How the new ETIAS will affect Canadians travelling to Europe

Contrary to several press claims, the E.U. Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is not a permit. It is a screening system designed to enhance security in European Union countries. Visitors to E.U. member nations will not have to visit a consulate before leaving home to apply for ETIAS clearance. Obtaining an ETIAS visa waiver can be done online and will afford visitors the ability to freely travel from one E.U. country to another. 

ETIAS  is a centralized system that guarantees that visitors who currently travel visa-free are not security risks. It is was developed in response to terrorist attacks in E.U. member countries. If you are currently able to travel freely to Europe the new ETIAS screening system won't change much for you. Approximately 98-99 per cent of people who apply to ETIAS are likely to be cleared for travel. 

The United States already has a policy comparable to this in a place called ESTA, which requires residents of visa-exempt countries to fill out an online form before visiting the U.S. For all Schengen regions of Europe, ETIAS will work the same as the ESTA.

How ETIAS Will Affect Canadian Travellers

If you're from Canada, the United States, New Zealand, Australia or other non-EU countries, you can buy a ticket right now and fly to Paris or Rome on the next available flight — no visa, no planning necessary. Upon arrival, you simply show your passport to the customs officials who will process your entry and you are on your way. 

That will change in 2022 with the implementation of ETIAS for Canadian travellers to Europe. For the first time, visitors who were not required to have a visa to travel the Schengen region must first apply online and be approved before they can visit Europe’ Schengen countries. You won't be able to book a hotel, rent a car, or travel by train if you try to go to a Schengen province without ETIAS approval, that's if you are not first turned away at the border.

Fortunately, the process of applying for ETIAS will be fast and effortless, and getting certified will be simply a little task that you do between ordering airliner tickets and booking hotel rooms. Most people will be approved in a matter of hours.

Countries That Will Be Allowed To Use ETIAS

Named after the town in Luxembourgh were the agreement was signed, Schengen refers to the 26 European Union countries that abolished passports and all border control at their shared borders. All Schengen countries will be using ETIAS to prescreen foreign visitors.

What Countries Are Allowed To Verify Their ETIAS

There are approximately 60 countries that do not currently require a passport to travel in the Schengen regions of the E.U., for these countries the ETIAS clearance will be mandatory. This includes Canada, the United States, Australia, Japan, most non-Schengen European countries, and most Latin American nations.

Visitors from Belarus, Turkey, Ecuador, and the all of Africa and Asia who currently require a visa to travel in Schengen member countries will continue to use the visa system. They will continue to also require a passport before touring.

Before you apply for an ETIAS clearance make sure to find out first if the region you are from requires it.

Photo: Lucas Wesney, Unsplash