From 2022, Japanese tourists will need to apply for the new ETIAS visa waiver before traveling to Europe.
The European Information and Authorization System will change the way non-EU nationals visit Europe and, at the same time, make top tourist destinations such as France, Italy and Germany safer than ever before.
The EU’s visa liberalization policy has meant that, until now, Japanese nationals have been able to cross Schengen Area external borders using just a valid passport. Whilst this has provided easy and convenient access to European countries, calls for greater security have led to the development of the EU ETIAS.
Non-EU nationals, including Japanese passport holders, must be prepared for changes to Europe’s visa policy and get ready to apply for ETIAS once it becomes available.
When will ETIAS be launched?
ETIAS has been in development since 2016 and is set to be launched in 2022. ETIAS will not, however, become a mandatory requirement for Japanese nationals immediately. A six-month grace period is planned to allow everyone involved to adapt to the new processes and complex IT systems.
During the first six months following the implementation of ETIAS, the European authorities will inform travelers of their new responsibilities, officials will offer guidance at Schengen Area borders and advice will also be available at European embassies and consulates.
While the visa waiver will not be obligatory at this stage, anyone traveling from Japan to Europe is encouraged to apply.
What is ETIAS and how will it affect Japanese travelers?
ETIAS is not a visa, Japanese nationals will continue to enjoy visa-free privileges even after the launch of the new system. ETIAS is, rather, a travel authorization similar to ESTA for the U.S.
Under the new system, visitors from outside the EU will be pre-screened before arriving in Europe. Details will be checked against international security databases including those of Interpol and Europol, as well as an ETIAS watchlist.
Potentially dangerous individuals can be prevented from crossing the border legally, further reducing the likelihood of cross-border crime or terrorism.
How to apply for ETIAS with a Japanese passport
Fortunately for travelers, the ETIAS application process will be fully online and can be completed from anywhere with an internet connection, 24 hours a day.
Japanese passport holders will be required to complete the ETIAS application form with some basic personal details and passport information. There are also a few questions aimed at ensuring the visitor does not pose a high health or security risk.
To finalize the process, the ETIAS fees are paid using a debit or credit card and the application is submitted for review.
How long before traveling should I apply for ETIAS?
In most cases, nothing will be flagged up during the automatic processing stage and the ETIAS visa waiver will be granted almost immediately. On approval, the visa waiver is electronically linked to the passport and an email notification is sent to the applicant.
In the rare case that there is a hit in one of the databases, the application will be processed manually by the ETIAS Central and National Units. A decision must be reached within 2 weeks.
The best places in Europe to visit with ETIAS
One of the greatest advantages of ETIAS is that it is valid for the entire Schengen Area. The Schengen Area is a border-free travel zone composed of 26 European nations: once you have crossed the external border using your passport and ETIAS, you can move from country to country without being stopped at checkpoints.
With so many interesting places to discover, this offers an excellent opportunity to visit several nations on one trip. Short-haul flights, trains, and buses are all convenient for making the journey from one place to another.
France is the most visited country in the world and also very popular among Japanese tourists. With emblematic monuments such as the Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame Cathedral, in addition to world-class museums and art galleries, France is a must-visit destination for many.
Travelers head to Italy to see some of the most famous structures on the planet: the Colosseum in Rome and the Leaning Tower of Pisa deserve a special mention. Italy is also known for its cuisine, visitors will soon discover that there’s much more to Italian cooking than pizza and pasta.
Germany is another favorite and, given its central location in Europe, is the perfect base from which to reach other countries. Berlin is a fascinating capital city with plenty of historical and cultural activities. Other major cities worth visiting include Frankfurt and Munich whilst the German countryside offers stunning landscapes and fairytale castles.
Japanese passport holders with an approved ETIAS visa waiver will be able to enjoy up to 90 days in a 180-day period in Europe. In addition, as the permit is multiple-entry, it can be used for repeated trips to the continent as long as it remains valid.© Japan Today