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EU visa on arrival - changes coming in 2021 (Vienna)

If you’ve traveled to the US for business or holidays in the past, you may have had to undergo the ESTA travel authorization program online. After successfully submitting certain information, your entry at a border crossing would have been pre-approved, provided that authorities did not find any red flags in your data.

To date, the EU does not have a comparable program. Currently, citizens of 61 non-EU countries (among them citizens of many North and South American and Asian countries as well as Australians) are allowed to obtain a visa on arrival when entering one of the EU member states which are also part of the Schengen Agreement. This group of travellers may stay in the Schengen Area for up to three months based on their visa on arrival.

This system is likely to change as the EU will implement the EU Travel Information & Authorization System (in short “ETIAS”) in the beginning of Protected content Similar to the ESTA system, ETIAS will require the aforementioned foreign citizens (above the age of Protected content previously were exempt from visa pre-approval to submit their data for checks by EU authorities ahead of traveling.

The ETIAS authorization can be obtained online for a fee of 7 EUR and should only take a few minutes to process. Once approved, the ETIAS will be sent to the applicants’ email addresses and has a validity of three years.

The data ETIAS asks of prospective visitors to the EU comprises

biometric and personal data;
contact details;
valid passport details;
a health self-assessment; as well as
a criminal record self-assessment.

ETIAS is one of the measures by which EU authorities aim at combating terrorism and criminal activities. Accordingly, the applicants’ data will be compared with no-fly lists and data bases of EUROPOL and other European intelligence and police units. Should the initial automated review procedure result in any red flags, the application will be screened thoroughly by an EU immigration and border patrol agent. In case it is denied, the applicant will receive an email with explanations on why the ETIAS application was not successful.

Travelers intending to enter the EU will have to be in possession of a valid ETIAS authorization before boarding their vessel (be it bus, ship, or plane). With a valid ETIAS in hand, they will also be able to cross borders between EU Member States, although they may be subject to additional border controls.

If you are currently enjoying the right of trips to the EU without getting a visa pre-approved, better make a mental note of the future requirements. This way you'll avoid disappointments at the airport.

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