the application successfully. The passport is an entry requirement to visit any country in Europe. It is important that the passport is valid for at least six months when completing the ETIAS form. The email address is a requirement because all official communication between the system and the applicant will be exchanged via email. Once an ETIAS travel authorization is approved, the Canadian traveler will receive the respective notification on their inbox.
The ETIAS application form for Canadians requires that the applicants provide their personal details. Among the information in the form, the traveler needs to enter their full name, citizenship, date and place of birth, and address. The passport data must be entered carefully, as once ETIAS is approved it is electronically linked to the applicant’s passport.
When completing the ETIAS form, each applicant must answer a series of security questions. The questions are about an applicant’s criminal record, health history and whether they have visited conflict areas. The traveler must respond each question honestly. Lies or fraud will be quickly identified once the application is being processed.
A Canadian ETIAS holder will be able to travel to Europe multiple times. The ETIAS visa waiver is valid for 3 consecutive years or until the passport expires. ETIAS is only valid for short-term stays, however, any person wishing to live, work or study in Europe must obtain the respective visa or permit to remain in the region for extended periods of time.
The ETIAS visa waiver is not so different from Canada’s eTA. They are both electronic travel authorizations designed to identify who is entering their territory. All of the data entered in an ETIAS application will be contrasted against several security databases. With ETIAS, if an application sets of an alarm, such application will be evaluated manually by specialized personnel. If an ETIAS is denied, the applicant will be able to appeal the decision, though, they will need to provide additional documentation.