Which Visa Should You Apply for When Travelling To Europe?

Europe is the leading tourist destination in the world. Every year millions of tourists visit Europe to take in the breathtaking landscape, architecture, culture and so on.

Depending on where you’re traveling to Europe from you will either need ETIAS or Schengen visa. Here’s how to tell the difference between ETIAS and Schengen visa and determine which one you need for your trip.

Schengen visa

This visa allows visitors to travel freely across EU countries that are part of the Schengen area. The Schengen area includes 26 countries among them France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Poland and Italy. The Schengen visa is applied for by people who come from countries whose citizens must have a visa to enter Europe. Most third world countries fall under this category.  

The Schengen visa is usually issued if a traveler applies for it at least six weeks before their trip and will usually involve a trip to the embassy or consulate of the destination country because the application process is not automated.

This Visa can be:

  • A Single-entry visa meaning as a tourist you will only be allowed to enter the Schengen area once within a certain period of time. When you leave the Schengen area the visa is no longer valid.
  • A double-entry visa which allows you two entries into the Schengen area. So if you leave you can return for a second visit but after that, you won’t be allowed in.
  • A multiple-entry visa. If you plan to have several visits to the Schengen area this would be the best one to apply for. The holder of this visa can enter Europe multiple times.


This stands for the European Travel Information and Authorisation System. This visa is to be introduced in 2021 and targets persons traveling form countries that can currently enter Europe without a visa.

They are 60 countries which are not part of the European Union but whose citizens have this privilege as of now. Some countries whose citizens don’t need visas to travel to Europe include Japan, Mexico, Canada, Singapore, Australia etc.

ETIAS is being introduced by European states as a security measure. The threat of terrorism and the migration crisis are the main reasons for its introduction.

Unlike the Schengen visa, you don’t need to visit a consulate to get one. Applications are done online and approved in minutes. During the application process, you will have to give biometric information like full names, date of birth, citizenship, home address, EU country you are visiting, criminal record if any and contacts.

If you’re successful in your application the ETIAS visa lasts for 3 years and gives you multiple entries into EU. Once you have this visa you don’t need a Schengen visa.


I know the information may be too much to remember but to make it easy for you just remember this one thing. One visa the Schengen is for countries that currently require a visa to enter Europe the second visa, ETIAS is for tourists traveling from counties that don’t require a visa currently. So simply determine where your country lies and you will know which visa to apply for.

Wherever you’re traveling to in Europe hope you have a good time!