HomeTravel InsuranceWhat to Know About ETIAS: Europe’s New Visa Waiver Program

What to Know About ETIAS: Europe’s New Visa Waiver Program


While you may be eager to pack your bags for your next European adventure, just know that a new checkpoint awaits on the horizon: the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS).

Starting in mid-2025, this visa waiver program will introduce a pivotal shift in how travelers from over 60 visa-exempt countries (including the US and Canada) will experience travel to 30 European destinations. This program was created to strengthen border security and represents a significant update to the travel procedures for millions of travelers.

For travelers used to impromptu trips to Europe, this new ETIAS requirement is a notable change. But integrating it into your travel plans can be straightforward, keeping your trips to Europe just as enjoyable as before.

In this article, we’re here to clarify the ETIAS process, from applying to receiving approval, and explain its role in your overall travel insurance planning.

What is the new ETIAS Program?

ETIAS, the European Travel Information and Authorization System, is set to become a key part of planning your trip to Europe starting in 2025. Up until this point, most visitors didn’t need a visa, or anything like it, for short trips to Europe, but with this program, that’s changing. The system’s main purpose is to increase border security by performing a quick check on visitors before they even board their flights. The expectation is that ETIAS will help identify individuals who pose security risks before they can travel.

In short, ETIAS is about making sure that folks coming to enjoy the stunning cities and landscapes of these European countries are pre-screened for security purposes. It’s not as hefty as a visa process, but it gives European destination countries an early heads-up as to who is planning to visit. ETIAS approval is good for three years or until your passport expires, giving holders plenty of time for European adventures.

Countries and Travelers Affected

This new program will affect travelers from over 60 visa-exempt countries. If you’re from one of these countries, you’ll need to obtain this travel authorization before you can visit any of the 30 European destinations covered by ETIAS. The below 30 countries in Europe require visa-exempt travelers to have an ETIAS travel authorization:

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

Who needs to apply?

If you’ve been enjoying visa-free travel to Europe for short stays, you’re the target visitor for ETIAS. Travelers from countries like the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan, to name just a few, will need to secure an ETIAS authorization before their European travels.

In short, ETIAS is bringing a new step to the travel prep checklist for millions of travelers used to hopping over to Europe without much paperwork. But don’t worry, it’s designed to be a straightforward process, which we’ll look at in the next section.

Applying for ETIAS Authorization

Getting your ETIAS authorization is meant to be easy and fast, almost like filling out a simple online form before your trip. Here’s a breakdown on how to apply:

First, head over to the official ETIAS website or use the ETIAS mobile app once it’s up and running. The good news is that you can complete the application from the comfort of your home or on the go, without having to visit an embassy or send off your passport.

The application will cost you EUR 7, but if you’re under 18 or over 70, there is no fee. You’ll need to have your passport handy when you fill out the form and a credit or debit card for the fee, if it applies to you.

You’ll be asked for some basic info about yourself, your travel plans, and maybe a few questions to ensure you’re not a security risk. Don’t stress, it’s pretty standard stuff.

Once you hit submit, most applications will be processed quickly (in a matter of minutes), but just to be on the safe side, don’t leave it until the last minute. It’s a good idea to apply well before your travel date, just in case there are any hiccups or if you’re asked to provide more information.

And that’s it! Once approved, your ETIAS authorization is your ticket to explore Europe, making it a breeze to hop from one country to another.

Validity and Rules of ETIAS

Once you get your ETIAS travel authorization, you’re almost ready to pack your bags and set off. But it’s important to know how long your authorization lasts and what it lets you to do:

Three-Year Validity: Your ETIAS authorization is good for up to three years, or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. Got a new passport? You’ll need a new ETIAS approval.

90 Days of Travel: With ETIAS, you can stay up to 90 days in any 180-day period in the participating European countries.

Multiple Entries Allowed: Feel free to hop in and out of the ETIAS countries as often as you like, adhering to the 90/180-day rule.

No Guarantee of Entry: While ETIAS clears you for travel, the final say still lies with the destination country’s border officials. They’ll check to make sure you meet all entry conditions upon arrival.

Knowing and understanding these rules will help you make the most of your ETIAS authorization and ensure your European travels go smoothly.

At the Border: ETIAS and Your Arrival in Europe

Getting your ETIAS authorization is a big step toward your European vacation, but what happens when you actually arrive? Here’s a quick rundown on what to expect.

Bring the Right Document: The passport you used for your ETIAS application should be with you. The ETIAS authorization is electronically linked to it, so having the correct document is key.

Expect a Quick Check: Border officials will scan your passport, automatically pulling up your ETIAS authorization. They’ll give it a quick review to make sure everything looks good.

Answer a Few Questions: Be prepared to answer basic questions about your trip, such as how long you plan to stay and what you’re planning to do. It’s standard procedure to ensure you meet the entry conditions.

Final Thoughts: Preparing for ETIAS

Now that you’re aware of this upcoming change to how you visit Europe, let’s review a few final tips to make sure you’re fully prepared:

Apply Early: Don’t wait until the last minute to apply for your ETIAS authorization. Receiving approval well in advance will minimize your stress as your trip approaches.

Check Your Passport: Since your ETIAS authorization is linked to your passport, be sure your passport is valid for at least three months beyond your planned departure from Europe. If you need a new passport during your ETIAS validity period, you’ll need to reapply for ETIAS.

Review Travel Insurance Options: ETIAS takes care of the security part of your travel, but comprehensive travel insurance helps protect you from the unexpected, from health emergencies to lost valuables. Make sure your entire trip is covered, including any prepaid, nonrefundable activities you plan to enjoy. Visit TravelInsurance.com to compare and buy travel insurance plans from top insurers.

Stay Informed: Remember, this is a new program that doesn’t start until mid-2025. In the meantime, keep an eye on official updates regarding ETIAS and travel regulations in Europe. Staying informed will help you navigate any changes smoothly and ensure your travel plans stay on track.

By following these steps and incorporating ETIAS into your travel planning, you can set the stage for an unforgettable European journey.


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