The EU Commission created the European Travel and Authorization System (ETIAS) as part of an effort to strengthen the external borders of the Schengen Area. From 2022 it will be a legal requirement for visitors to the Schengen zone to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver.
What are the benefits of the ETIAS travel authorization system? What are the drawbacks? Will the new system be beneficial for travellers to the Schengen Area overall? This article will explore the pros and cons of ETIAS from the point of view of the passenger, based on what has been revealed about the system so far.
Pro: Increased security
The most significant benefit of the ETIAS European visa waiver is that it will strengthen the borders of the Schengen Area. There have been a number of high profile terrorist attacks since 2016 which have highlighted the need for greater security.
The attacks have generally taken place in areas in areas with a high concentration of tourists. ETIAS will not only make Europe a safer place for those living there, but also for visitors.
Con: More red tape
At the moment, citizens from more than 60 countries can travel to the Schengen visa-free, without completing any paperwork. The introduction of ETIAS will mean that people from those countries will need to enroll with ETIAS by completing online registration. This, in turn, will mean slightly more hassle.
Pro: The application form is quick and simple
The ETIAS online application will only take a matter of minutes to complete. It will involve entering some basic information such as name, address, date of birth, passport details, and travel plans. There will also be some security-related questions. After the application has been approved, a copy of the ETIAS visa waiver will be sent to the traveller by email.
Con: The application will involve a fee
After applicants have answered all the questions on the ETIAS application form it will be necessary to make a payment using a credit or debit card. The exact amount tourists will need to pay for the fee has not yet been finalized. Travellers coming from countries that are currently visa-exempt do not need to pay anything.
Pro: ETIAS visa waivers will be valid for three years
ETIAS visa waiver will allow travellers to enter the Schengen multiple times over a three year period. The travel authorization will run out after three years or until the holder’s passport expires.
The visa waiver has been designed for short stays of up to 90 days but there is no limit on the number of trips a traveller can make as long as the total number of days spent in the Schengen does not exceed 90 days within a 180 day period.
Con: ETIAS visa waivers will not be transferable between passports
ETIAS visas are only valid to use with one specific passport. This means that if a traveller’s passport expires before the three year validity period of their ETIAS visa waiver will no longer be valid.
If the visa waiver-holder wishes to return to the Schengen Area it will be necessary to reapply for ETIAS and obtain a new travel authorization to go with the new passport.
Pro: Free movement within the Schengen Area
ETIAS has only been designed to strengthen the external border of the Schengen Area. There are no hard borders between the countries within Schengen. This means that once you have entered the zone with your ETIAS visa waiver, you will be able to travel freely between all 26 Schengen countries.