In 2024, the European Union (EU) will officially launch the ETIAS visa waiver program. When fully implemented, an ETIAS document will be required for citizens of more than 50 countries, including Moldovans, who wish to travel to the Schengen area for short stays. ETIAS is not a visa but rather a travel authorization system designed to screen visa-exempt citizens before they enter any EU member country.
Currently, Moldova is not a member of the EU, and as a result, all Moldovan citizens must obtain an ETIAS travel authorization before their trip to EU/Schengen countries.
Moldovans can easily apply for an ETIAS document via the online portal with their information in a few minutes and receive approval in under 72 hours. The ETIAS authorization is valid for three years from the date of approval and can be used to travel as many times as you want.
What is ETIAS?
ETIAS is a form of electronic travel authorization or visa waiver that allows for pre-arrival screening for Moldovan citizens and other visa-exempt nationals entering the EU. The system will keep a record of everyone who enters and leaves the EU.
ETIAS is not the same as the Schengen visa. The ETIAS scheme is being implemented to assist in identifying individuals who may pose a threat to Schengen member countries and to also strengthen border control within the region. Travelers are screened through ETIAS. Any person deemed to pose a security or health threat to the region will not be allowed to enter EU territories.
Once the ETIAS goes live in 2024, Moldovan nationals must hold an ETIAS authorization before traveling to any EU member country.
How ETIAS works
When an ETIAS authorization is approved, it is electronically linked to the traveler’s passport. To travel to Schengen, travelers must use the same passport they used to complete the ETIAS application. Those who hold dual citizenship should be aware of this necessity.
When entering the Schengen Area, you need to present your ETIAS-linked passport to border officials, along with other documents such as hotel reservations, an invitation letter, and proof of financial means to stay in Europe. Immigration officials will scan your passport to confirm you have a valid ETIAS endorsement.
The ETIAS authorization is valid for three years from the date of issue or until the passport expires, whichever comes first. ETIAS holders are free to enter Schengen as many times as they want as long as their stays do not exceed 90 days in any 180-day period. To stay in the Schengen Area for more than 3 months, you need a visa or another type of permit from the destination country, depending on your purpose of travel.
ETIAS holders may visit EU countries for the following purposes:
- Studying a short course
- Attend meetings and conferences.
- Medical treatment
Information About ETIAS For Moldovans:
How to get ETIAS for Moldovan citizens
To obtain the ETIAS travel authorization, Moldovans do not need to apply in person at any EU country’s embassy or consulate. The ETIAS application process is entirely online, via the designated website (which will go live once ETIAS is operational).
ETIAS requirements for Moldovan citizens
Before you start your application, you need the following things:
A valid passport:
Your passport must be valid for at least three months after leaving the Schengen area. On the same page as your biometric information, your passport must also have a section that can be read by a machine.
When you fill out the ETIAS application form, you will need to provide a valid email address. This email address will be used by the system to let you know about the status of your application and other important information.
You will need to give information like the first country you plan to visit, how long you plan to stay, your flight tickets, where you will be staying, and any other information that is important for your entry into Schengen.
Debit card or credit card:
Paying the fee is the last step in the ETIAS application process. To pay the application fee, you will need a debit or credit card.
Filling out the ETIAS online application form:
Citizens of Moldova will need to give the following information as part of their ETIAS application:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Place of birth
- Your parents’ information
- Your Moldovan passport details (number, issues/expiry date)
- Current address
- Telephone number
- Email address
- Current occupation
- The first Schengen country you will enter
- Additional information: Details about previous trips to Europe, including whether you have ever been ordered to leave the territory of any country
- Medical condition
- Criminal history
- Any past visits to war or conflict zones
It will take you ten minutes to fill out the form. All of the information you give must be accurate and correspond with what is on your passport. If there are mistakes or missing information, your application could be delayed or even rejected.
ETIAS application processing time for Moldovan citizens
ETIAS applications will be processed manually. Most requests are processed within 96 hours (4 days). But some applicants may be asked by national authorities to provide more information or paperwork. In this case, it could take up to two weeks or longer. The applicant will be emailed a list of the additional documents that must be submitted.
Citizens of Moldova who do not have another form of travel authorization and are still awaiting a decision on their ETIAS application will be denied entry into the EU. To avoid complications, you should apply for ETIAS in advance of your trip.
How much does ETIAS cost for Moldovan citizens?
The fee for an ETIAS is €7 (equivalent to 134 Moldovan Leu as at July 2023) for anyone between the ages of 18 and 70. Those under the age of 18 and those who are 70 or older will not be charged for their ETIAS. Either a credit card or a debit card can be used to make a payment.
The application fee is non-refundable if your application is unsuccessful.
When will Moldovan citizens need ETIAS to visit Europe?
From 2024 onward, Moldovan passport holders will need an ETIAS to enter Europe. Keep in mind that the ETIAS is not the same as a visa. It will only take you a short while to fill out an online application and wait for approval. Before the ETIAS requirements take effect next year, Moldovans can travel freely to Schengen countries with their passports.
Which countries require an ETIAS for Ukrainian citizens?
Moldovan nationals will need an ETIAS to visit all thirty (30) EU Schengen member states. This list of countries includes:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Can Ukrainian citizens enter any EU country with an ETIAS authorization?
Yes. With an ETIAS endorsement, citizens of Moldova can visit any of the Schengen countries. But you must enter through the first country you listed on your application, so keep that in mind. After entering your first country, you have 90 days to visit any other country in the Schengen Zone.
For example, suppose you planned to visit Portugal and Spain, and in your application you indicated that Portugal would be the first place you would go. If that’s the case, you must first visit Portugal before going to Spain or any other EU country you want to visit.
Do Moldovan nationals need an ETIAS to enter the UK?
No. The UK is not a member of the EU, so visitors are not required to obtain an ETIAS authorization. The UK has a visa requirement for Moldovan citizens.
ETIAS is also not needed for other European countries that are not part of the EU which include: Albania, Azerbaijan, Belarus, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, and Ukraine.
Moldovans should check each of the aforementioned countries’ specific entry requirements before their trip.
What paperwork do Moldovan citizens need when visiting the EU?
When visiting Schengen territories, citizens of Moldova will need the following paperwork:
- Your Moldovan passport (it should be valid for at least three months beyond your intended date of departure from the Schengen area)
- ETIAS Authorization (starting from 2024)
- Proof of accommodation
- Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself during your entire stay in Europe
How long are Moldovan citizens allowed to stay in Schengen with an ETIAS?
With an ETIAS, Moldovans can stay in Europe for a maximum of 90 days within a 180-day period.
What is Schengen’s 90/180-day rule?
Basically, the 90/180-day rule means your total stay in the Schengen area must be no more than 90 days in every 180 days. Your 90 days start on the first day you enter any Schengen country and stop on the date you leave the area.
But you do not have to stay for 90 consecutive days because the visa waiver agreement allows visitors to travel in and out of Schengen as many times as they want in accordance with the 90/180-day rule.
The 180 days are counted as a rolling period, which you can count backwards from the date you entered or left Schengen. So, to confirm your stay, count back 180 days from your last trip to Schengen and see how many of those days you were in the Schengen region.
The official Europa.eu website features an easy-to-use calculator (https://ec.europa.eu/assets/home/visa-calculator/calculator.htm?lang=en) that you can use to determine the total number of stays you have accumulated.
What happens if you overstay the 90 days allowed in the Schengen Area?
If you violate the Schengen 90/180 day rule by overstaying your 90 days, you may face a fine, immediate deportation, or even be banned from entering the Schengen Area for a while.
Can Moldovan citizens work in Europe with an ETIAS?
No, the ETIAS authorization does not permit nationals of Moldova to work in Europe. The ETIAS is just a short-term entry permit for tourism, vacations, business trips, and other similar trips. If you want to work in Europe, you have to get a work permit from the EU country where you want to work.
Can Moldovan citizens study in Europe with an ETIAS?
Yes, for a short course within 90 days. If you want to enroll in a long-term educational program in Europe, you must obtain a student visa from the EU country where you want to study.
Do minors require an ETIAS?
Yes. ETIAS is required for all Moldovan travelers, including children under the age of 18. The form can be filled out on their behalf by a parent or legal guardian, as long as proof of guardianship is shown.
Don’t forget that children under 18 don’t have to pay the ETIAS application fee.
How many years is an approved ETIAS valid for?
An approved ETIAS authorization is valid for three years from the date of issuance. Your ETIAS will expire if your Moldovan passport expires before the three-year validity period. If you get a new passport, you’ll have to reapply for ETIAS again.
Can Moldovan citizens enter Schengen multiple times with an approved ETIAS?
Yes. Moldovan passport holders who already have ETIAS travel authorization do not need to submit a new application before each trip they take to a Schengen country. During the three years that the ETIAS is valid, travelers are allowed multiple entries into Schengen.
Will a valid ETIAS guarantee my entry to Shengchen?
Just because you have ETIAS does not necessarily guarantee entry into Schengen countries. With a valid ETIAS authorization, you can board your carrier, such as a plane or ship, and travel to any EU country. However, the decision to admit you into the region rests with the border patrol. If you fail a border check or fail to meet other entry requirements, you may be denied entry.
Do I Need ETIAS If I Already Have A Visa / Residence Permit?
No. If you hold a valid visa or residence permit issued by one of the EU member states, you do not require an ETIAS travel authorization.
Temporary residents of Moldova from countries with which the EU has a visa requirement are not eligible to apply for an ETIAS, even though they live in Moldova. Instead, they will need to apply for a standard Schengen visa.