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Visa vs ETIAS: Which One Should Is Better?


by Cherin Ng

Documents for travel abroad. Visa application form, pen, passport cover with airplane silhouette on grey background top view.
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Europe has 50 nations and some of the best holiday places on the planet. However, unlike a few other countries that allow travelers to enter without a passport or visa, most European countries require some type of clearance to enter.


There are two main border authorizations required in most European countries; a visa or ETIAS. In this article, we will look at both entry documentation and the requirements needed.

The Schengen Area

Cars in queue waiting to enter the Gotthard motorway tunnel at Airolo on the Swiss alps

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Before we examine both entrance authorizations, we must first grasp how Europe works. The Schengen Area in Europe has an unmistakable element that differentiates it from other regions. 


The zone incorporates 27 countries, with 23 of them being individuals from the European Union. Although Schengen nations can become EU members and EU individuals can enter the Schengen Area, the phrases “EU” and “Schengen” are not interchangeable.


The word Schengen begins from the Schengen Agreement of 1985. The Agreement was signed in Schengen, a town in Luxembourg. The agreement mandates member states to construct a solitary external boundary to enable citizens of Schengen to travel without encountering border limitations.

Schengen Visa

Modern wooden table with printed application for schengen visa, passport and money. Travelling abroad or immigration to foreign country concept. Blurred background

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With the Schengen Agreement, participating countries have a common visa policy. This visa policy helps to promote security in the countries by cross-border monitoring, and communication between different security systems. 


The Schengen visa allows you to stay in any member country for up to 90 days in any 180-day period for business, sports, cultural, short courses, tourism, vacation, or parental visit reasons. It is crucial to confirm each country’s criteria before starting any application process.


You need a passport that is valid for at least 90 days after the duration of your visit in order to enter a Schengen nation. In addition, the passport must contain at least one empty page for the visa stamp. Failure to achieve these requirements will result in access being denied.

Types of Schengen Visas

There are three main visa categories you will need if traveling to a Schengen country.

Short stay visa

The Type C visa, sometimes known as a “short-stay visa,” is the second most common type of visa, and is typically issued by an embassy or consulate. You can stay in a Schengen nation for up to 90 days with this visa.


The short-stay visa comes in three ways:

  • Single entry visa or visa 1, which only allows you entry into a Schengen area or country only once and the visa expires immediately after you leave that country (even though the visa is still valid).
  • Double entry visa or visa 2, which gives you access to the Schengen countries twice. This means you can re-enter the area as long as the visa stamp is still valid. After the second time, your visa will expire.
  • Multiple-entry visa. One can freely enter and exit the Schengen countries countless times using a multiple-entry visa, which is identified by the letter “MULT” on the visa stamp sheet. For this type of visa, one, three, or five years options are available. However, there is one restriction: you can only stay for 90 days in total over any 180-day period.

Transit Visa

Man doing electronic Visa Application in a laptop by internet at home.

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If you are from a non-Schengen nation, you can fly through or change planes in an airport in one of these nations with an approved transit visa or Type A visa. Unfortunately, even if you have a lengthy layover, this visa precludes you from exiting the Schengen airport.


Assuming you will not be flying, the transit visa also allows you to travel across the Schengen area utilizing modes of transportation such as coach, sea, or car for up to 5 days.

National/ long-stay visa

The national long-stay visa, also known as a Type D visa, is provided to tourists who intend to stay in a Schengen country for more than 90 days but no more than one year. 


It mostly applies to persons going for employment, long-term study or training programs, or family reasons. You can also remain in another Schengen nation (not the first one you visited) for 90 days with this visa. 


Non-Schengen European countries

The United Kingdom and Ireland, among other non-Schengen nations, have their own set of entrance and departure restrictions. Consult their individual embassies or consulates to get the appropriate visa requirements for these countries.

Traveling to Europe with an ETIAS

blue poster of ETIAS

Image from Schengenvisa

In 2016, the European Travel Information and Authorisation System, or ETIAS, was proposed for the purpose of reinforcing travel security in Europe for travelers who come from the 60 countries that currently require no visa. 


Citizens of these countries only need a passport and as such pose a potential risk since there is no background information on them. The ETIAS intends to minimize this risk by ensuring personal and pertinent details are collected during the application process. 


The ETIAS will launch in 2024 and will be a fully automatic process, where the applicants will fill in an online form. The form will ask for personal information including your full name, contact details, physical address, and email address. 


The form will also have ETIAS questions on criminal record, asking about your criminal past, if you have one. Basically, the process will involve:

  • Completing the ETIAS application form.
  • Pay the 7 Euros ETIAS fee, which will be paid online using a credit or debit card.
  • Running your details through various security and information databases such as Visa Information System (VIS), Eurodac, European Criminal Records Information System -Third Country Nationals (ECRIS-TCN)Europol data,  and the Schengen Information System (SIS).
  • Receive your ETIAS, once your application is approved.


When your application is approved, the ETIAS is electronically linked to your passport. You will be able to use your ETIAS for 3 years or until your passport expires. 


Differences between ETIAS and Schengen Visa

There are certain key differences between the ETIAS and a Schengen visa.

Countries you can enter

While the ETIAS allows you to enter any country in Europe, although not necessarily a Schengen one. The Schengen visa on the other hand allows you to travel only in one of the 26 Schengen countries. 

Application process

Another key difference is seen in the processes, The ETIAS is a quick and simple online process that only takes you around 20 minutes to complete. Not only that, but you will receive feedback within four days. It is also totally automated, requiring no trips to an embassy or consulate.  


The duration of the visa application process can vary between 14 days to 6 weeks depending on the country to be visited and the type of visa required. In addition to the visa application, you may need to submit other documents such as bank statements,  travel plans, travel insurance, proof of accommodation, and an explanation of the purpose of travel. 


passport 1024x460 - Visa vs ETIAS: Which One Should Is Better?

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For an ETIAS application, you will need a machine-readable passport, especially on the biographic details page. The passport should be valid by the time you arrive in your destination country. Though not mandatory, your passport should also have an electronic chip. 


You must supply a passport with at least two blank pages for entrance and departure stamps throughout the visa application procedure. Your passport, like the ETIAS, shall be valid for at least three months beyond the expiration date of your visa.

Application Fees

The ETIAS is a cheaper option as it only costs 7 euros. A Schengen visa costs 80 Euros for adults and 40 Euros for children between the ages of 6 and 12. 


The ETIAS is valid for three years or until your passport expires. A Schengen visa’s validity, on the other hand, is regulated by the kind of visa chosen. 

Which one should I choose?

Once available,  ETIAS will be a great option for anyone wishing to visit Europe for a short period of time for business, tourism, or medical reasons. This is an excellent choice for swift air travel. However, acquiring a visa is required if you want to stay in the nation for a lengthy period of time for a job or school. Ascertain that you have all of the essential papers for the choice you choose.