Visiting Europe’s microstates from Canada


The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is an upcoming requirement for Canadians to visit any and all of the 26 countries within the Schengen Area.

However, Europe is home to a number of microstates that are closely connected to the European Union (EU) and Schengen Zone without being official members.

This has left many Canadian travellers wondering if they will need the ETIAS to visit these tiny but popular European destinations.

What will the requirements be for Canadian citizens who wish to visit Vatican City, race down the ski slopes of Andorra, or go to the Monaco Grand Prix?

What are the European microstates?

Microstates are independent countries with a very small land area and/or population. Exact definitions of the term vary, but it is generally agreed that several exist in Europe.

Throughout history, there have been many more European microstates, with many cities like Venice maintaining independent rule. Most have since merged into larger countries. However, some, like San Marino, continue to be self-governing.

The following 6 tiny sovereign states are generally regarded as the modern microstates of Europe:

  • Andorra
  • Liechtenstein
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • San Marino
  • Vatican City

Of these 6, Malta is a full member of the European Union (EU), while Liechtenstein is a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Both are part of the Schengen Area.

Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City are not officially part of any of these 3 organizations. They do, however, maintain close political relations with their EU/Schengen neighbours.

Do Canadians need to register with the ETIAS to visit European microstates?

Since Malta and Liechtenstein are part of the Schengen Area, Canadian travellers will have to register with the European Travel Information and Authorisation System in order to visit them.

Although the other 4 microstates are not officially part of Schengen, they do not have their own airports. This means that Canadian visitors must first pass through neighboring Schengen countries, for which they will need the ETIAS.

Visiting San Marino and Vatican City with ETIAS

San Marino and Vatican City are both landlocked and are enclaves within Italy, i.e. they are completely surrounded by Italian territory.

Although there are no border checks on entering either microstate, it is impossible to access them without first passing through part of the Schengen Area, since Italy is a member.

Therefore, Canadians will need an ETIAS for Italy in order to visit these microstates.

Do Canadians need ETIAS to visit Monaco?

Monaco is bordered by France (a Schengen member state), with which it shares a custom union, making it effectively part of the Schengen Area.

The only way to enter Monaco without passing through France is by sea, but French and Monégasque authorities check travellers at ports for the required documentation as per Schengen rules. This will include the ETIAS for France from 2022.

Do Canadians need a visa for Andorra?

Andorra also lacks its own airport and can only be visited from the countries which border it, France and Spain (Schengen members.)

Unlike Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City, which maintain open borders with their larger Schengen neighbours (France and Italy), there are border checks on travellers between Andorra, Spain, and France.

However, since Andorra itself has no visa requirements, these checks are limited to only passports or EU national identity cards when entering the country.

When leaving Andorra, however, the Canadian traveller is re-entering the Schengen Area and will have to present their ETIAS for Spain or France. This means that Canadians will require the ETIAS to both arrive in and leave Andorra.

Since the ETIAS permits multiple entries to the Schengen Area, there will be no need to apply again to leave Andorra.

How to travel to European microstates from Canada

In order to reach the microstates of Europe, it is necessary to first fly to one of the neighboring countries.

  • Andorra: fly to Barcelona El Prat Airport or Girona Airport
  • Monaco: fly to Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport
  • San Marino: fly to Federico Fellini International Airport, Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport or Marche Airport
  • Vatican City: fly to Rome–Fiumicino International Airport

After this, the traveller may cross the land border into the microstate.

Unlike the landlocked microstates, Monaco can also be entered by sea.

Of the 2 microstates which are official members of the Schengen Area, Malta has an international airport and a number of sea ports, while Liechtenstein can only be entered from neighbouring countries, like Austria and Switzerland.

How can Canadian citizens apply for ETIAS to visit European microstates?

With the introduction of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) at the end of 2022, Canadian nationals travelling to Europe’s Schengen Area and its associated microstates will need to obtain this visa waiver before they depart for Europe.

This can be done by completing the online ETIAS application form. This involves submitting some basic personal information, such as the Canadian traveller’s name and nationality, their passport details, and answering some other travel-related questions.

The form takes just a few minutes to complete and the majority of applications are processed within 24 hours.

Before applying, check that you meet all the ETIAS requirements for Canadians.

The approved ETIAS is delivered by email. After this, the Canadian traveller may visit all the countries in the Schengen Area and the associated European microstates multiple times for up to 90 days within any 180-day period. ETIAS is valid for 3 years.