Many foreigners are fascinated by Europe’s microstates. These are fully independent countries located both in Europe’s mainland (for example, Andorra, Liechtenstein, and Monaco) and off the European coast, like in the case of Malta.
Two of these miniature countries are located within the Italian borders — San Marino and Vatican City. Although both are sovereign nations with their unique traits — the geography, forms of government, and even the calendar of the two states differ — San Marino and the Vatican have many things in common.
Neither San Marino or the Vatican are EU members. They also aren’t considered part of the Schengen zone. However, travelers don’t need to fret about complicated visa processes and currency exchange.
Tourists interested in visiting San Marino and Vatican City will be able to use the same currency (euro) and visa permit they would in Italy. For over 60 eligible nationalities, this simply means getting an ETIAS visa waiver for Italy online before traveling.
Why Is ETIAS Necessary to Enter Vatican City and San Marino?
Although they’re not officially part of the Schengen zone, neither of the two microstates has an airport on its territory. Being entirely surrounded by Italy, this means that travelers have to enter Italy in order to reach San Marino and the Vatican.
Both the Vatican and San Marino maintain an open border with Italy. Once international tourists have passed passport control upon entering Italy, they won’t have to go through it again to visit the microstates. And since Italy is part of the Schengen area, Schengen rules apply de facto to San Marino and the Vatican.
Although there are several types of visas available for Italy, travelers from outside the EU who wish to spend a limited time within the Italian territory are likely to need an ETIAS visa waiver for the Schengen area before leaving. The ETIAS visa waiver is a travel authorization that will be fully implemented in 2020 and aims to streamline and strengthen border control for the Schengen zone.
Thanks to the ETIAS program, international tourists will be able to spend up to 90 days within a 180-day period within the Schengen zone — including Italy and therefore, San Marino and Vatican City. The ETIAS application process is expected to be quick and straightforward and will be completed entirely online.
Specific Immigration Rules for the Vatican and San Marino
A valid ETIAS authorization for Italy will be enough to enter and visit both San Marino and Vatican City. However, like all sovereign countries, these two states have other immigration policies in place.
Foreign visitors wishing to spend more than 10 days in San Marino, for example, need to obtain a permit from the government.
Vatican City offers no tourist accommodation facilities (no hotels, hostels, rental apartments,etc.). This means that it’s virtually impossible for foreigners to spend the night in the Vatican unless they’re hosted by the local authorities.
How to Get the ETIAS Visa Waiver for San Marino and Vatican City
In order to visit the Vatican and San Marino, foreign nationals will need to obtain an ETIAS travel authorization for Italy prior to departure. This can be easily done online by checking that all the ETIAS Italy requirements are met and filling out the application form in all its parts with accurate information.
The ETIAS application is designed to be quick and easy to submit and can be completed from anywhere in the world. So no matter where the traveler departs from, they will be able to obtain an ETIAS visa waiver for Italy as long as they have access to the Internet. Once granted, the travel authorization will be received via email.
The ETIAS travel authorization is not a visa but rather a way for the European authorities to have better control of movement across and within their borders. That’s why foreign nationals should have no issues in obtaining an ETIAS travel authorization and cross the borders of San Marino and Vatican City as long as they comply with the ETIAS requirements and terms and conditions.