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ETIAS Visa Waiver for British Citizens: What You Need to Know

Starting in 2025, British citizens planning to visit the Schengen Area will need to navigate a new travel requirement – the ETIAS. Discover what the online European Travel Information and Authorization System is and understand its role in the post-Brexit world. We'll tell about its validity, its cost, the application process and why this change matters for your future European travels.

How to apply for EU ETIAS?

What is ETIAS?

ETIAS, or European Travel Information and Authorization System, is an EU Visa Waiver program that will be requested from UK citizens to enter the EU Schengen Area from 2025. ETIAS has to be applied for before travelling.

The launch of ETIAS, now postponed until mid-2025, will be followed by a transitional period of at least six months. This means that, for travel during this time, travellers should already apply for their ETIAS travel authorisation, but those without one will not be refused entry as long as they fulfil all remaining entry conditions.

What is the difference between ESTA and ETIAS?

Although they look similar, the ESTA and ETIAS refer to two different travel authorisations. The ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is a visa waiver that allows citizens from some eligible countries to travel to the US for a short period of time. Whereas, the ETIAS is only to be used to enter the EU.

How long does it take to get ETIAS?

Since the ETIAS application is online, the hassle of getting travel visas in person is reduced. The EU reports that applying for ETIAS will only take 10 minutes, and that most applicants will get approved within minutes. In case further checks need to be carried out, applicants can expect to wait up to 96 hours while their application is being reviewed.

Will I need an ETIAS?

From 2025, the travel authorisation will be a mandatory requirement to enter the Schengen Area. This means that as a UK citizen, you will not be allowed to enter any EU countries apart from Ireland without it. This is because, while Ireland is an EU member, it forms a Common Travel Area (CTA) with the United Kingdom. And the CTA’s terms allow UK citizens to travel to Ireland without travel authorization or visa.

How To apply for EU ETIAS

The ETIAS application will be a quick online process and most non-EU citizens could get approved within minutes. You will only have to complete an online application with your personal information and other details requested. Note that no biometric or fingerprint data will be taken when applying.

Documentation needed

Applicants will have to provide the following information and documents:

  • • Personal information (full name, date of birth, and gender)
  • • Contact details (an email address to help with correspondence)
  • • A valid UK passport
  • • A debit or credit card to pay the application fees

Applicants may also be asked additional questions on the application form regarding employment history; terrorism; human trafficking; criminal history; drug usage; security details; previous travel to the EU; and travel to conflict zones.

You may be refused entry to the Schengen Area if your lie on your application form or are seen as a current threat to the country you plan to visit. Note that UK passport holders with a criminal record will not be denied entry into the Schengen Area based on that reason only.

How long will ETIAS be valid for?

UK citizens with the ETIAS Visa will be able to travel multiple times to the EU in its 3-year validity period. However, the visa waiver holder will only be legally allowed to stay in the Schengen Area for 90 days every 180 days.

What can you use this visa for?

The ETIAS visa will only be valid if the holder uses it for business, tourism, leisure, transit, or medical care. If they wish to stay for other reasons like work or for longer than 90 days each 180 days, the UK citizen will need a different travel permit.

How much will ETIAS cost?

The ETIAS application will cost €7. The money will cover the administration and ETIAS processing costs. Once you pay the fee, you won’t spend any more money unless your passport or ETIAS expires. The application will be free for all under 18 and over 70 years old. You will incur an additional cost if you use a service to fast-track your ETIAS application.

A quick online travel authorisation to enter the EU

From the latter half of 2025, ETIAS becomes a key part of travel for British citizens visiting the Schengen Area. This visa waiver is valid for three years, but it requires a fresh application upon expiry or a change of circumstances. Please note that ETIAS can become invalid before the three-year validity period ends if you stay in the EU for more than the allowed 90 days every 180-days or if your reasons for travelling are other than transit, leisure, or business.

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