A visa-like policy that would impact Canadians travelling to some European countries has been delayed for the third time.
The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) was first set to take effect in January 2021, and later pushed back to November 2023. But, in its latest announcement, a third delay to its implementation now states the program will come into effect in 2024.
When it takes effect, this new policy will require Canadians travelling for under 90 days to one of 30 countries in Europe to complete a visa-like application, the European Union Commission’s Migration and Home Affairs website states. It would cost approximately CA$10.
The EU is trying to implement an entry/exit system, an automated IT system registering travellers. However, the implementation of this system has now been pushed back to November this year, further delaying the ETIAS visa rollout.
Here is everything you need to know about the policy:
WHAT IS ETIAS?
ETIAS will require an application that will be needed before entering certain countries within the EU. It is linked to a person’s passport and valid for up to three years or until the passport expires, whichever comes first.
It will be required for nations, like Canada, Australia, the U.S., Mexico and more.
Travellers will need the visa to gain entry to 27 European countries, known as the Schengen area, and the addition of three other nations.
WHAT IS THE SCHENGEN AREA?
There are 27 countries that make up the Schengen area, with the exception of Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania, which will still use ETIAS.
These nations allow travellers to move freely without passing by internal borders. The Schengen area first launched in 1985 with five countries.
ETIAS will be required in 2024 before travelling to: 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 and Switzerland.
Internal border controls have not been lifted in Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania, the European Council’s website explains.
WHY IS THE EU IMPLEMENTING ETIAS?
Before the ETIAS requirements take effect in 2024, Canadians are able to enter the Schengen area at any of the Schengen area country’s borders and travel freely.
ETIAS is being implemented to identify any “security, irregular migration or high epidemic risks” posed by travellers entering the EU from visa-free countries, the European Union Commission’s Migration and Home Affairs website states.
WHO NEEDS AN ETIAS?
The European Union’s website says generally people will need ETIAS if they:
are not an EU national;
are a citizen of a country whose nationals are not required to have a visa for short-term stay in the European countries requiring ETIAS;
do not have a residence permit/card/document issued by any of the European countries requiring ETIAS
WHEN AND HOW DO I APPLY?
Canadians can fill out their own ETIAS application, or authorize a third party such as a friend, family member or travel agency to apply on their behalf.
The EU says it “strongly advises” people to obtain the ETIAS before tickets and accommodations are booked.
“Most applications will be processed within minutes and at the latest within 96 hours,” the EU’s website reads. “However, some applicants may be asked to provide additional information or documentation or to participate in an interview with national authorities, which may take up to additional 30 days.”
The documents are only needed for people over the age of 18 and under 70 years old.
The application will cost 7 euros, or about CAD$10.
Once the system is in place, border agents of the country of entry in the Schengen area will be able to access this information when the travellers arrives.