Hong Kong and BN(O) passport holders who wish to enter 27 Schengen countries and three additional European nations will only have to apply for an ETIAS travel authorisation prior to their travel from spring 2025, a delay from the previous start date of 2024.
The reason for the postponement is the new start date of the Entry/Exit System, which will be in August 2024. This will be an automated IT system to register travellers from third-countries — both short-stay visa holders and visa-exempt travellers — each time they cross an EU external border. This system will replace manual passport stamping at border control points with an electronic registration.
What is ETIAS?
The ETIAS — or European Travel Information and Authorisation System — is an online document for nationals of countries who have visa-free access for short-term visits to the Schengen zone and three other European countries: Cyprus, Ireland, and Romania. The list includes 60 nationalities, including Hong Kong passport holders.
|Albania||Israel||Saint Kitts and Nevis|
|Antigua and Barbuda||Japan||Saint Lucia|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Marshall Islands||Singapore|
|Costa Rica||Nauru||Trinidad and Tobago|
|Georgia||North Macedonia||United Arab Emirates|
|Guatemala||Panama||United States of America|
While BN(O) passport holders are not mentioned on the list, they will likely need to apply for an ETIAS clearance as they are also entitled to stay in these 30 countries for up to 90 days without a visa.
How do I get my ETIAS?
All travellers bound for these 30 countries will need to submit an application for which they need to provide the following information:
- Personal details, such as date and place of birth, nationalities, home address, email address and phone number(s)
- Parents’ first names
- Travel document details
- Level of education and current occupation
- Country of first intended stay and address of destination
- Details about any past criminal convictions, and prior travel to conflict of war zones
Applicants need to pay a £7 (HK$59) fee and should have a passport that is valid for at least three months at the time of travel. However, those under 18 years old or over 70 years old do not have to pay the application fee. Each traveller must have a separate application and there is no option to apply for an ETIAS as a group.
According to the ETIAS website, applying for the authorisation will typically take a few minutes, but there are cases when the process can take up to 30 days. Travellers will be notified by email about the status of their application.
How long is the ETIAS valid for?
An ETIAS is valid for up to three years or until an approved passport expires, whichever comes first. Once a traveller receives their ETIAS, they can enter any of these 30 countries for up to 90 days at a time within a 180-day period. If an ETIAS-approved passport expires within this three-year period, a new ETIAS must be applied for.
Travellers who have their applications refused may apply again, and even have the right to appeal a failed application. There are cases in which an ETIAS can be cancelled, especially authorities find that an applicant no longer meets the conditions under which the document was issued.
Next year, it will also be a mandatory requirement for all nationalities with visa-free access to the UK to apply for an ETA — or Electronic Travel Authorisation — if they wish to enter the country for short-term stays of up to six months.
To know more about ETIAS, visit the official website.
Header image credits: Andrey Mikhaylov via Canva