ETIAS – what is it and why will I need one?

Posted in General Travel Travel Insurance, Renewal on 10 October 2022

From 2024, UK residents will be required to obtain an ETIAS VISA waiver in order to travel to countries in the Schengen area. Many of you will have questions regarding this, none more so than what is an ETIAS VISA waiver, why do I need it, and what is the Schengen Area? We will explain all three of these in this article so that you are fully prepared once 2024 comes around.

What is an ETIAS VISA waiver?

ETIAS stands for “European Travel Information and Authorisation System” and has been created to strengthen Europe’s borders and aid in the identification of possible threats or risks associated with visitors.

It is important to state that ETIAS is an ‘Electronic Travel Authorisation’ NOT a VISA. An ETIAS waiver will be a mandatory requirement for anyone from a third country who is entering a Schengen Area country by air, land or sea. As the members of the Schengen Area acknowledge the abolishment of internal borders, you do not need a separate ETIAS waiver for each country you visit.

Each ETIAS VISA waiver will last for 3 years (or up to the date of passport expiry, whichever comes first) and will cover you for stays of up to 90 days in a 180-day period. The ETIAS waiver is designed for short term tourist, business, transit, and medical visits.

Should you need to apply for an ETIAS waiver, please ensure that you apply at least 96 hours before your scheduled departure. Applications can be made online via desktop, mobile, or tablet and should be processed within minutes.

Why do you need an ETIAS waiver?

Post Brexit, UK residents have continued to be able to travel to European countries VISA free. However, as the Schengen Area looks to tighten its border security, they have decided to implement a new border security measure similar to the USA’s ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) system.

As the UK is no longer a member of the EU, is not a part of the Schengen Area, and does not form a Common Travel Area (CTA) with anyone in the EU (except the Republic of Ireland), its residents are subject to any requirements the members of the Schengen Area decide to implement.

The UK will be a launch member of the ETIAS waiver which will be quicker and simpler to apply for compared to the Schengen VISA that UK citizens would require if the UK was not eligible for an ETIAS VISA waiver.

What is the Schengen Area?

The Schengen Area is a border free area which guarantees free movement between member countries. This allows citizens of member countries to travel, work, and live in any other member country without any special formalities such as VISA’s.

Those residing outside of the Schengen Area who wish to gain entry to the Schengen Area are required to apply for special formalities, such as an ETIAS VISA waiver or Schengen VISA.

Currently, 22 countries form part of the Schengen Area, these include:
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • Germany
  • France
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • Sweden
  • Finland
  • Denmark
  • Lithuania
  • Latvia
  • Estonia
  • Poland
  • Slovakia
  • Hungary
  • Slovenia
  • Italy
  • Greece
  • Czech Republic (Czechia)
  • Malta

However, there are other ‘non-EU Schengen member states’, ‘non-Schengen EU states’, and ‘Micro-states de facto part of the Schengen Area’ that will all also require an ETIAS waiver to enter once the system goes live, which is expected to happen in 2024.

Non-EU Member States
  • Iceland
  • Norway
  • Liechtenstein
  • Switzerland
Non-Schengen EU States
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Romania
Micro-States de facto part of the Schengen Area
  • Monaco
  • San Marino
  • Vatican City

By introducing the ETIAS VISA waiver, there will be an increase in security across the Schengen Area which will make travelling to one of more of these countries much safer as authorities will be able to pre-screen visitors from VISA-exempt countries without compromising their VISA-free status.

This means that dangerous individuals will be stopped from entering Schengen Area countries as well as individuals carrying contagious diseases who can be legally stopped from entering, reducing the likelihood of an epidemic.

What do you need in order to get an ETIAS VISA waiver?

To apply for an ETIAS waiver you will need a valid passport, an email address, and a credit or debit card to pay the application fee.

As part of the application process, you will also be required to provide;

  • Personal Information – such as full name, DOB, nationality etc…
  • Passport information
  • Current address
  • Intended first destination

It has been approximated that the application will take about 20 minutes to complete but this will depend on the number of additional fields you are required to fill in.

Where can I get an ETIAS VISA waiver from?

You can apply for your ETIAS VISA waiver from the ETIAS VISA waiver website which you can find here. As the system is not currently in place, you do not need to worry about applying for one right away. Applications will open from 2024 and the system is due to be in place sometime within the year.

Useful ETIAS Information

How much will an ETIAS waiver cost? - €7 but those aged under 18 or over 70 will not be charged.

Do I need an ETIAS waiver if I’ve got a Schengen VISA? – No. The ETIAS waiver is designed for citizens of countries who do not require a Schengen VISA but equally, are not part of the Schengen Area. Therefore, you will either require a ETIAS waiver OR a Schengen VISA but never both!

Will there be any other requirements alongside the ETIAS waiver to enter the Schengen Area? – Not currently, however, you will be required to have an e-passport that is machine readable, i.e. a passport that allows you to pass through an e-gate at airports.

The Republic of Ireland is in the Schengen Area, as a UK citizen will I need an ETIAS to travel there? – No. Ireland forms a CTA with the UK and under these terms, UK citizens can travel freely to the Republic of Ireland.

I have dual citizenship with an EU country, do require an ETIAS waiver? – No. You should use the passport of the EU country you have dual citizenship with to enter and exit the Schengen Area.

Travelling to the EU? Get Travel Insurance with Voyager Plus

If you are planning on visiting a European destination, then don’t forget the importance of having a high-quality Travel Insurance policy in place to protect you before you travel.

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You can get a Voyager Plus Travel Insurance quote by clicking the “Get A Quote” button on our website or by calling our helpful team on 01483 806 680.


This article is for information and entertainment purposes only. It does not constitute advice in any way. The information provided here is correct at the time of writing however please check the latest policy wording for the latest terms, conditions, and exclusions.

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