At the start of 2018, it was reported that Malaysians travelling to the Schengen countries in Europe would need to get a visa or travel permit starting in 2020. This will officially take into effect starting 2021 and will affect travellers going to destinations such as Switzerland, Greece, Germany and more.
Here’s what you need to know about the current & upcoming new travel requirement to Europe:
Current visa requirements to visit Europe or the Schengen Zone for Malaysians
Right now, any Malaysians who want to visit any of the Schengen countries do not need any visa at all, provided that you aren’t entering to study or get employed there. This visa-free entry benefit is valid for visits up to a maximum of 90 days over a 6-month period.
If you plan to stay longer than 90 days, there are various visas available for the different countries under the Schengen Zone and you’ll have to contact each embassy directly to find out what these visas are. They usually include study visas, work visas, spousal visas and others.
Introducing ETIAS Visa for travellers going to Europe
From 2021, all visitors with a visa-free benefit, including Malaysians, will be required to apply for a visa online. This new system is known as the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). The European Union has introduced this system as part of their plan for tighter border control and better knowledge about the visitors coming and going from the Schengen zone.
The recent incidents in France, Belgium and Germany have prompted EU governments to call for stricter border security. Therefore, they have decided to form ETIAS, which extends the visa requirements to countries that have previously travelled visa-free, including Malaysia.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about ETIAS
Which countries are in the Schengen Zone?
The Schengen countries consist of almost all the European Union members, except for Ireland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and the United Kingdom. Of course, as we know, the UK will be leaving the EU soon. Currently, there are 26 countries in the Schengen Zone, including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Sweden and more. For the full list of countries in the Schengen Zone, you can visit the official ETIAS website.
How do I apply for the ETIAS?
This ETIAS visa application should be done online. You’ll be asked to provide the following:
1. Passport details
2. Personal information including gender and parents’ names
3. Basic questions on personal health
4. A credit or debit card to pay for the application fee of €7
5. Contact information including permanent resident address, e-mail, phone number
6. Criminal self assessment
What is the ETIAS visa validity?
Similar to previous policy, this ETIAS visa will be valid for a 90-day travel over a period of 6 months. With this visa, you can travel freely to any country in the Schengen Zone and it’s valid for up to three years from the date of issue.
However, this visa must be paired with a valid passport that has at least a 3 month validity period. Therefore if your passport expires, this visa loses its validity too. If you need to renew or apply for a new passport, then you’ll have to apply for a new ETIAS visa as well.
How much does the ETIAS visa cost?
Every online application will cost €7, which is about RM33, and this fee must be paid with a valid debit or credit card. There are certain people who are exempted from paying this application fee:
• Anyone under the age of 18
• Senior citizens over 60 years old
• Close relatives of EU citizens
• Researchers travelling for academic purposes
When should I apply for ETIAS?
The ETIAS authorities recommend that you apply for an ETIAS visa at least 72 hours or 3 days before your flight to Europe to allow adequate time for screening.
Every ETIAS visa application will have to be screened by several systems before your application is rejected or accepted. All accepted applications will be notified via e-mail, and if you’re rejected, a valid reason will be provided. The faster you apply for this visa, the better it is as you’ll have some extra time to iron out any issues.
Those travelling in groups will also have to apply for ETIAS as individuals.
Who gets accepted or rejected with ETIAS?
The ETIAS system is an automated system which will run your personal details through all the 26 member country databases. You may face a visa rejection if your details show up on any of the EU security systems like Interpol, SIS, VIS, Europol, Eurodac and the like.
Where can I get more information?
The official ETIAS website will answer all your burning questions. You’ll be able to click on all the individual countries of the Schengen region to see their current and future visa requirements.
To date, the ETIAS website has not uploaded a sample of their application form, but they should be doing so nearer to the date this comes into effect, which is January 1st 2021. We will continue updating this page with more information so do bookmark this page if you are planning to visit Europe in the future.
…and there you have it! If you do not wish to go through an additional step to travel to Europe, it’s not too late