Every Australian passport holder wishing to travel to the European countries of the Schengen Area will soon need to register online. Starting in January 2021, an online registration will be mandatory for every Australian and the citizens of some other 60+ countries, including Canada and the USA, that want to enter this territory in Europe.
In November 2016, the European Commission introduced a proposal on the establishment of a new scheme. This new scheme is called the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). It aims to strengthen borders and improve security, by having a register of those coming to the Schengen countries.
The Schengen Area is a territory of 26 countries, 22 of which are members of the European Union. It includes France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, but not the United Kingdom.
Last week a website claimed that the ETIAS is “a visa”, thus sparking confusion among online media and readers. However, the ETIAS is not a visa. It is a travel authorization similar to the Australian Electronic Travel Authority (ETA), the Canadian Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), or the US Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).
The European Union itself reacted to such statements, and pointed out at the ETIAS is in fact only a lighter and more visitor-friendly regime, and not a visa.
“An authorization will be obtained through a procedure that is simple, cheap and fast; in the vast majority of cases, an authorization should be given in a matter of minutes. The authorization, the application for which will not take more than ten minutes to fill in and which only requires a valid travel document, will be valid for a period of five years and for multiple travels.” the EU highlights. It also explains that the ETIAS is nowhere near a regular visa, which requires much more procedures and higher fees.
Australian citizens over the age of 18, wishing to travel to any of the Schengen Area countries, will need to pay a fee of €7 for the ETIAS. The authorization will be valid for five years and multiple entries. However, the permitted period of stay for Australians will still be a maximum of 90 days within six months.