Canadians heading to Europe will soon have to fill out specialized paperwork and pay a fee in order to travel around the continent. But don’t worry, the new travel restrictions don’t kick in until January 2021.

In hopes of curbing illegal immigration and better protecting its border, the European Union said it’s implementing restrictions for international travellers, including Canadians.

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It’s called the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and Canadians will have to fill out the application online, pay a fee and wait to be approved before travelling to the Schengen Zone, an area covering 26 countries in Europe — this does not include the U.K. and Russia.

Canadian citizens do not currently require a visa for short-term stays for tourism, family or business reasons.

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How does it work?

Before travelling to Europe, Canadians (including minors) will have to apply for the ETIAS application online. Applicants will answer security questions as well as information about their travel plans, such as address destinations, education, work experience and citizenship.

After providing the information and paying a fee (around C$10.55), passengers should receive their approved ETIAS via email within 24 hours.

Travellers also have to provide the first EU country they intend on visiting. This means travellers will only be allowed to enter through the country stated in the application.

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Once approved, the ETIAS is valid for three years, and it can be used for travel up to 90 days in a 180 day period.

The EU said the paperwork needed for the new travel restriction is not a visa, but a “pre-travel screening” for travel benefitting from visa-free access.

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What if it gets denied?

After submitting an application, travellers will see an approved or denied message, according to the ETIAS website.

“In the denial message, you will also have a reason as to why the ETIAS was denied. You could appeal to this decision or based on the denial reason, you can adjust your application and try again,” the website states.

Why?

The EU said the reasoning behind the travel restrictions is to identify risks posed by travellers, while also simplifying border checks.

“This prior verification of visa-exempt non-EU citizens will facilitate border checks; avoid bureaucracy and delays for travellers when presenting themselves at the borders; ensure a coordinated and harmonised risk assessment of third-country nationals; and substantially reduce the number of refusals of entry at border crossing points,” the website stated.

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