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Visiting European Microstates from the U.S.


From the end of 2022, U.S. citizens visiting any of the 26 Schengen Area countries will need to apply for the ETIAS visa waiver prior to departure.

The European Travel and Information Authorization System, which is to be launched next year, aims to increase security across the Schengen Area, benefiting both residents and tourists.

This new policy has caused some confusion regarding European microstates, many Americans are unsure as to whether they need to apply for the ETIAS to visit popular European destinations such as Andorra and Monaco.

U.S. visitors hoping to enjoy the ski slopes and stunning natural landscapes of Andorra, or experience the history and culture of San Marino, need to be prepared for the new policy coming into effect next year.

In addition to finding out whether they will need to apply an ETIAS to travel, American passport holders can find useful information below about the best routes to take when visiting a microstate.

Which European Nations are Microstates?

Microstates are nations with a small land area and/or population. In the past, Europe was made up of many microstates that have been absorbed by other countries over the years. Some, however, have maintained their independence, enjoying international recognition.
There is some disagreement as to which European nations qualify as a microstate. Despite the lack of consensus, most scholars agree that the following states meet all the criteria:

  • Andorra
  • Liechtenstein
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • San Marino
  • Vatican City

Malta is the only full EU member from this list, the rest, with the exception of Liechtenstein, have a special agreement with the European Union. Among other things, this relationship allows them to use the Euro as currency.

Do U.S. Citizens Require an ETIAS to Visit Microstates?

Americans traveling to Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City will need to apply for an ETIAS from late 2022.

San Marino, Monaco and Vatican City all form part of the Schengen Area de facto due to the fact that they have open borders with neighboring countries:

  • Monaco: open border with France, Schengen visa policy applies
  • San Marino: open border with Italy, access only possible via Italy and Schengen visa policy applies
  • Vatican City: open border with Italy, access only possible via Italy and Schengen visa policy applies

As these 3 microstates share the visa policy of the Schengen Area, ETIAS will be required from the end of 2022. Furthermore, it is only possible for international travelers to fly into these nations via neighboring Schengen Area countries.

Americans should apply for the ETIAS for the country with which the state shares an open border, from where they will be able to cross the border.

Andorra is slightly different in that there are no visa requirements for foreign visitors. However, as the country is landlocked and has no airport, the only way to access Andorra is through Spain or France, both of which are Schengen countries to which ETIAS applies.

As this travel permit will be obligatory from the end of 2022, it is important that Americans are prepared and check they meet all the ETIAS requirements for U.S. passport holders.

Flying to Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City from the U.S.

As mentioned above, Americans need to fly into the closest neighboring country.

The most convenient routes for flying to Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City are as follows:

  • Andorra, fly to Barcelona El Prat Airport or Girona Airport, apply for Spain ETIAS
  • Monaco, fly to Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport, apply for France ETIAS
  • San Marino, fly to Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport or Marche Airport, apply for Italy ETIAS
  • Vatican City: fly to Rome–Fiumicino International Airport, apply for Italy ETIAS

Travelers can then cross the land border separating the Schengen Area country from the microstate.

How to Apply for ETIAS to Visit a Microstate

Americans heading to Europe can apply for the ETIAS online, the application takes just a few minutes to complete and 95% of applications will be approved within 24 hours (some may take longer so it is best to apply ahead of time).

On approval, the visa waiver is sent by email to be printed at home and presented on arrival. Once in possession of a valid ETIAS, American tourists can make the most of their trip to Europe, all 26 Schengen Area countries can be explored using the same permit.

ETIAS is valid for 3 years from the issue date or until the passport expires. With it, U.S. citizens can enjoy stays of up to 90 days in a 180-day period.