Recent official declarations by European officials confirm that ETIAS (the European Travel and Information Authorization System) will come into effect starting from late 2022. The visa waiver for Europe was until now expected to be launched in 2021.
When the program will come into full force, citizens from over 60 countries that now enjoy visa-free status will need to register in the system and obtain an ETIAS authorization before travelling to Europe.
This applies also to tourists planning a trip to Italy, as this popular destination is a Schengen member state.
The European Commission gave details on how the system will be implemented.
What is ETIAS and Who Needs to Get One?
Currently, nationals of over 60 non-EU countries are eligible to be admitted into Italy without a visa. Among these are the holders of a passport issued by the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
ETIAS is not a visa, but rather an online authorization system aimed at improving the security of the Schengen zone as well as making the screening processes at the border quicker and smoother.
Travelers who don’t need an Italian travel permit now will still enjoy visa-free status after 2022. However, they’ll need to sign up for ETIAS online prior to departure and show a valid ETIAS authorization to the Italian border control officers (if entering the Schengen area via Italy).
How to Apply for ETIAS for Italy
The application process is designed to be very quick and easy to complete. ETIAS applicants should be able to lodge their request online in a matter of minutes.
All they’ll need is:
- A working internet connection and current email address
- An eligible and valid passport for visa-free travel to Europe
- A completed application form (this will be accessed via the same ETIAS portal)
- Credit or debit card details to pay for the processing fee
After the application is complete and submitted, foreigners should receive the approved ETIAS via email within hours or days. No need to visit the Italian embassy or consulate nor to fill out long paperwork.
When Will Travellers Need to Apply for ETIAS?
ETIAS will be a mandatory requirement for entering the Schengen area (and therefore, Italy) from the end of 2022. However, it will still be possible to travel to Italy visa-free during an initial transition period.
The following is a provisional ETIAS timeline as explained by the European authorities:
- ETIAS will be launched at the end of 2022
- For the first 6 months, non-EU, visa-free citizens will be able to visit Italy without a travel authorization. However, the border officials will be obliged to inform travelers that they’ll soon need an ETIAS visa waiver (this will be called transition period)
- During the following 6 months, a grace period will still see some visitors exempt from the requirement. Although ETIAS will be mandatory, third-country nationals without the travel authorization will be still let into Europe provided that they are crossing the external borders for the first time since the end of the transition period.
- The grace period may be extended for a maximum of 6 months.
The European Commission intends to provide international travellers with plenty of time and information so that they can enjoy their Italian holidays hassle-free.