Featuring stunning landscapes, Austria is a country with plenty of things to do and see. More importantly, it is safe to travel to Austria. Foreign visitors can explore the country at ease. According to the Global Peace Index Report, published by the Institute of Economics and Peace, Austria ranks in 3rd place out of 163 countries in terms of safety. The report uses 23 different indicators to determine how safe a country is. There are three main categories: the level of societal safety and security, the extent of ongoing domestic and international conflict, and the degree of militarisation.
The 2018 Global Peace Index reports that the world is, “less peaceful today than at any time in the last decade.” Europe ranks as the safest region in the world, however, the European Union believes that stronger measures need to be taken to protect its borders. Already in 2016 European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker established the need for security and an electronic travel authorization system. During his State of the Union Address, on September 14th, Juncker said, “We need to know who is crossing our borders.” Soon after, the commission proposed to introduce ETIAS, an European Travel and Information Authorization System to pre-screen third-country nationals from visa exempt countries.
ETIAS for a safer Austria
The ETIAS visa waiver for Austria will contribute to the overall security of the country and of the Schengen Zone. ETIAS will be a mandatory requirement for citizens of over 60 countries that can currently visit the Schengen Area without a visa. The goal of ETIAS is to determine a traveler’s eligibility by identifying whether the person could pose a threat to the region and its citizens.
ETIAS is going to be managed by the eu-Lisa Agency, which operates large scale IT systems and currently handles the Second Generation Schengen Information System (SIS II), the Visa Information System (VIS), and the European Dactyloscopy (EURODAC) which is a fingerprint database for identifying asylum seekers and irregular border-crossers.
Several countries in the Schengen Area have been targeted by terrorist groups and the region has been dealing with a rise in irregular immigration as well. The EU has made security one of its main priorities and ETIAS will contribute greatly to the safety of Austria and the safety of all other Schengen member countries.
ETIAS is expected to be launched in 2022. Travelers who wish to visit Austria and are from one of the 62 eligible countries will need to complete an online application with their personal details and passport data. They will need to indicate which country in the Schengen Area they intend to enter and will be required to answer security questions about their medical and criminal history. After the application has been submitted it will be processed and the details entered by the applicant will be compared against several databases, including Interpol and Europol databases.
The system will identify whether a person has used a stolen passport on their application or if they have lied or provided false data. If an application sets off an alarm, the respective team will manually check the application. In case that the ETIAS visa waiver is rejected, the applicant has the right to appeal. They may be requested to provide additional documents.
Safety tips when traveling in Austria
Austria has a low crime rate. With that said, you should be aware that petty crime does occur. All foreign visitors should take the necessary precautions to avoid them:
- Do not leave valuables unattended
- Be vigilant around major public transport hubs and city centre, especially at night time
- Safeguard your valuables (phone, tablet, wallet) against pickpockets
- When traveling by train, keep an eye on your luggage
This beautiful country is well-known for its skiing opportunities. However, it is very important to check whether it is safe to go skiing at particular time. You can contact the Austrian Tourist Agency and follow all the safety instructions given by them. Off-piste skiing is extremely dangerous. Additionally, you should follow advice about danger of avalanches in some areas. Use common sense and avoid skiing if the weather is not ideal. On arrival, be sure to check with local tourist offices on snow and weather conditions.
If you’ll be driving in Austria, make sure you have a license and insurance details with you at all times. In winter, all vehicles should be adapted to winter road conditions.