What is the difference between the Schengen visa and ETIAS?

ETIAS is a new digital travel permit for visitors who can travel currently to Europe visa-free. While, a Schengen visa is a visa that is needed to visit Europe, for travelers who are unable to travel to European Union visa-free countries. 

ETIAS Overview

The European Travel Information and Authorisation System were proposed to strengthen the security in the Schengen zone. Ranging from Venezuela to Albania, there are currently over 60 countries that are not in the EU but whose citizens can transit freely to and within Europe visa-free.  This means that nationals of these countries currently need just a genuine passport to travel to Europe and background information on these travelers is minimal or non-existent. With ETIAS, travelers will have to fill a detailed online application form and give personal details, such as criminal records to apply for ETIAS permits to travel to Europe. 

ETIAS applications are verified through security databases, including Interpol and Europol before authorization is given. Once an application is authorized, the ETIAS is digitally attached to the applicant’s passport. 

The Schengen Visa

The Schengen area is usually confused with the EU but there is a difference between both of them. 26 nations are belonging to the Schengen zone and many of these are part of the EU. Six exceptions are:

● United Kingdom

● Republic of Ireland

● Cyprus

● Croatia

● Bulgaria

● Romania

However, the following countries are part of the Schengen area but not members of the European Union:

● Iceland

● Norway

● Switzerland

● Lichtenstein

ETIAS versus Schengen Visa

Nationals of the 62 countries who presently do not need a visa to visit Europe will require authorization to travel. The authorization will either be a Schengen visa or an ETIAS. It is an either/or situation.

The important difference between ETIAS and Schengen visas

ETIAS is a digital system connected to the passport of the which permits him or her to enter and visit the EU but not necessarily the Schengen zone if the passport bearer is not an EU national.

A Schengen Visa is attached manually into the passport and permits a visit within the 26 member states.

Nonetheless, unlike ETIAS which permits travel throughout Europe, a Schengen Visa is particular to the Schengen state applied for and not essentially valid for other Schengen states. The Schengen visa permits a maximum duration of 90 days in the six months.

Application for ETIAS or a Schengen Visa

An application for ETIAS is processed online in about 20 minutes. The form needs basic personal details but also information regarding any world conflict area traveled to and any criminal record. 

The first destination country in Europe should be indicated. After a thorough verification through numerous security databases of the information supplied, acceptance or rejection is generally given within minutes however a manual verification can take weeks. 

An application for a Schengen Visa must be done physically at the embassy or ministry of the destination country. It usually takes 6 weeks or more before the visa is granted. Other prerequisites when applying for a Schengen Visa are:

● Passport must have no less than two blank pages for entry and exit stamps

● Passport must be genuine for the 3-month duration past the expiry date of the visa

In a situation of an application for a long-duration residence authorization, the passport must be valid until the expiry date of the visa.

Unlike ETIAS, which is only available in one electronic format, there are different types of Schengen Visa with different conditions and regulations.

  • Category A; gives permission for the bearer to travel through an airport in a Schengen state but not to live in that state or even leave the airport.
  • Category C; is a short duration visa for living in a Schengen member state and has further sub-classifications:
  • Single Entry Visa; permits the bearer to enter the Schengen zone once in a given period and expires once the bearer leaves.
  • Double Entry Visa; permits entry into and exit from the Schengen zone two times and expire at the second exit.
  • Multiple Entry Visa; permits multiple entries into and exits from the Schengen zone for up to a maximum of 90 days in each 180-day time frame.