Visiting Europe: ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System)

Passengers at the airport

Beginning in 2021, Canadians, Americans, and citizens from 59 other countries intending to travel for leisure or business to one or more countries in the European Union’s Schengen area will need to submit an application online through the “ETIAS” (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) prior to departure. If the application is not approved, the traveler will not be able to enter the country when arriving by air, boat, or ground. Citing security as the primary concern, the ETIAS is a way for Schengen zone countries to detect if a person poses a security threat prior to them arriving.

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

A market in Aix-en-Provence
A market in Aix-en-Provence

In addition to personal and travel document information, ETIAS will ask questions about your background as related to: public health risks, criminal records, previous refusals of entry/an order to leave the territory of a Member State, travel to conflict zones, etc.  Similar to Canada’s eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization), applications and payment will be accepted online and will only take about 10 minutes.

ETIAS Process from the European Commission's official website
ETIAS Process from the European Commission’s official website


The cost to apply for approval through the ETIAS is approximately 8 Euros; only applicants 18 years and older will need to pay fee. Those under the age of 18 still need to apply but are exempt from the fee.

Once approved, it is valid for 3 years or until the end of the validity of your travel document (most likely passport). While ETIAS is valid for 3 years, it is only valid for stays up to 90 days. The minimum period of validity of your travel document, most likely a passport is at least 6 months; don’t apply if your passport will apply in 6 months or less.

Overall, the ETIAS shouldn’t affect your travel to Europe, although it is a bit of a nuisance and administrative hassle. When we checked in for our Interjet flight from CUN – Cancun to YVR – Vancouver, visitors to Canada who didn’t have an eTa were not granted boarding passes until they had one approved, which they did online while waiting in line. We don’t recommend waiting until the last minute like these people did because if you miss your flight, it is your responsibility to buy a new ticket as the air carrier will not always help you out for reasons like this.

Whenever you are visiting a foreign country, always make sure to look up the entry requirements from a valid source and to plan ahead to give yourself enough time to obtain the required documentation. We also always bring our itinerary information with us in printed format to show airline and immigration officials and keep electronic copies of these documents, and our passports in a secure location.

Are you familiar with ETIAS for travel to Europe and the eTA for travel to Canada? Have you ever had to apply for travel authorization online? If so, how was the process?

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