Romania is one of only 6 countries which are part of the European Union but not a part of the Schengen Area (the others are Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, as well as the UK and Ireland who opted out). However, with an increasing amount of support across the continent, Romania could be a part of the zone by the end of 2019.
Romania has taken over the rotating EU presidency and they are keen to put joining the Schengen at the top of the agenda. On the day of taking office, they received backing from Antonio Tajani, the European Parliament President. He told the EU member states who have previously blocked Romania joining to “rethink their stance”. He said Romania now met all the criteria to join.
What does this mean for Canadian travelers? Canadians currently enjoy visa-free access to Romania and the Schengen Area (for short trips). Initially, Romania’s accession would not change much. However, from 2021, Canadians will need an ETIAS visa waiver to visit any of the countries in the Schengen Area, including Romania if it joins.
What will Canadians need to do to obtain an ETIAS visa waiver?
The ETIAS application process will be quick and straightforward. Canadians will just need to complete an online form by entering information such as their name, address, date of birth, passport details, and travel plans. There will also be some questions regarding health and security.
Applicants will need to pay a fee using a credit or debit card to submit the application. To minimize the chances of any complications, applicants will need to carefully enter and revise all their answers as small mistakes could lead to delays in the process.
The vast majority of applications will be swiftly approved and Canadians will then receive the ETIAS travel authorization by email. ETIAS visa waiver will be valid for 3-year periods and will allow travelers to enter all the countries (currently 26) in the zone. Travelers will be able to spend periods of up 90 days in the Schengen Zone (maximum of 90 days in any 180-day period).
How close are Romania to joining the Schengen Area?
With the increased support and control of the EU rotating presidency, Romania is closer than ever to joining the Schengen. However, although many commentators are expecting it to happen this year, EU states could still block it from happening.
Romania still needs to convince certain countries that their accession to the Schengen Area will not pose a security risk. The first time the European Parliament called for member states to accept Romania into the Schengen Area was in 2011. However, unlike then, Romania now has an overwhelming majority of EU countries supporting them
President Juncker, the European Council President, said: “I remain convinced that before the end of my term (2019) we will receive Romania as a new member of the Schengen Area. There are still efforts to be made, but we will get this result.”