A new immigration process, set to commence in 2020, called the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) will become a mandatory requirement for Malaysians prior to entering Europe's Schengen Area
The ETIAS is an online authorisation that only applies to citizens who are from countries that enjoy visa-free access to the EU.
With a valid ETIAS authorisation, each citizen from the visa-free countries can stay in the Schengen Area for a period of up to 90 days.
It is not a visa because the process of an ETIAS authorisation is automated and centralised across the Schengen Area whereas an EU visa is processed on a case-by-case basis by the visa officials of each Member State.
So while Malaysians can still enjoy the privilege to access the EU without an entry visa, ETIAS will become a mandatory requirement as part of an EU intergovernmental legislative initiative created to enforce the security of the Member States.
This also affects Singaporeans and citizens of around 60 countries who can enter the 33 countries in the Schengen Area for short trips without first applying for a visa.
The ETIAS application process can be done online. It is valid for 3 years and will cost 7 Euros (approx RM32.50).
According to EtiasEurope.eu, once an application is submitted, the ETIAS system will verify the information you have provided and will automatically process the application to cross-check against various EU information systems (such as SIS, VIS, Europol, Interpol, Eurodac, and so forth) for security purposes.
After having determined if an authorisation to enter the EU can be granted to you, the ETIAS system will then issue or refuse the authorisation.
If the system approves your application, you will receive the authorisation directly by email. However, in case of denial, an email with reasons for refusal will be sent.
While the process is simple and will take about 10 minutes, it is strongly recommended that you start to apply for an ETIAS at least 3 days prior to your departure.
While applying for ETIAS, you will need to provide your criminal record and details of your trips to conflict zones
Here's the information you will be required to share:
Your personal details like name, sex, date and place of birth
Home address, contact information, nationality, travel document information
Inform authorities of any convictions for serious criminal offences.
Examples include terrorism, sexual exploitation of children, trafficking in human beings or drugs, murder and rape.
You must also reveal details, if any, of stays in specific conflict zones and of any prior administrative decisions requiring you to leave a country, all over the last ten years.
After the authorisation of your ETIAS application is done, there are a couple of things you need to take note of:
1. Make sure to carry a printout of your ETIAS authorisation, even though it is linked to your passport. Without the email printout, you might be denied boarding at the airport.
2. The validity of the ETIAS is strictly related to that of the passport used to complete the application. Meaning if you're travelling in a group or with your family, every member of the group needs to be authorised by ETIAS. You cannot travel merely on the authorisation of a sole member of the group or your family.
3. Do check the status of your ETIAS few days before your departure date as it can be revoked and annulled if the conditions for issuing it no longer apply.
4. During the validity period of your ETIAS authorisation, you can use it for an unlimited number of entries into any EU country.
5. If you're visiting multiple EU countries, you will have to pass through the first country you have stated in your application. For example, if you're planning to visit Portugal, Spain and France, and you have written in your application that the first country you will visit is France, then you must go through France before visiting Spain and Portugal.
These are the countries for which you would need ETIAS:
Do note that the ETIAS is still in proposal stage. Meaning, the information mentioned above may change before the new system commences in 2020. We will update this story as and when new information surfaces.