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Everything You Need to Know About ETIAS

By Serita Braxton | Last updated on

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Taking a trip from the U.S. to many European countries can be as easy as: search, book, fly. But in the future, the process will require an added step called the European Travel Information and Authorization System, or ETIAS.

You’re ready to start planning your dream trip to a destination in Europe but will this extra step delay your ability to cross the border? With almost 42% of Americans unclear about what the ETIAS actually is, air passenger rights specialists AirHelp, are here to help. We’ll break down everything you need to know for when this new system is implemented.

What is the ETIAS?

The European Travel Information and Authorization System, or ETIAS, is a special authorization that will be required before entry to countries within the Schengen Zone.

The European Commission introduced the need for the ETIAS during the State of the Union Address in September 2016. The idea is that it will work as a security measure, to better manage who is entering Schengen Zone countries.

Essentially the ETIAS system will pre-approve travelers to enter Europe, before they actually arrive on the continent. A background check will be run for each applicant to make sure that they don’t present any security concerns.

The system will also keep track of travelers as they move throughout the Schengen Zone, as a continued effort to determine any risks.

Is there an ETIAS Visa?

Despite being referred to as the ETIAS Visa, the authorization process does not require the same lengthy approval procedures as a visa.

Depending on factors like the purpose of your visit and your country of residence, you may also need a visa to visit Europe.

Countries throughout the world have different visa requirements that can include extensive amounts of paperwork before granting you admission for tourism, work, or educational purposes. Visas can take up to several weeks for approval and cost a significant amount of money.

You can visit the EU Travel Information & Authorization System website for the full list of countries that will require the authorization to travel to Europe.

When does the ETIAS go into effect?

You will be required to submit an ETIAS application for any travel planned within the Schengen Zone after January 2021.

What are the ETIAS countries?

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Image by Annie Spratt via Unsplash

The European Travel Information and Authorization System will cover all 26 Schengen Zone countries located within Europe, that includes:

Austria Germany Lithuania Slovakia
Belgium Greece Luxembourg Slovenia
Czech Republic Hungary Malta Spain
Denmark Iceland Netherlands Sweden
Estonia Italy Norway Switzerland
Finland Latvia Poland
France Liechtenstein Portugal

Why would I need a ETIAS?

No matter if you are traveling for vacation, business, medical reasons, or for transit reasons you will need to apply for the ETIAS.

Along with a valid passport the ETIAS is an essential travel credential that ensures you are allowed entry into countries within the Schengen Zone.

It is the responsibility of the traveler to make sure that they have all of the visas and authorizations required to enter their destination. While AirHelp is there to help you seek compensation when your travel plans are disrupted, you will not be eligible for anything if you are denied boarding for something that’s your own fault — such as not having your ETIAS.

What will I need to apply for the ETIAS?

There is only one official document needed to submit your ETIAS application: a valid passport. There may be certain features required though. For example, your passport must be machine readable, include a digital photograph, and in certain cases have an electronic chip.

How long does the ETIAS process take?

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Image by Eugene Chystiakov via Pexels

According to the Schengen Visa Info website, it will take 10 minutes to complete the ETIAS application. After filling out your personal information, travel details, and other required sections, your eligibility can be determined in just a few minutes.

Once your information is verified and the system confirms you’re not a security risk, you will receive a notification on the ETIAS website that you are approved. If your application is flagged for any reason a manual assessment will be done that could take up to 2 weeks.

Why would my ETIAS application be denied?

Each applicant’s information will be run through several databases and watchlists from agencies such as Europol, Schengen Information System (SIS), Visa Information System (VIS) and more. The ETIAS will also factor in whether applicants have recently been to any conflict zones, been deported or rejected from another country, along with any criminal records.

If the applicant is flagged by any of these systems, the information provided is deemed fraudulent, or security concerns arise, the application can be rejected. If you receive a notification that your application is not approved, you will also receive justification as to why.

In the case that your application is denied, you will always have the ability to appeal the decision.

How much does the ETIAS cost?

The ETIAS cost is expected to be €7 (about $8) per application. The fee can be paid directly on the website before your ETIAS application is processed.

How long does the ETIAS last?

Once your ETIAS application is approved it’s valid for 3 years of travel. During that time you’ll be allowed an unlimited number of visits to Schengen member states. Each visit can not exceed 90 days within a 180-day period.

Did you know that you could claim compensation for disrupted flights within the same amount of time your ETIAS is valid? You can check to see if you’re eligible for compensation for delayed or canceled flights with the last 3 years.

Do children have to apply for the ETIAS?

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Image by Mojca JJ via Pixabay


Travelers of every age, from infants to the elderly, will be required to complete an ETIAS application when they plan to enter any Schengen Zone country. The legal guardian of minors must complete the application on their behalf. However, the application fee is waived for applicants under the age of 18 and over the age of 70.

Once I receive the ETIAS will I be able to travel anywhere in the Schengen Zone?

Once your ETIAS application is approved, you are granted access to travel anywhere within the Schengen Zone for 90 days at a time. However, you should know your ETIAS approval is based on a specific country of entry.

So, if you state that you are traveling to France first, your first point of entry can only be through France. If you end up trying to enter the Schengen Zone through Spain (or any other country) you may not be allowed through, because your entry was not approved for that location.

Keep in mind that even with your ETIAS it is always up to the discretion of the border patrol to allow you entry.

Will the ETIAS only be required for U.S. citizens?

No, citizens from any country that doesn’t require a visa to enter the Schengen Zone will also need to apply for the ETIAS. There are currently 57 countries outside of the EU whose citizens will need to apply for an ETIAS, including Australia, Singapore, and Brazil.

Does the U.S. have a system similar to the ETIAS?

Yes, it does. The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) became mandatory for those traveling to the U.S. from countries that are a part of the Visa Waiver Program in January 2009. The fee is $14 for every application for visitors who will travel to the U.S. for less than 90 days.

 

AirHelp wants you to be prepared when you’re set to fly so that your trip goes smoothly. We’re also here for you when there’s trouble with your trip. If your flight to Europe delayed, canceled or overbooked in the last 3 years you could be owed up to $700. Use our eligibility checker to see if you can get compensated for your disrupted flight.

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