ETIAS or Schengen VISA: which visa do I need?


ETIAS and Schengen Visa has many similarities, every traveler who wants to travel in Europe could face problems trying to understand which travel documents it's exactly needed to cross the European borders.

Before entering into details of differences and similarities of these two travel documents, we need to clarify that ETIAS and Schengen Visa targets nationals of different Counties. All the citizens of Countries included in the Visa Waiver Program (or Visa-Exempted) will require an ETIAS authorisation starting from 2021 to enter the Schengen Area.

ETIAS or Schengen VISA

Similarities between ETIAS and Schengen Visa:

  • Both Schengen and ETIAS visa allows travelers to visit all the Schengen Area Countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland plus San Marino, Vatican City and Monaco.
  • Both Schengen and Etias visa allows the holder to transit or stay in a Schengen Country member for up to 90 days for a period of six months.


Differences between ETIAS and Schengen Visa:

  • Despite the fact it will be mandatory for all travelers, ETIAS is not considered as a traditional visa, but it's mostly considered as a travel authorisation.
  • ETIAS is valid for multiple entrances in Europe during its validity of 3 years.
  • Schengen Visa must be requested to the embassy of the Schengen country that the traveler intends to visit, the visa is then granted or declined on a case-by-case basis.
  • There're three different categories of Schengen Visa; each category can offer different benefits to the travelers or restrict the duration and the terms of the stay.
    • Category "A" (Airport Transit Visa) allows the holder to enter Schengen Area limiting the visa validity to the airport used for transiting only.
    • Category "C" allows its holder to visit or stay in a Schengen Area County for a restricted period of time, this category can also allow a visa holder to enter the Schengen area only once or multiple times.