The USA has it, and so too does Canada. And soon all Australian citizens travelling to the European Union (EU) for business or leisure purposes will need to apply for a similar visa waiver.
Currently, most Australians do not need a visa for short-term stays to enter the Schengen Zone for touristic, family, or business purposes, but that will change in two years time.
The ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) visa waiver program – a new security system being implemented to reduce illegal immigration and to better protect against terrorist threats, backed by the European Union – is expected to be fully implemented in 2021.
Australians will be eligible to travel to European countries but will require a travel authorisation, applied for online. Citizens will need to have a valid passport, email address, and a credit or debit card (for the 7 Euro application fee). Without these documents, potential travellers to the EU will be unable to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver.
With an approved ETIAS visa waiver, Australians will be granted authorisation to enter the European Schengen Zone for a period of three years. The ETIAS visa waiver for Australians intends to reduce travel restrictions while at the same time improving safety standards for international travel throughout the European Union.
ETIAS registration will require applicants to answer basic security questions and supply details about their intended travel plans, in much the same way they apply for ESTA to enter the United States.
Once approved, applicants will be sent ETIAS travel authorisation directly to their email address. Most travellers should receive their approved ETIAS visa waiver via email within 24 hours after filing.
Further restrictions on importing and exporting currency, perfume and alcohol between Europe and Australia, and the prohibition of firearms, will also come into effect in 2021.
Australian Federation of Travel Agents Chief Executive Jayson Westbury said the EU has been working towards the program’s launch for several years.
Along with Brits, eligible travellers from the US, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Australia will be fast-tracked through immigration checkpoints.