More than 60 nations whose citizens can visit the Schengen Area without a visa will soon be required to submit an Electronic Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) travel authorization application before entering any of the European Union member states.

However, many online sources, including reputable publications, have repeatedly claimed, intentionally or unintentionally, that "ETIAS is a visa."

Of course, ETIAS is not a visa. European Union officials have been relentless in their insistence that the new requirement for citizens of more than 60 countries to visit Schengen Area member states, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania is in no way comparable to a visa.

The European Union (EU) already warned this in an article in which it tries to dispel common misconceptions about ETIAS, as follows:

"ETIAS is not a visa. The United States, Canada and Australia require similar travel authorizations for visa-exempt nationals. Unlike applying for a visa, travelers will be able to apply for ETIAS online, will not have to go to a consulate to apply, and no biometric data will be collected as part of the application process."

To help you distinguish between ETIAS and a visa, below I compile a list of key distinctions, providing explanations for each.

ETIAS Schengen Visa
Application Process Completely online, it only takes a few minutes! It takes weeks, or even months, and includes an online appointment and an in-person interview.
Appointment/interview No Yes, and often they must be done months in advance.
Necessary documents No Yes
Fee 7€ 80 € + visa center processing fees
Rejection rate Below 3% 18% in 2022
Decision waiting period Normally, in a matter of minutes Typically 3 to 5 weeks
Validity 3 years It varies from a few days to five years.
Fingerprints / Biometrics No Yes

Who may need it?

Who needs an ETIAS and who needs a Schengen visa is the main distinction or difference between the two.

Visitors from more than 60 countries, including the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, New Zealand, etc., who are now exempt from obtaining a visa to enter the European Union, must instead obtain an authorization (ETIAS).

Application procedures

The steps required to apply for an ETIAS are simple and quick. Each application should take about five minutes.

The form will only require basic information from the applicant, such as name, surname, date of birth, nationality, postal address, e-mail address, telephone number, place of work, level of education and reason for first visit to the Schengen Area.

Obtaining an ETIAS does not require an interview or paperwork.

However, obtaining a Schengen visa requires considerable additional effort.

First, travelers must schedule a visa appointment online, which can take weeks to obtain due to high demand. After arranging an interview, applicants for a Schengen visa will need to gather a number of documents, depending on the nature of their trip (tourist, family visit, business, etc.).

The list includes documents such as health insurance cards, airline itineraries, bank statements, etc. In addition, the applicant must go to the embassy or visa center to present the documents and provide fingerprints.

Payment of fees

ETIAS fees are much lower than Schengen visa fees. The fee for a Schengen visa is EUR 80, which is about 11 times more than the ETIAS fee of EUR 7.

If the applicant submits his Schengen visa application through a third party to whom the Schengen Member has outsourced the acceptance of visa applications, the applicant will have to pay an additional cost.

The average of these costs is about 30 Euros, but may vary from one visa center to another. There are additional fees for requesting that your passport be sent to you. The applicant may choose not to pay for the service, in which case he/she must return in person to the visa center to collect the decision once it has been made.

However, once the ETIAS application has been finalized, the applicant will receive an email confirming acceptance.

Waiting times

Once ETIAS is operational, the EU says most applications will be processed within minutes and applicants will receive an instant email response.

However, in the rare situation where EU security systems flag the applicant as a potential danger to EU security, the application could take up to 30 days to complete.

On the other hand, the processing time for a Schengen visa is usually approximately 15 working days. But this timeframe is subject to change depending on the current workload of consulates.


An ETIAS travel authorization will be valid for 3 years or until the passport on which it was issued expires, whichever comes first. Whichever comes first. All ETIAS permits are valid for a certain number of round trips. As long as visitors do not overstay, they can use them as long as they wish.

Schengen visas can be valid from a few days to 5 years. They can have one or several entries.

Acceptance rates

The percentage of applicants whose Schengen visa applications were denied amounted to a record 17.9% in 2017. However, estimates put the percentage of refused ETIAS applications below 3%.

Only 3% of applicants will have to go through multiple EU security systems, such as the Schengen Information System (SIS), the Visa Information System (VIS) and the Entry/Exit System (EES), reports the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex). They will be authorized within minutes if there is no suspicion that the applicants pose a danger to the EU.

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