Planning a nice, lavish trip to Europe in 2023?
Before you pack your bags, get ready to try new foods, and indulge in scenic and historic landscapes, Canadians and Americans should be aware of the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS).
Starting in November 2023, you'll have to apply to ETIAS to visit countries of the European Union that belong to the Schengen Area. Currently there are 27 states, where there isn't border control, allowing for easy travel between them.
The application also comes with a processing fee of €7.
The process applies to Canadians and Americans, because we, amongst about 60 other nationalities, currently enjoy visa-free access to countries of the European Union that belong to the Schengen Area.
ETIAS is meant to act as a pre-travel screening, to deny those that pose a security threat, or a risk in terms of irregular migration or public health. It's meant to gather a traveller's essential info, along with passport details.
"Border security means that information and intelligence exchange must be prioritized,” said former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in 2016, after the program was initially announced. “We need to know who is crossing our borders."
How does the ETIAS approval process work?
The decision for approval lies with the EU Member State where you’ll initially be arriving. According to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), the application should not take more than 10 minutes, while automatic approval should be issued within a few minutes for 95 per cent of cases.
A traveller is expected to receive either the final response or a request for additional documentation amid 96 hours.
If you choose not to pay the €7 fee, a process that's carried out online through a valid credit or debit card, your application will be rejected. You also won’t be reimbursed if your application is denied.
Travellers are advised to apply at least 72 hours prior to their trip. You'll need a valid passport, email address and one of the aforementioned forms of payment.
Initially supposed to be rolled out in 2021, the process provides an extra step, reinforcing the importance to always be mindful of requirements needed for countries you’re travelling to.
Who is exempt from ETIAS?
Thankfully, once you receive ETIAS approval, it will be valid for up to three years. Currently, those under 18 years old and those above 70 are exempt from the additional step and fee.
Canada has a similar application process for those entering the country with visa-free access; called the Electronic Travel Authorization, it also requires a $7 fee. The U.S. has its own version through the Visa Waiver Program that includes a $6 fee.
Currently, when travelling to countries of the European Union that belong to the Schengen Area, Canadians and Americans are allowed to stay for up to three months for tourism, business or transit purposes. We’re not permitted to work to study, and that will continue with ETIAS’ launch in November 2023.