You may have heard that Europe is strengthening its border security arrangements after experiencing an unprecedented wave of refugees and a number of terrorist attacks. Many people who visit Austria or one of the other EU countries do not need a visa in advance before their arrival. In fact, many people have to come to the border, like an international airport, and show their passports. As long as their passports are valid and the immigration officers are satisfied, they get 90 days all over Europe. Because many visitors to Austria arrive by land from another EU country, they can not even be invited to show their passport. As a result, Austria and other EU countries have considered introducing a European visa-free system.
The new system will require non-Europeans who until now have been "visa-free" to apply for "travel authorization" in advance. It will be like a visa but will be easier to get because all you need to do is apply online and pay a fee. The new system is called the European Travel and Information Authorization System (ETIAS). It is not yet officially ready, but it will be a reality from 2020.
Austria is part of Schengen
One thing about Europe that often confuses people is the difference between the European Union and Schengen. Austria, for example, is both a member of the EU and Schengen. There are 28 member countries in the European Union, which allows the free movement of citizens everywhere, as well as a common market for trade. Schengen has been more specifically set up to make immigration standards and visa standard. In fact, almost all members of the Schengen Agreement are also in the EU
There are some countries that are not in the EU but that are in Schengen, like Norway. There are also countries that are in the EU, such as Great Britain and Ireland, but not in Schengen. No wonder it's a little confusing for foreigners! Basically, if you get a Schengen visa, it will give you 90 days everywhere in the Schengen area, but if you want to visit an EU country that is not part of Schengen, like Britain, you will need to a different visa. The ETIAS agreement should affect travel to European Schengen countries.
Why visit Austria?
Austria has long been on the European tourist circuit. Most of the country is more than 500 meters away and consists of beautiful mountain scenery, lush pastures and picturesque alpine villages. There are many places to explore by road, taking you through gorges and rugged mountains with abundant accommodations to suit all tastes and budgets.
Austria is also known for its cultural heritage and archaeological splendor. Vienna remains the main draw card and is a beautiful and fascinating city with a long history behind it. It remains an epicenter of music, theater, opera and the arts.
Do I need an Austria ETIAS visa waiver?
You will not need an Austria ETIAS visa waiver if you are a citizen of one of the EU Member States or one of the non-EU Schengen members. It is unlikely that you will need to apply for an ETIAS Austria visa waiver if you are a citizen of any country that has needed a Schengen visa in advance until now. You will probably need an Austria ETIAS visa waiver in the future (when the system will be officially operational) if you are not a European citizen and your country of citizenship has been visa-free so far.
If in doubt, contact us to find out how ETIAS is likely to affect you.