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What is ETIAS? The new European visa waiver explained

Photo of Jacob LewisPhoto of Jacob Lewis
By Jacob Lewis

17 February 2022 | Updated 18 April 20245 min read

A view showing the skyline of the Lisbon's old town in Portugal, including the Sao Jorge Castle atop of the hill, and the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge in the horizon.

The carefree days of jetting off to Europe with just your passport are about to become a thing of the past. Holidaymakers from the UK visiting the continent will soon be subject to an expensive bit of extra pre-trip admin thanks to our old friend Brexit.

From May 2025, UK travellers visiting the EU will need a European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS).

But it doesn't have to ruin your wanderlust. Here's what you need to know about the new visa waiver system.

How much will the ETIAS cost?

Planning your budget for your European holiday? You'll be glad to know that applying for ETIAS won't break the bank. The fee is €7 for travellers aged 18 to 70. It's free for anyone outside this age range and for family members of EU citizens.

How often do I need to renew my ETIAS?

Once you've got your ETIAS, you're set for three years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. This means you can jet off to Europe whenever the wanderlust strikes without reapplying each time, as long as each stay doesn't exceed 90 days within any 180-day period.

Do children need an ETIAS?

Yes, all travellers, regardless of age, need to have an ETIAS visa waiver. However, for those under 18 or over 70, ETIAS is entirely free.

Which countries are covered by the ETIAS?

ETIAS covers all 27 countries in the Schengen Area, plus Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Romania. This encompasses the majority of EU nations, allowing for smooth travel across some of the most popular destinations in Europe.

What happens if my ETIAS application is denied?

Common reasons for denial include discrepancies in the information provided, a past criminal record, or previous issues with entry into the EU.

If your application is denied, you will receive a notification explaining the reason. You have the right to appeal this decision within a specified period, usually by providing additional documentation or clarifying the information that led to the denial.

It's also possible to reapply for ETIAS, ensuring that any errors or omissions in the previous application are corrected.

Can I travel between ETIAS countries without additional checks?

Once you have been granted ETIAS authorization and have entered the Schengen Area, you can travel freely between the ETIAS countries without undergoing additional border checks.

This ease of movement is one of the hallmarks of the Schengen Area, designed to facilitate smooth travel for tourists and business travellers alike. However, it's always wise to carry your passport and ETIAS authorization, as random checks can occur.

How far in advance should I apply for an ETIAS?

It's recommended to apply for ETIAS at least a few weeks before your intended travel date.

While most applications are processed within minutes, some may require additional review, which can take up to 30 days.

Applying well in advance ensures that you have ample time to address any issues that may arise during the application process and receive your authorization before booking travel and accommodation.

What information do I need to provide for an ETIAS application?

To complete an ETIAS application, you'll need to provide a range of information, including:

  • Personal details (full name, date of birth, and gender)
  • Passport details (number, expiration date, and country of issuance)
  • Contact information (email and address)
  • Details of your first intended stay in the Schengen Area
  • Background questions related to criminal history, past European travel, and previous travel to conflict areas

What should I do if my passport expires soon after getting an ETIAS?

Your ETIAS is linked to your current passport – once your passport expires, so does your ETIAS authorization, regardless of the three-year validity. You'll need to reapply for ETIAS with your new passport.

It's recommended to ensure your passport has a comfortable validity period beyond your planned travel dates to avoid this situation.

Can I use ETIAS for multiple trips to Europe?

Yes, ETIAS is designed for multiple entries into the Schengen Area.

Once approved, your ETIAS authorization allows you to enter and exit the Schengen countries as many times as you wish, provided you don't exceed the 90-day limit within any 180-day period.

This makes ETIAS ideal for holidaymakers who wish to make several trips to Europe within the three-year validity of their ETIAS.

What happens at border control with ETIAS?

Upon arrival at the border control of the first Schengen country you visit, you'll need to present your passport, which is linked to your ETIAS authorization. The border officials will scan your passport, automatically accessing your ETIAS information.

While ETIAS pre-screens travellers for eligibility to enter the Schengen Area, the final entry decision is made by the border officials based on the standard entry criteria.

Can I extend my stay beyond 90 days with an ETIAS?

ETIAS does not allow for an extension beyond the 90 days permitted within any 180-day period. If you wish to stay longer, you'll need to apply for a national visa from the specific country you intend to stay in, subject to that country's visa regulations and requirements. ETIAS is strictly for short stays (tourism, business, or transit).

Is travel insurance required for ETIAS holders?

While the ETIAS itself does not mandate travel insurance, it's highly recommended to have comprehensive travel insurance for your trip to Europe.

Some Schengen countries may require proof of travel insurance upon entry, particularly insurance that covers medical expenses and repatriation.

It's best to check the specific entry requirements of the countries you plan to visit and to consider insurance as a safeguard against unforeseen circumstances.

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