The ETIAS visa waiver for Europe is set to become mandatory in November 2023 for citizens of more than 50 countries taking short excursions to the Schengen Area. However, the situation of the European microstates of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City has been complicated by this new travel permit.
In recent weeks, new information has emerged clarifying whether or not it is necessary to apply for an ETIAS when visiting EU microstates or going from one of these states to a Schengen country.
Some of the most frequently asked topics concern practical issues when travelling to and from EU microstates:
- Will nationals of the European microstates need an ETIAS to visit their Schengen neighbor countries?
- Will international travelers need to apply for an ETIAS to visit Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City?
- Are there any other issues tourists should consider when traveling to any of the EU microstates?
Read our fast guide to learn everything you need to know about travelling to and from the European microstates, as well as some fascinating facts about them.
WHY ARE THERE MICROSTATES IN EUROPE?
Before delving into the relationship between EU microstates and the ETIAS visa waiver, it is necessary to first understand why Europe has microstates in the first place.
A microstate, in general, is a nation with a relatively small area and population.
Europe had a profusion of microstates, kingdoms, and feuds centuries ago. Throughout history, these have been absorbed into larger nations, but some have maintained their independence. European microstates now have sovereignty and international recognition.
Micronations and microstates are not the same thing. While microstates are self-governing, micronations are usually self-proclaimed and are not recognised by other governments. In terms of the number of microstates in Europe, there is no clear agreement on what nations constitute as microstates.
For example, despite the fact that Iceland is a large area, some consider it a microstate due to its small population (less than 400,000 people). A minority of researchers, on the other hand, question the Vatican’s microstate status because it may not fit the standard criteria for statehood.
When attempting to answer the question ‘How many microstates are there in Europe?‘ Most academics agree on six European microstates:
- San Marino
- Vatican City
In this regard, it is critical to recognise that European microstates have a variety of agreements with other European countries and the European Union. With the exception of Liechtenstein, all microstates have engaged into an economic agreement with the EU that permits them to issue euro symbols, for example.
Malta is the only microstate that is also a full EU member. Meanwhile, Andorra, Monaco, and San Marino are part of the European Economic Area (EEA), which permits free movement of products and people within the union.
Despite the fact that Vatican City is not a member of the EU, it shares an open border with Italy. This means that visitors can use the same documents they would in the rest of Europe. The same may be said for Liechtenstein, which is a member of the Schengen Area.
However, no microstate has the right to issue a Schengen visa on its own, allowing outsiders to visit Schengen territory.
FOREIGN NATIONALS TRAVELING TO THE EUROPEAN MICROSTATES
The question of whether an international visitor needs and ETIAS to visit Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, or Vatican City can be addressed and understood by considering the following facts:
- San Marino, Vatican City, and Monaco have open borders with neighboring Schengen countries, which makes them de facto part of the Schengen Area. Therefore, these 3 European microstates all apply Schengen visa policies. Andorra, however, poses no visa requirements on tourists per se.
- Due to their geographic location —and lack of international airports— visitors will inevitably need to pass through the Schengen Area in order to get to one of these 4 microstates.
- The travel authorization for Europe is mandatory for transit through the Schengen Area. Therefore, passengers from ETIAS-required countries will have to apply for an ETIAS in order to cross Schengen borders into each microstate.
IS ETIAS REQUIRED TO VISIT ANDORRA, MONACO, SAN MARINO, OR VATICAN CITY?
To reach the European microstates, visitors must first fly into a Schengen airport and then access the microstates by land or sea.
As a result, eligible third-country nationals visiting any of the European microstates must have a valid ETIAS.
The travel permission is required in order to transit through the Schengen nations and reach the microstates.
WHERE DO YOU FLY INTO FOR ANDORRA, MONACO, SAN MARINO, OR VATICAN CITY?
As previously noted, the EU microstates lack international airports. As a result, foreign nationals will need to first arrive in a nearby Schengen country before travelling by land or water to the selected EU microstate.
For international passengers wanting to visit Vatican City, San Marino, Monaco, or Andorra, the following is a general guide:
Andorra is a landlocked country having Schengen borders with France and Spain.
- The nearest French airports are in Toulouse and Perpignan. Non-EU travelers will need an ETIAS for France to fly into Toulouse-Blagnac Airport or Perpignan-Rivesaltes Airport.
- The nearest Spanish airports are in Barcelona, Girona, and Lleida. Visitors from outside the EU will need an ETIAS for Spain to fly into Barcelona El Prat-Josep Tarradellas Airport, Girona-Costa Brava Airport, or Lleida-Alguaire Airport.
Monaco and France share an open border.
- The nearest airport is in Nice, France. Tourists will need an ETIAS for France to land in Cote d’Azur Airport and drive to Monaco.
San Marino and Italy have an open border.
- The nearest major airport is Federico Fellini International Airport, formerly known as Rimini Miramare Airport, in Rimini, Italy.
- Other nearby airports include Marche Airport, formerly known as Ancona Falconara Airport in Ancona, Bologna-Guglielmo Marconi Airport in Bologna, and Forlì International Airport, also known as Luigi Ridolfi Airport, in Forlì.
- Visitors flying into any of these Italian airports to get to San Marino will need an ETIAS for Italy.
The Vatican City has a free border with Italy.
- The nearest airport is in Rome. Travelers flying into Leonardo Da Vinci Fiumicino Airport in Rome will need and ETIAS for Italy.
ANDORRA, MONACO, SAN MARINO, AND VATICAN CITY NATIONALS VISITING SCHENGEN
Despite the fact that Andorra was first announced as an ETIAS qualified country, government officials have formally stated that their people will not require a travel licence to cross the Schengen border.
Passport holders from Andorra, Monaguesque, Sammarinese, and Vanticanien will not be required to carry an ETIAS when visiting nearby Schengen countries.
This exception applies despite the fact that the sovereign nations are not members of the European Union or the Schengen Agreement.
Citizens of European microstates will continue to have unfettered access to the Schengen Area while also benefiting from the greater security provided by the ETIAS.
As a result, passport holders from Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City will continue to have full access to the Schengen Area even after the ETIAS is fully operational in November 2023.
QUICK, CURIOUS FACTS ABOUT THE EUROPEAN MICROSTATES
The traits and attractions of European microstates differ substantially from one another. There are numerous reasons why overseas visitors should visit them instead of the most known European landmarks.
IS MONACO WORTH A VISIT?
Monaco is a city-state with a population of 35,000 people. It is Europe’s second smallest state, at only 2 square kilometres.
Monaco, located on the French Riviera, is a popular vacation resort for Europe’s aristocracy and politicians, as well as international movie stars. Its most famous district is Monte Carlo, which is known for its elegance, yachts, and gleaming casinos.
Monaco is also well-known for hosting the Formula One Grand Prix, one of the most renowned motor racing events in the world.
WHAT IS THE BEST MONTH TO TRAVEL TO MALTA?
Malta is a country comprised of seven islands located near Sicily in the Mediterranean. Until 1964, the country was a part of the United Kingdom, and English was a co-official language (together with Maltese), and most people spoke both.
Valetta, the capital city, is known for its glasswork and fish markets, while the island of Gozo offers a relaxing atmosphere and a lovely scenery of rich foliage and flowers.
The greatest time to visit Malta is in late spring or early fall, when the weather is mild and the climate is dry, but there are no tourists.
IS THE VATICAN FREE TO VISIT?
The Vatican in Rome is the official residence of the Pope (the highest religious authority for Catholics) and 1,000 other residents.
Despite its small size, the Vatican is one of the most visited destinations in the world. Visitors can access the Vatican for free, whether as part of a pilgrimage or to see some of the world’s finest works of art and architecture (such as the St Peter Basilica and the Sistine Chapel). The Basilica is likewise free to see, although admission to the Vatican Museums is required.
HOW LONG DO YOU NEED TO STAY IN SAN MARINO?
San Marino is a mountainous region in northern Italy. San Marino, its capital, is built on Monte Titano and features gorgeous mediaeval architecture and small cobblestone alleyways.
The historic citadel with its Three Towers, built in the 11th century, may be found at the very top of the mountain. In reality, San Marino claims to be the world’s oldest republic.
San Marino is only a 2-hour drive from Bologna and may easily be explored in a single day.
CAN YOU WALK ACROSS LIECHTENSTEIN?
Liechtenstein is only 25 kilometres long (north to south) and 4 kilometres long (east to west), therefore it may be traversed in a matter of hours. This does not, however, imply that it will be a simple stroll.
Liechtenstein sits in the centre of the Alps, between Switzerland and Austria, and the hike will be mostly uphill.
Liechtenstein’s 37,000 inhabitants have one of the world’s highest GDPs per capita. This richness stems from Liechtenstein’s status as a global banking and financial centre.
IS ANDORRA EXPENSIVE TO VISIT?
Andorra is a mountain resort and winter sports paradise located in the Pyrenees on the boundary of France and Spain. Leisure travellers can also relax their muscles at world-class slopes and 5-star spas at the end of the day.
Andorra is less expensive than other well-known European ski locations such as France or Switzerland. Of course, the actual cost of a vacation in Andorra will be determined by a variety of factors, including where passengers fly from and the sort of lodging they book.