You may have heard chit-chat online or from your well-traveled friends about the new ETIAS Visa Waiver Program.
I know what you’re thinking – yet another document to worry about for your trip to Italy.
You want to think about tasting wine at Tuscan vineyards, exploring Greek ruins in Sicily, and gazing at the Colosseum in Rome… not filling out forms and applications.
However, don’t stress!
Important: ETIAS is not currently active, and the projected launch date is sometime in 2024. This information is based on the official European Union and European Commission websites. Feel free to visit them for all the below info.
What is ETIAS?
First of all, what exactly is ETIAS?
ETIAS is the abbreviation for European Travel Information and Authorisation System.
It’s a special authorization to travel that you receive by applying electronically before you travel to Italy or any of the European countries that require the ETIAS.
“The information gathered via ETIAS will allow, in full respect of fundamental rights and data protection principles, for advance verification of potential security, irregular migration of high epidemic risks.”-European Commission
The ETIAS is meant to:
- Save you time as a traveler
- Help manage ETIAS borders
- Help prevent crime and terrorism in ETIAS countries
- Prevent irregular migration
Basically, it’s a quick but thorough check on you – to make sure the ETIAS group wants to welcome you with open arms and let you wander around its territory freely.
After applying online, you’ll likely be issued your ETIAS immediately. In the rare case that further checks are needed, it may be up to 30 days before the ETIAS is issued.
When you depart for Italy, your ETIAS will be checked along with your passport and any necessary travel documents. When you land in Italy (or any other ETIAS country), your documents will be checked as they have been in the past, and the border agent will also check your ETIAS.
Not all travelers will be required to obtain the ETIAS. You do not need the ETIAS if, for example:
- You’re a national of an EU country that requires ETIAS
- You’re a national of a country that requires a visa to travel to one of the ETIAS countries
- You’re a national of the UK and part of the Withdrawal Agreement
- You have a residency (permit, card, etc) in any of the ETIAS countries
There are many more examples that can be found on the list of exemptions on the official EU website.
Good To Know: Once you have your ETIAS, you can use it for multiple trips to ETIAS countries, for up to three years OR until your passport expires (whichever comes first).
It may sound like the ESTA Visa Waiver program that travelers get for entry into the United States. In fact, it is similar – it’s just for entry into the Schengen States (not the US).
Good To Know: ETIAS is not a visa.
Which Countries Require ETIAS for Entry?
It’s utilized by the countries of the Schengen zone, which allows its citizens to travel freely without using a passport or visa AND three additional European countries (Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Romania).
Italy is one of the 27 Schengen countries. The others are:
- Czech Republic
So, with the addition of the three non-Schengen countries listed above, there are 30 European countries that will require ETIAS travel authorization.
Will You Need an ETIAS Travel Authorization for Your Trip to Italy?
If you’re traveling from a non-EU, visa-exempt country, you’ll need the ETIAS.
For example, travelers from the United States can currently travel visa-free to Italy and stay for 90 days. You’ll still be able to do so, but when ETIAS becomes active (projected 2024), you’ll be required to have the ETIAS travel authorization to enter Italy (or any other country that requires ETIAS).
You can see the list of countries on the official European Union Website.
How To Get the ETIAS for Italy
Sit tight for now, as the ETIAS is not yet active, and there is no official date for its launch. The European Commission’s official webpage on ETIAS lists a projected launch date of 2024.
Once the ETIAS system is active, you’ll apply for the ETIAS online, pay the fee, and receive the response (granted or rejected) online (likely immediately).
Your ETIAS will be checked before departure (for example, when you’re checking in for your flight) and when you arrive in an ETIAS country (for example, when your passport is checked by a border agent at your arrival airport).
Info Needed for the ETIAS for Italy
When applying for the ETIAS travel authorization, expect to enter:
- Personal data
- Passport info
- Which ETIAS country you’ll stay in first
- Background questions (for example, criminal record, presence in a conflict zone, etc.)
How Much Will ETIAS Cost?
The application for the ETIAS travel authorization is expected to cost 7€ for travelers between the ages of 18 and 70 (inclusive). There will be exemptions for some travelers.
Getting your documents ready for Italy? You may want to read:
Can I Rent a Car in Italy with a US License?
International Driving Permit for Italy – Why & How to Get One
First time to Italy? 10th? Either way, you’ll want to check out our 200+ Essential Italy Travel Tips!
ETIAS for Italy FAQ
You do not need to print your ETIAS, as it is stored electronically, but if you feel better having a paper copy with you, you may.
No, you do not need an ETIAS for a trip to Italy in the summer of 2023. The ETIAS system is not expected to be active until sometime in 2024.
No, once you’ve got your ETIAS, it’s valid for either 3 years, or until your passport expires (whichever comes first).
Yes, everyone who wants to enter an ETIAS country must fill out the online application. If your children are under 18, they do not need to pay the application fee.