Do Hong Kong citizens need to obtain a visa for European travel?
No, Hong Kong citizens will not need a visa to enter Europe and stay for up to 90 days per 180-day period.
Although there are no new European visa requirements for Hong Kong citizens travellers will soon need to register with ETIAS. The European Travel Information and Authorisation System is to be launched at the end of 2022 and will be a mandatory entry requirement for tourists and business people from Hong Kong.
ETIAS is not a visa. Passport holders from Hong Kong will still be able to cross an external EU border without applying for a visa provided the stay does not exceed 90 days per 180-day period. ETIAS is valid for tourism, business, and transit.
Nevertheless, with the upcoming introduction of ETIAS, Hong Kong citizens need to be prepared for the changes to the visa-free policy and understand the steps they will soon need to take to enter the Schengen Area.
ETIAS visa waiver for Hongkongers
The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is being introduced to improve border management and security across the European Union.
ETIAS will verify the eligibility of travellers to enter Europe visa-free. Applicant data will be cross-checked against Schengen security systems to ensure an individual does not pose a threat to the public.
Hong Kong citizens will not need to apply for ETIAS each time they travel. The visa waiver is valid for 3 years or until the passport expires and can be used for multiple trips of up to 90 days per 180-day period.
ETIAS is more straightforward to obtain than a Schengen visa. The entire ETIAS process for Hong Kong nationals is online, applicants are not required to visit an embassy or consulate.
In addition, visa waiver processing is fast, most applicants receive their approved permit within 3 working days, confirmation is sent directly to their email inbox and the authorisation is linked to the passport electronically.
Hong Kong citizens will be able to visit any of the 26 Schengen countries with the same ETIAS visa waiver.
ETIAS requirements for Hong Kong citizens
Hong Kongese are eligible to apply for the ETIAS visa waiver for travel to the Schengen Area. Below is a list of ETIAS requirements that each traveller must have in order to apply:
- A valid Hong Kong (or other ETIAS approved countries) passport
- A credit or debit card, which will be used to pay the application fee
- An active email address to receive notifications and the confirmation email
It is important that applicants pay close attention to the information they enter while filling in the application. Any incorrect information has the potential to result in a delay or outright rejection.
The ETIAS application process for Hong Kong citizens
Hong Kong nationals can obtain an ETIAS visa waiver in a few simple steps: complete the online application, pay the ETIAS processing fee, and submit the request for review.
In addition to the list of items above, travellers wishing to apply for the ETIAS must also be ready to provide the following during the application process:
- Personal information such as their full name, date of birth, place of birth, and gender.
- Contact details including residential address, valid email address, and a phone number.
- Passport details including the applicant’s passport number and country of issue, the date of issue, and the date of expiration.
- Travel plans such as which country traveller intends to enter and which other countries they intend on visiting.
Because the Schengen Area has borderless travel once inside, applicants will not be required to give an exact itinerary but instead will be asked to provide an outline of their intended plans.
Additionally, travellers should be prepared to provide answers to some questions concerned with health and security.
The ETIAS is linked to the passport used to apply on approval and will be verified when the passport is scanned at the airport.
Note: The ETIAS does not guarantee entry into Europe, that decision is ultimately made by the border authorities.
Can ETIAS for Hongkongers be denied?
Similar programmes to the ETIAS, such as in the United States, grant travellers a visa waiver at around a 95% approval rate. European authorities expect a similar figure when the ETIAS is implemented.
If the ETIAS is denied, the traveller will receive an email explaining the reason(s) for the rejection. An appeal process will be allowed, and applicants will need to make that appeal directly to the country where they have stated they will enter into the Schengen Area. For example, if their flight is scheduled to land in Berlin, they would make their appeal to Germany.
Why the need for ETIAS?
Travellers wondering why the European authorities are adopting a stricter policy, the answer is to do with security and safety.
Authorities believe that the waiver system will be an efficient and secure way to screen travellers without requiring them to go through the process of acquiring a traditional visa.
Whilst citizens of Hong Kong and several other third national now need to take additional action when preparing for a trip to Europe, ETIAS will ultimately ensure a safer Europe for both its citizens as well as its visitors.