ETIAS Visa Application Program: What You Need to Know

Le Berlaymont - The European Comission modern building in Belgian capital Brussels

ETIAS will be a new system being launched by the European Union to optimize the way that travelers planning on visiting the EU apply for their visas. The system will allow travelers to apply for their visas online instead of having to visit a European consulate or embassy in person, and it is designed to take only minutes to complete. 

The revolutionary new program will launch on January 1st, 2021. Registration will only be necessary, but required, for citizens of countries that already require visas and travel permits for travel to and within the Schengen Area and EU. After the launch, people from countries that do not offer visa-free travel to the EU will not be able to visit without ETIAS registration and approval. Without registration and an approved application, citizens of countries that do not currently need said authorization for travel, over 60 nationalities will not be affected by the new program and will not need to register. 

ETIAS is designed to benefit travelers by nature by making Europe a safer place for them to enjoy and requiring less time to be spent at borders. With it being completely online and outfitted to only take a few minutes to complete, travelers worldwide should notice a big difference in the time they spend applying for EU and Schengen visas. Once their applications are approved and they are granted visas, travelers will have the ability to use smart passport gates at airports and seaports, minimizing the strain on them upon entering the EU. They will also be able to check the details of their ETIAS like the terms and its expiration date, all online.  

The program will also benefit the Schengen and EU authorities. With a focus on safety and security, it will allow for more communication between law enforcement agencies across borders to exchange information about issues including:

  • Human trafficking 
  • International crime
  • Identity theft
  • Terrorism 
  • Drug trafficking 
  • Illegal immigration 

ETIAS will also help the governments of Schengen and EU countries become more efficient in the way they handle border control and immigration. It will allow the government to streamline the application process and optimize resource allocation as there will not be as much of a problem with overburdened consulates, embassies, and immigration offices. 

To register for ETIAS, travelers will need to visit the ETIAS website once it is active. On the website they will need to provide supporting documents like a passport, fill out the application form, and pay the application fee.
The new program will be a secure system. It will be encrypted, managed, and stored by eu-LISA, the European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice. Only people with the proper authorization will be allowed to access travelers’ information.

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