From 2021 travellers from down-under will need to have an approved ETIAS visa waiver associated with a valid passport.
Keeping up with European Union’s new visa requirements for down-under travellers is easy.
Until now, New Zealanders and Australians along with citizens of around sixty other countries, have only been required to present a valid passport, in order to enjoy short stays of up to 90 days in the Schengen open borders area in the European Union (EU).
However, from a launch date in 2021, which is yet to be finalised, travellers from down-under will need to have an approved ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) visa waiver associated with a valid passport to present at their first port or airport of arrival in the territory.
According to the EU, the new system’s key function is to verify if a third country national meets entry requirements in the 26 Schengen countries.
It’s been conceived as part of an initiative to strengthen external borders and enhance security within the EU by pre-identifying travellers with connections to terrorism, cybercrime, fraud, money laundering, child exploitation, people smuggling and other antisocial activities.
The system will be similar to the ESTA visa waiver, which is currently required for visitors to the United States, and will operate along the same lines.
Obtaining the ETIAS pre-travel waiver – which is valid for three years from the date of authorisation or until the applicant’s current passport expires, will involve completing a straight-forward online application; supplying name, address, contact numbers, occupation and passport and itinerary details.
Potential travellers who are applying for the waiver will also be asked about their current state of health, and whether they have any criminal convictions.
The information that is gathered will be assessed via an automatic Euro Entry Exit IT system (EES), which will look for any risks associated with the application, in association with far-reaching international investigational organisations such as Interpol and Europol.
If there is a ‘hit’ in this assessment, manual processing will be undertaken by ETIAS staff, and a face-to-face interview at the consulate of the first Schengen country on the applicant’s itinerary may be required.
It’s possible that the application will be rejected at this point and it’s also important to note that even if approval is granted, a person of concern may still be turned away at the border.
As a general rule, however, it is expected that the vast majority of applications will be approved within minutes, and payment of a processing fee will be required to complete the procedure.
The new requirement, which aims in part to minimise any disruption caused by the United Kingdom’s recent ‘Brexit’ from the European Union, will allow eligible travellers to circulate for up to 90 days out of any 180-day period, within stated boundaries, including France, Germany, Spain, and Italy.
The waiver is not required for travel to the United Kingdom or Ireland, and while Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania aren’t currently Schengen countries, they are expected to join up in future.
Although they’re not part of the European Union, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein will also require visitors from Australia and New Zealand to obtain an ETIAS waiver.
Modern technology is being utilised to make these new obligations as easy as possible to adhere to, and travellers to relevant countries in Europe can expect minimal inconvenience as long as they have kept themselves well-informed.