Seychellois citizens travelling to Europe's Schengen area for business or tourism purposes will, by the end of 2021, have to pay $8 (SCR106) per adult under a new visa waiver programme.
The programme under the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is a fully electronic system, which allows and keeps track of visitors who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen zone. It is similar in purpose to the U.S Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA).
The Schengen Area is a territory of 26 European countries. It consists of 22 European Union member states and four other countries that are part of the European Free Trade Association: Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein.
There are currently 60 countries whose citizens will need to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver, a number that is expected to be revised in the future. Citizens from non-eligible countries will need to apply for a Schengen Europe Visa to enter the region.
According to the ETIAS website, this new programme "has been created to strengthen the security of the region. Screening travellers before they enter the Schengen Area will allow the authorities to identify potential security risks and prevent them from entering the zone."
Adopted in November 2016 by the European Commission, ETIAS is "part of an effort to enhance border management as a response to the growing number of terrorist attacks across Europe's major cities."
ETIAS is also expected to reinforce the visa liberalisation policy of the EU and reduce procedures and application times.
Travellers to the Schengen Zone will have to fill in a form online which will take about 10 minutes to complete, eliminating the need to go to an embassy or consulate.
After screening done through several security databases including Interpol and Europol, a person is expected to receive an answer as soon as the request is submitted. Information provided is to be carefully entered and revised as any mistake or inaccuracies may lead to delays or even rejections.
Once issued, the document is valid for three years and during this period, the traveller may stay in the Schengen area for periods not exceeding 90 days, as is currently the case. At the end of the three years, or at the expiration of the passport, another request must be made.
The website states that "on rare occasions, applications may not be approved. If an ETIAS online application is denied, the applicant will have the right to appeal."
Currently, a Seychellois travelling to the Schengen zone only requires a passport valid for at least 90 days, a hotel reservation or invitation letter from a friend or family member in the area and a health insurance.