Thursday 20 February, 2020

Trinidadians will require ETIAS for Schengen states from 2021

Photo courtesy ETIAS Europe

Photo courtesy ETIAS Europe

Trinidad and Tobago citizens heading to Schengen countries will need to apply for European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) authorisation for short-stay visits from 2021. 

According to a 2018 release by the European Commission, starting from 2021 an ETIAS authorisation will be required for visa-exempt countries for short-stays in the Schengen Area (less than 90 days).

According to ETIAS Europe, the ETIAS visa is an electronic authorisation that allows visa-free nationals to board a carrier to travel to the Schengen Zone

The agency says based on the information submitted, the process will "assess if an applicant will pose a risk to the European Community in terms of migration, security or public health".

The applicant's information will be checked against an ETIAS watchlist which will determine whether the authorisation to enter Europe can be granted or refused.

ETIAS is part of an EU intergovernmental legislative initiative created to enforce the security of the Member States.

The difference between an ETIAS authorisation and a Schengen visa is that the process of the former is automated and centralized across the Schengen Area whereas a European visa is processed on a case-by-case basis by the visa officials of each Member State.

The ETIAS visa is similar to the ESTA of the USA or the eTA of Canada.

The European Union said the development is the result of recent terrorist attacks and immigration issues. 

"As agreed by many high-profile European officers, information of visa-free travellers should be gathered before they enter the Schengen Area. By implementing this, the European Union authorities will be able to control who crosses the borders."

"The principal of ETIAS is that it will allow the EU border-control officers to cross-check the information of travellers who enter the Schengen Area against all of the security systems that exist across the EU," the website said. 

The 26 Schengen countries are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.


5 things to know about ETIAS

1. ETIAS is not a visa; is valid for an unlimited number of entries

An ETIAS travel authorisation does not entail the requirements of a visa.

There is no need to go to a consulate to make an application, no biometric registration is needed and significantly less information is collected and assessed than during a visa application procedure.

Whereas, as a general rule, a Schengen visa procedure can take up to 15 days, and can in some cases be extended up to 30 or 60 days, the on-line ETIAS application only takes a few minutes to fill in.

The validity will be for a period of five years, significantly longer than the validity of a Schengen visa. ETIAS will be valid for an unlimited number of entries.

2. An ETIAS does not guarantee entry into the EU

The European Border and Coast Guard is in charge of the ETIAS visa in cooperation with Europol and other Member State authorities. Holding an ETIAS does not guarantee its holder entry to the EU as the decision to grant or refuse entry is made by the national border guards through an in-person screening process at the port of entry.

However, the ETIAS application is an automated system which will conduct prior checks in order to determine whether to issue or deny a request to the EU. This pre-verification process will facilitate and speed up border checks.

3. An ETIAS can be refused if the applicant poses a risk in terms of migration, security or public health

The application process is simple, immediate and can be done online. It only takes up to 10 minutes and costs €7. Each individual travelling in a group needs to be authorized. However, applicants under the age of 18 do not need to pay for the processing fee. Once an application is submitted, the ETIAS application system will:

- Verify the information provided by the applicants in advance of their travel to the external borders of the EU. Basic information of visa-free third country citizens will be collected such as identity, permanent residence address, contact details (emails and phone numbers). As to documentation requirements, applicants need to hold a valid passport issued by one of the countries in the visa-exempt list.

- From the given information, it will assess if an applicant will pose a risk to the European Community in terms of migration, security or public health. 

- Process automatically using the information on the application to cross-check against various EU information systems (such as SIS, VIS, Europol, Interpol, Eurodac, and so forth) and also against an ETIAS watchlist. It will determine whether the authorisation to enter Europe can be granted or refused.

- Issue or refuse the authorisation. If approved, the applicant will receive the ETIAS authorisation directly by email. In case of denial, an email with reasons for refusal will be sent.

4. Travellers should apply at least three days before departure

It is strongly recommended that you start to apply for an ETIAS at least 72 hours (3 days) prior to your departure. Although the authorisation is linked to your passport, it is advisable to bring your ETIAS authorisation email printout to the airport to prevent being denied boarding.

5. ETIAS can be revoked or annulled

The validity of the ETIAS visa application is strictly related to that of the passport used to complete the application. The ETIAS authorisation can be revoked and annulled if the conditions for issuing it no longer apply. Therefore, it is recommended to check the status of your ETIAS application a few days before your departure date.

If staying longer than 90 days, a Schengen visa is required through the country of entry. 

For more information on ETIAS, visit

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