Introducing the EU’s upcoming ETIAS visa waiver system
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Are you a Brit, American, Australian or Canadian who is thinking about visiting the Netherlands, perhaps as part of a decision to emigrate to the home of windmills, tulips and Edam cheese?
If so, under the European Union’s (EU) existing rules, you’re exempt from needing a visa authorisation to enter the Netherlands, which makes things easy if you’re frequently coming and going to decide whether you want to live in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Maastricht or The Hague.
New visa waiver system ETIAS from 2024
However, from 2024 onwards, the EU will introduce its new ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) visa waiver system. From then on, you’re eligible to apply for a visa waiver online in advance to visit the Netherlands or any other of the 26 Member States that comprise the EU’s Schengen Area.
This will apply to you if you’re from the UK, USA, Australia, Canada, Japan or around 60 other countries whose citizens are presently exempt from needing permission to enter the Netherlands.
The ETIAS travel pass will be valid for up to three years from the date of issue. You’ll be permitted to visit the Netherlands or any other part of the Schengen Zone for up to 90 days per trip during a 180-day period.
For example, this means that you can fly to the Netherlands and spend up to three months per trip house-hunting for when you emigrate. However, you can’t then fly to the UK (outside the Schengen Zone), fly back to the Netherlands the next day, then begin another three-month stay in Holland. Instead, you must wait for the start of the next 180-day period.
Also, the ETIAS will be a Multiple Entry visa waiver. This means that you can enter and exit the EU’s Schengen Zone as many times as you wish during each visit’s 90-day maximum period.
Applying for an ETIAS waiver
Fortunately, although the ETIAS scheme adds an extra layer of bureaucracy for many nationalities hoping to visit Europe, the EU is taking steps to simplify the application process as much as possible. You can apply online and you’ll just need the following:
- A valid email address, because you’ll receive your ETIAS waiver in your email inbox.
- A passport that’s valid for at least 6 months from when you start your trip.
- To enter some personal information and passport details.
- To enter the first Schengen Area Member State you intend to visit (the Netherlands).
- To answer the EU’s health and security questions, for Interpol and Europol.
- To pay for your application. It’s thought that the ETIAS will cost 7 euros per person.
It’s believed that applying will take just around 10 minutes, from any internet-connected device. Importantly, children under the age of 18 and adults over 70 will be exempt from paying the ETIAS fee. However, they’ll still require a valid visa waiver to be permitted entry to the Netherlands.
Linked to your passport
The ETIAS is an Electronic Visa (eVisa) waiver. So, this means that, once your application is approved and you receive confirmation in your email inbox, it’s not strictly necessary to print the authorisation to take with you to the airport. Instead, your waiver is digitally linked to your passport. So, all you’ll have to do is present your passport as normal to be allowed entry.
The EU’s waiver will be valid for up to three years or when your passport expires, whichever comes first. It’s thought that when your ETIAS nears the end of its validity period, you’ll be eligible to apply for a new one up to 120 days before it expires. The handy thing is that you’ll be allowed to do so from within the Schengen Area, so if you’re in the Netherlands at the time, you won’t have to leave to obtain a new waiver.
As we mention, the ETIAS is only valid for short-term trips to the Netherlands, so it’s useful when you’re visiting ahead of when you emigrate. To live permanently in the Netherlands, you’ll require an alternative visa.
Also, around 60 nationalities will be eligible for the ETIAS, as explained above. Alternatively, if you’re a citizen of an EU or Schengen Area Member State, you can continue to enter and exit the Netherlands as you please. If you’re from neither an ETIAS-eligible country nor an EU / Schengen country, you require a Schengen Visa to visit the Netherlands. This includes people from India, South Africa and China, among citizens of over 100 other countries.
You can find out more online or by visiting your nearest embassy or consulate.