Last reviewed 18 January 2023

Recent news

18 January 2023 | Further to EU-LISA management board meeting, planned start date of Entry/Exit System (EES) delayed from May until end of 2023 (new date to be agreed in March 2023). Subsequently, introduction of ETIAS expected to be delayed from planned start date in November 2023 until spring/summer 2024.

16 January 2023 | Greece requires a pre-departure test travelling from China. All other countries within the EU/EFTA/UK reviewed and no changes since 12 January 2023 update.

12 January 2023 | Information on requirements travelling from China to some EU member states and the UK (England) added to our travel requirements database. See COVID-19 section below.

10 January 2023 | ETOA featured in Skift article emphasing business loss through poor visa processing turnaround. USA reported to be losing up to $12BN as a result.

9 January 2023 | ETOA comment on China outbound travel restrictions due to COVID-19.

Tourism depends on high quality visa facilitation and border processes to support economic recovery and encourage demand, particularly from emerging visa-requiring markets. Pre-COVID-19 pandemic, Europe’s share of global international tourism arrivals was declining. Only 17% of the EU’s visitors came from long-haul markets. The value of these visitors has been missed, and the appeal to them of non-European destinations will continue to grow. Meanwhile, maintaining Europe’s cross-border mobility requires political will as well as adequate infrastructure.

ETOA is active on visa policy, from Schengen, UK and Ireland processing, to informing members on cross-border travel requirements both intra-European and from outside Europe. If widespread public health controls are required again, they should be proportionate and co-ordinated such that those travelling with recognised credentials (such as digital vaccination certificates) can travel freely.

ETOA is also campaigning with other industry associations for UK Government to re-instate acceptance of EU ID cards for children under 18 (as well as waiving the need for a UK visa for children of visa-requiring nationality) on EU/EFTA school trips to the UK. Security of new EU ID cards is improving following European Commission regulation in August 2021.

 

ETOA’s policy objectives

  • An objective assessment of risk allowing more countries to have visa-waiver status
  • Intelligent reform to Schengen visa code and national governments visa policy including development of e-visas
  • Efficient and welcoming border processes, including travel documents and health credentials required

What we are doing

  • Collaborate with industry partners including Tourism Manifesto alliance
  • Work with European Commission, Parliament and national governments
  • Conduct origin market surveys and publish reports (more below)
  • Inform members on cross-border travel requirements (more below)

Operating in Europe: what do you need to know

Upcoming new border formalities

End of 2023, the Entry/Exit System (EES) and in spring/summer 2024 ETIAS currently expected to be introduced to enter the Schengen Area as well as some non-Schengen EU member states. The UK is also planning to introduce the requirement for an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) before 2025. More information below.

COVID-19 travel requirements

As of 16 January 2023, all countries within the EU/EFTA/UK no longer require covid certification to be shown for border entry, except when entering some countries from China.

To check the latest information on COVID-19 border protocols travelling for tourism and in-destination measures (such as wearing a face mask), please see weblinks in our downloadable travel requirements database below.


Travelling from China
(as of 16 January 2023)

Entry for tourism is permitted to all countries within the EU/EFTA/UK except Germany (due to reciprocity), where entry for tourism is only permitted for EU/EFTA citizens and family members resident in China.

While permitted entry, the following countries have implemented requirements for persons travelling from China (i.e. pre-departure test certificate, form completion, post arrival testing) following European Council recommendation to EU member states. Information on requirements for each country can be found in our database below as may differ from European Council recommendation.

EU member states – Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden

Non-EU member states – United Kingdom (England)

Travel Requirements

(version published 16 January 2023)

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Schengen Area

The Schengen Area remains one of the EU’s great success stories. Borderless travel between 23 EU and 4 non-EU states (EFTA) has transformed the offer of multi-country itineraries enjoyed by long-haul visitors in particular. If there is a serious threat to public policy or internal security (i.e. a pandemic), a Schengen country may exceptionally temporarily reintroduce internal border controls but is required to notify the European Commission (list of current internal border controls).

The introduction of the Entry/Exit System (EES) and European Travel Information and Authorisation Services (ETIAS) expected in 2023 (information below), is part of a long term strategy for the Schengen Area.

Countries within the Schengen Area – Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.

Croatia joined the area on 1st January 2023, from when Schengen visas have been issued by Croatia and border controls lifted when travelling by land and sea between Croatia and other countries in the Schengen Area. From 26th March 2023 border controls will be lifted when travelling by air between Croatia and other countries in the Schengen Area.

Schengen Visa policy

The European Commission is committed to further reform, including more digitalisation and has established a common visa policy for visitors to the Schengen Area not exceeding 90 days in a rolling 180 day period.

Annex II – List of countries whose nationals are not required to obtain a Schengen visa (‘visa-waiver’)

Annex I – List of countries whose nationals are required to obtain a Schengen visa. In certain cases, nationals are exempt from the visa requirement. For example, nationals of a third country listed in Annex I, residing in a country listed in Annex II, travelling as part of a school trip. See Article 6 (2.1) information on national derogations where this applies.

Visas for visits exceeding 90 days in a rolling 180 day period remain subject to national procedures.

ETOA visa impact surveys and reports

ETOA conducts origin market surveys with its members and publishes reports assessing current impact of Schengen visa processing. Its results help ETOA and policy makers map current problems and identify good practice: poor visa processing costs Europe valuable business.

Summary presentation from our survey in autumn 2022 on visa processing focusing on Asian origin markets can be found here and at the end of this page (also reported in our webinar on 24 November 2022). Initial findings suggest that Schengen Area countries as well as UK and Ireland need to improve services standards to avoid deterring high-spending Asian visitors.  

Non-Schengen Area EU member states

Bulgaria and Romania are applying large parts of the Schengen acquis but have not currently joined the Schengen Area. The European Commission support their inclusion (communication and press release on 16 November 2022) but unanimous support is required from Schengen member states. While border controls with countries in the Schengen Area have not been removed, when the Entry/Exit System starts (see below) time spent in Bulgaria and Romania will count towards the time limit in the Schengen Area (i.e. 90 days in rolling 180 day period).

The Schengen evaluation process to assess the readiness of Cyprus to join the Schengen Area is ongoing and a dedicated evaluation is scheduled for 2023.

Ireland maintains an opt-out and does not participate in the Schengen acquis related to external borders (i.e. 90 days in rolling 180 day period) or the abolition of internal EU border controls with existing countries in the Schengen Area. However, Ireland does participate in the Schengen acquis related to the Schengen Information System, police and judicial cooperation. For information on visiting Ireland and travel between Ireland and the UK, see below.

EES is an automated IT system for registering third country (non-EU/non-EFTA) nationals arriving as visitors into the Schengen Area or Bulgaria and Romania for short stays (max 90 in 180 days), both visa-exempt and visa-requiring.

Start date: planned to be operational from end of 2023 (date to be agreed in March 2023)

Countries implementing: Schengen Area + Bulgaria and Romania

Countries (EU) not implementing: Cyprus and Ireland

Applicable to: third country (non-EU/non-EFTA) nationals arriving as visitors for short stays (max 90 in 180 days), both visa-exempt and visa-requiring, of all ages although collection of biometric data varies by age. See question 1 in FAQs for exemptions.

Cost: Free

System: EES will replace manual stamping in a passport and enable use of e-gates. Collection of biometric data will be required:

Age 12 and above – facial image and fingerprints
Under 12 – facial image

The process to collect the biometric data may vary by country (i.e. at border or remotely). Further information is to be announced including on National Facilitation Programmes for frequent visitors.

Validity: Personal data collected is stored for 3 years and one day after leaving the Schengen Area (or Bulgaria, Romania) for majority of third country nationals. When re-entering the Schengen Area (or Bulgaria, Romania) within 3 years, either new facial image or fingerprints is collected.

Additional information: When EES starts, time spent in Bulgaria and Romania will count towards the time limit in the Schengen Area (i.e. 90 days in rolling 180 day period). See question 2 in FAQs.

Official website: European Commission EES webpage

ETIAS is a pre-clearance permit to be required by nationals of third countries (non-EU/non-EFTA) arriving as visitors into the Schengen Area or Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania, who do not require a Schengen visa (Annex II). For example, British (UK), Japan, USA.

Start date: planned to be operational from November 2023, but expected to be delayed until spring/summer 2024 (due to EES delay).

Countries implementing: Schengen Area + Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania

Countries (EU) not implementing: Ireland

Applicable to: third country (non-EU/non-EFTA) nationals of countries with Schengen visa-waiver status (Annex II). Third country nationals resident within the Schengen Area or non-Schengen EU member states (Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania) are to be exempt. Third country nationals resident in Ireland are not exempt (except British nationals resident in Ireland before 1 January 2021). Information on exemptions.

Cost: €7 per person aged 18-70 years old except family members of EU/EFTA citizens where applicable (under 18 and over 70 still need to apply even though free)

Validity: 3 years or until expiration of travel document i.e. passport, whichever is sooner. Multiple entries will be permitted during period of validity. A standard ETIAS travel authorisation allows travel to all countries that have implemented ETIAS.

Additional information: ETIAS required by nationals of a third country listed in Annex I, residing in a country listed in Annex II, travelling as part of a school trip where a visa is not required (see Article 6 (2.1) information on national derogations where this applies).

Background information: Unlike the USA equivalent (ESTA), the revenue will not contribute to tourism promotion. Following strong representation from industry, the fee is set at a level to cover costs including development of land border infrastructure as well as the system itself. ETOA and other associations took the view that seeking profit would penalise those who had chosen to visit Europe, and that promotion should be funded in other ways. Some confusion about scope and operation has arisen due to the proliferation of unofficial websites with URLs containing either Schengen or ETIAS.

Official website (including how to apply when launched): European Commission ETIAS webpage

Ireland and United Kingdom

Ireland and the UK (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) have a Common Travel Area (CTA) whose operation is unaffected by the UK’s departure from the EU allowing free movement for British and Irish citizens within the CTA. The CTA includes the Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

For non-British/non-Irish citizens the maximum length of time permitted to visit differs between Ireland (90 days) and the UK (6 months).

Ireland and UK Visa Policy

Taking into account the different time period, there is common visa policy between Ireland and the UK for certain nationalities such as the British Irish visa scheme for Chinese and Indian nationals. This scheme allows travel in Ireland and the UK for Chinese and Indian nationals on a single visa (either issued by Ireland or UK, usually the country of first arrival). Ireland also has a short-stay visa waiver programme that exempts nationals of certain countries who have a UK visa from needing an Irish visa when in Ireland (this programme is not reciprocated by UK Government).

ETOA visa impact surveys and reports

ETOA conducts origin market surveys with its members and publishes reports assessing current impact of Ireland and UK visa processing. Its results help ETOA and policy makers map current problems and identify good practice: poor visa processing costs Europe valuable business.

Summary presentation from our survey in autumn 2022 on visa processing focusing on Asian origin markets can be found here and at the end of this page (also reported in our webinar on 24 November 2022). Initial findings suggest that Schengen Area countries as well as UK and Ireland need to improve services standards to avoid deterring high-spending Asian visitors.  

Ireland and Northern Ireland (island of Ireland)

When travelling between Ireland and Northern Ireland, there are no immigration controls on the land border, but the traveller needs to check if a Irish/UK visa is required for their nationality in either country. For nationalities who do not require a UK visa, a pre-clearance permit is planned to be introduced before 2025 and to be required in Northern Ireland (see below: UK Electronic Travel Authorisation scheme).

For nationals of countries that are part of the EU or EFTA, a passport is not required arriving in Northern Ireland from Ireland (entering Ireland with an EU ID card is permitted). A passport is required when arriving in Northern Ireland from elsewhere, and for onward travel to Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales).

Further information:  Irish Government visa requirements | UK Government (visa requirements and border entry process)

ETA is a pre-clearance permit to be required by non-British/non-Irish nationals of countries arriving as visitors into the UK (including from Ireland), who do not require a UK visa (country not on this list). For example, countries within EU/EFTA (excluding Ireland), Japan, USA.

Start date: planned to be fully operational before 2025, the introduction date is still to be announced. UK Government Border Control Strategy Statement in July 2022 (paragraph 58) indicated the rollout would begin approximately March-July 2023 for nationalities of Middle East countries who currently require an electronic visa waiver and from approximately June 2023 for other UK visa-exempt nationals. As of January 2023, these start dates have not been confirmed.

Implementing country: United Kingdom (UK: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales)

Applicable to: non-British/non-Irish nationals of countries arriving as visitors into the UK, who do not require a UK visa (country not on this list). Discussions continue between Irish and UK Governments regarding exemptions for non-British/non-Irish nationals resident in Ireland.

Cost: to be confirmed, including any age-related applicability (the cost is expected to be within the range of US ESTA and EU ETIAS i.e. approximately £6-£20 per person. ETIAS price was set to cover costs, not generate revenue. ESTA was intended to generate revenue for promotional purposes. It remains to be seen what approach the UK will take.)

Validity: to be confirmed (our understanding is that it will last more than one year or until expiration of travel document, whichever is sooner). Multiple entries will be permitted during period of validity.

Background information: UK Government Border Control Strategy Statement (July 2022) and (May 2021)

Official website (including how to apply): not yet published

ETOA Visa Impact Surveys and Reports

Visa processing survey 2022

Take a look at the initial findings from our Visa processing survey. The full report and recommendations are due in 2023.

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Europe: Open for Business?

Impact survey on Schengen visa processing in origin markets: China and India, 2018. Report and Recommendations.

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Schengen visa processing in India

This impact survey presents high level preliminary findings from research conducted by ETOA between July and September 2018. It is intended to inform current debate on the reform of the Schengen Visa Code.

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Disclaimer: While best efforts have been made to verify the accuracy of the information, the information displayed on this page should be used as guidance only.