Citizens of the US, Australia, Canada, Israel, and the UAE are among those who will be impacted by the new travel regulations.
Rabat – Beginning in 2021, the EU Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) will require travelers from visa-exempt countries to pay a fee to receive an ETIAS travel authorization before they can enter Europe’s Schengen Area.
Nationals of 62 countries and territories can currently travel to most European countries visa-free, while travelers from 104 countries and entities need to obtain a visa to enter Schengen countries for up to three months.
The new ETIAS visa waiver will only apply to citizens of countries such as the US, Australia, and Canada who currently do not need a visa to access the Schengen Area.
While the regulations will impose new restrictions on currently visa-exempt travelers, the application process can be completed in minutes and will likely have lower fees than those associated with the Schengen visa.
Moroccans and nationals from the other 104 countries, including most countries throughout Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, will still need to apply for Schengen visas.
What is ETIAS?
ETIAS refers to an electronic system that keeps track of visitors from visa-exempt countries.
Similar to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ETSA) that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the US, ETIAS aims to strengthen border control and security around the Schengen Area.
More than 30 million non-Europeans travel to the Schengen Area visa-free every year.
ETIAS will soon require nationals from 60 countries to obtain authorization to travel to the Schengen Area. Citizens of the US, Australia, Canada, Israel, and the UAE are among those who will be impacted by the new travel regulations.
The list of ETIAS eligible countries is subject to change.
Beginning in 2021, eligible nationals planning to visit the Schengen Area must submit an online ETIAS visa waiver application to receive travel authorization for business or touristic purposes.
The ETIAS application fees have the potential to bring over €500 million to the European authorities annually.
The ETIAS visa is not a substitute for a student or working visa. Those looking to live, study, work, or reside in Europe longer than 90 days need a different type of visa.
How is ETIAS authorization different from the Schengen visa?
The Schengen and ETIAS visas are short-stay permits that allow holders to travel to the 26 European countries known as Schengen states for up to three months. Because the ETIAS countries and the Schengen countries are the same, an ETIAS visa is effectively a Schengen visa.
The difference lies in the application process, fees, validity periods, and who is eligible for which visa.
ETIAS applicants will only need a valid passport, credit card, and travel plans. An estimated 95% of applicants will receive travel authorization within minutes of applying online.
Schengen applicants currently need to submit their applications in person at the appropriate embassy, consulate, or visa center; however, online applications will become more widespread in 2020.
To apply for a Schengen visa, travelers need to present their application form, two recent photos, a valid passport, travel plans, travel insurance, proof of accommodation, proof of financial means, and proof of a paid visa fee. Some Schengen country embassies may require further documentation.
While Schengen visas expire after three months, the ETIAS validity period is three years. The ETIAS allows holders to take several trips to the Schengen Zone within three years.
Nationals who need Schengen visas to travel to Europe, including all African countries and most countries in the Middle East and Asia, will not benefit from ETIAS.
What is the Schengen Area?
The Schengen Area is not synonymous with the EU.
The EU is a political and economic union consisting of 28 member states. The Schengen Area refers to 26 European countries, 22 of which are EU members, that have officially abolished all border control at their mutual borders to allow for unrestricted travel across Europe.
Ireland and the UK are currently members of the EU, but they are not Schengen states.
Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania are members of the EU, but they have not yet joined the Schengen Area. They are legally obliged to join the agreement in the future.
Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland are not in the EU, but they are Schengen members.
The micro-states of Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City are included in the Schengen Area.
What does this mean for Morocco?
Citizens of countries like Morocco who need to apply for a Schengen visa to visit Europe will not be eligible for the ETIAS visa waiver. Moroccans hoping to travel to Europe should apply for a Schengen visa as usual.
In 2020, the new Schengen visa code will raise application fees, extend the period for submitting applications, and offer electronic application options in most countries.
Schengen visa applicants will need to pay a fee of €80 (MAD 855) per application rather than the current rate of €60 (MAD 641). Applications for children aged 7 and older will cost €40 (MAD 427) rather than €35 (MAD 374). Children 6 years old and younger will remain exempt from fees.
The Schengen visa is one of the world’s most sought-after visas. The consulates of the 26 Schengen member states received more than 16 million applications in 2018.
Moroccans spent more than than $44 million (MAD 424 million) on 662,586 Schengen visa applications in 2018. Nearly $8 million (MAD 77 million) of the total came from applicants whose visas had been denied.
This content is sponsored by ETIAS Visa Waiver for Europe.