Malaysians have generally been able to travel to the EU States without much hassle because we don’t need an EU Visa. However, soon, we’ll have to apply for European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) authorisation or be denied entry.
2021 is the proposed start date for this new immigration procedure and it will be applicable to the Schengen Area. The Schengen Area comprises 26 European states that have abolished passport and border control at their mutual borders. ETIAS authorisation is mandatory for nationalities who do not require an EU visa to travel (that means us).
Accordingly, there are a number of reasons behind the implementation of ETIAS. These include better border security, preventing identity fraud, and finetuning the immigration process.
Unlike conventional visas (issued on a case-by-case basis by the individual EU States), ETIAS is an automated, centralised electronic authorisation pass that is valid throughout the Schengen Area. This means that Malaysians can still enjoy visa-free travel provided they have valid ETIAS authorisation.
So, on to the important point: how does it work?
The entire ETIAS authorisation process takes place online and the processing time isn’t all that long (approximately 10 minutes). Once approved, the authorisation is valid for three years (or until your passport expires). The one-time fee payable for ETIAS authorisation is 7 Euros (about RM32.50).
Note that applicants below the age of 18 do not need to pay the application fee. However, they will still need to apply for authorisation to travel.
During the application process, you’ll have to share your personal and travel details along with your criminal history (if any). You’ll also need to declare if you’ve visited any designated conflict zones or have been deported or denied entry to any country within the past ten years.
Once you submit your application, ETIAS will verify the information and cross-check with multiple EU information systems. These include organisations like the SIS, Interpol, Eurodac, and so forth in addition to its own watchlist. This helps the system to screen for individuals who may be a potential threat to security.
If your application is successful, you’ll receive an email containing your authorisation. If it isn’t, you’ll receive an email stating the reasons for the refusal. We recommend applying for your ETIAS autorisation at least 3 days before your trip.
Important points to remember
Once you receive your email approving your application, print it out and bring it with you to the airport. Also, make sure to double check on your ETIAS authorisation status before your trip to avoid any last-minute drama.
ETIAS authorisation is strictly linked to each individual passport in the system. Meaning that if you’re travelling in a group, make sure that everyone applies for ETIAS autorisation before travelling. As of right now, there is no group authorisation available.
While you’ll be able to enjoy unlimited travel and entry in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days, you will have to enter the EU via the country stated during your application. So, for example, if you listed Spain as your entry point, you have to go through immigration in Spain before visiting any other country in the EU.
Editor’s Note: Because ETIAS authorisation is only set to commence in 2021, there may be changes to the current proposed procedures and fees. So do stay up to date with the latest travel information if you’re planning to travel to the EU countries in the near future!