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:
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.