British travellers heading to Schengen EU countries will have to start paying a €7 visa fee by the end of 2022, the European Commission has confirmed.
The change adds another step to travellers’ growing list of pre-holiday admin, including Covid testing, checking vaccine validity and booster shots, and keeping on top of green and red list travel updates.
Known as ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation Scheme), it will allow citizens of 61 countries to visit the Schengen Area with travel pre-authorisation rather than a full visa. This includes the UK, which is now considered a third country after Brexit.
Like the American Esta visa-waiver system, travellers have to pre-register their details and pay the fee before travelling. The authorisation will then be valid for three years, or until your passport expires.
Previously, as EU citizens, Britons benefited from freedom of movement across the EU. For short stays in the UK of up to 90 days, travellers won’t need an EU visa, but must apply for ETIAS.
The ETIAS scheme was originally due to start in January 2021, but the European authorities later announced a postponement of the scheme’s launch date.
Where do I apply for the ETIAS visa waiver?
It’s not currently possible to register for ETIAS. Confusingly, there are already a number of non-official websites sharing information about ETIAS. They may look similar to official government websites, and may offer you the opportunity to sign up for a notification when the scheme begins. But it’s always best to get your information straight from the European Commission website.
Be wary of third-party sites offering to do the leg-work for you, and remember that the expected fee should be €7 (£6).
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Do I need an ETIAS in 2022?
The European Commission has confirmed it expects the scheme to launch by the end of 2022, and will be mandatory by 2023.
I’m travelling from Ireland – do I also need an ETIAS waiver?
No. Though it isn’t part of the Schengen area, Ireland remains part of the European Union (unlike Northern Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland). Those travelling to EU countries from Ireland for short stays won’t need a visa or an ETIAS waiver.
Where will I need an ETIAS to travel to?
You’ll need the ETIAS visa waiver to travel to all Schengen area states, plus non-Schengen area microstates such as Andorra and Monaco. The exhaustive list includes:
- San Marino
- Czech Republic
- Vatican City