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How Electronic Travel Authorizations Are Making International Travel Easier

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How Electronic Travel Authorizations Are Making International Travel Easier

It’s no surprise that countries are tightening their border security after a recent spat of isolated terrorist attacks over the past few years. Although border security has increased worldwide, a few of the more popular travel destinations have implemented electronic travel authorization systems in the form of electronic (i.e. eVisas) and Visa Waivers to make it easier for many foreign nationals to enter for tourism and business travel. This guide provides information on where to get the appropriate travel authorization for popular destinations, as well as information on how much each travel authorization will cost, the validity period for each, and the type of uses permitted.

EU Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS)

It’s no surprise that Europe is one of the most popular destinations for tourism and business, yet it is one of the last to implement an electronic travel authorization system. ETIAS will roll out starting in 2020. The system is intended to streamline border security checks for business and tourist travelers from over 50 countries by allowing them to apply online for travel authorization before arriving in one of the EU or Schengen area countries. Once ETIAS is deployed, it will be the most widely used form of electronic travel authorization given the millions of yearly EU visitors.

Cost: €5 for individuals over the age of 18, free for travelers under the age of 18.

Where to apply: To be determined.

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United States Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)

In 2009, the United States deployed their Visa Waiver system,ESTA. Although the system has been under recent scrutiny over potential abuse and security concerns, ESTA has been in use for over seven years and is a valuable screening tool for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, as well as serving as a source of revenue bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars per year to the U.S. government. Upon issuance, ESTA is valid for two years, or the date of passport expiration (whichever comes first), and can be used for visits of up to 90 days for tourism, business, transit or medical purposes. As of 2016, there are 38 countries whose citizens are eligible for the ESTA.

Cost: $14 USD if your application is approved, or just $4 USD if your application is denied.

Where to apply: Visit https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

Australian Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) and Electronic Visitor (eVisitor)

Both the Australian eTA and eVisitor travel authorizations make it simple for travelers to apply online for entry into Australia. The eVisitor is for citizens of 36 different European countries who wish to visit Australia for business, tourism, or transit purposes. The eVisitor is valid for 12 months from the date of issue and can be used for up to three months per visit during the 12-month period. Best of all, the eVisitor does not impose any application fees. The Australian eTA is for citizens of just over a handful of countries and allows these business or tourist travelers to stay in the country for a maximum of three months per visit and is also valid for a period of 12 months from the date of issue.

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Cost: $20 AUD per eTA application (non-refundable even if application denied) and free for eVisitor applicants.

Where to apply: For eTA Applications visit www.eta.immi.gov.au and eVisitor applicants visit https://online.immi.gov.au/lusc/login

Canada Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)

The latest country to roll out an electronic travel authorization system is Canada. The Canadian eTA allows tourist, business, and transit travelers to apply online for an authorization which will be valid for five years, or until the date of passport expiration, and be used for stays of up to six months per visit for the purposes of tourism, business, or transit. As of 2016, there are over 50 countries whose citizens are eligible to apply for an eTA.

Cost: $7 CAD (non-refundable even if application denied)

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Where to apply: Visit http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta-start.asp

Indian e-Tourist Visa

The Indian eVisa is for travelers from nearly 150 countries. The Indian e-Tourist visa is issued for anywhere between 6 months to 10 years (for U.S. citizens). The maximum amount of time permitted per stay is 180 days and the e-Tourist Visa can be used for tourism, business, transit or medical purposes.

Cost: The cost ranges between $0 to $60 USD, depending on the citizenship of the traveler.

Where to apply: Visit https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/Registration

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Why are governments using eVisa and Visa Waivers? Visa Waivers and eVisa systems allow for greater ease of entry and exit at the border for travelers from various countries, as well as allow host countries to better monitor the flow of visitors through their borders. Most Visa Waivers and eVisas require the following:

  • Applicants must have an electronic passport (i.e. with an electronic chip); this allows border authorities to link the passport of the traveler with the approved travel authorization, which is then checked at the border.
  • Applicants must have an electronic passport which is valid on the date of arrival to the host country, and preferably have six months or more remaining before expiration.
  • Applicants must from an eligible country.
  • Applicants must not have a recent and / or serious criminal record.
  • Applicants must be free from any contagious diseases.
  • Applicants should not plan on staying in the host country for purposes of other then a short-stay for business, tourism or transit purposes.

Most application forms support multiple languages and accept online debit or credit card payments. Most Visa Waivers and eVisas are issued within 72 hours or less of submitting an online application. These electronic travel authorizations also share the same commonality in that they usually allow multiple entries on the same authorization. However, most cannot be renewed, thus applicants must reapply for travel authorizations once their previous approval has expired.

If you’re planning to visit the USA, Europe, Australia, Canada, or India, rest assured these countries make it easy to get the right travel authorization online in a fast and relatively low cost manner.

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Areion Azimi

Product Director at Sweet Startup

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Last Updated on January 27, 2022

5 Reasons Why Food is the Best Way to Understand a Culture

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5 Reasons Why Food is the Best Way to Understand a Culture

Food plays an integral role in our lives and rightfully so: the food we eat is intricately intertwined with our culture. You can learn a lot about a particular culture by exploring their food. In fact, it may be difficult to fully define a culture without a nod to their cuisine.

“Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are.” – Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1825).

Don’t believe me? Here’s why food is the best way to understand a culture:

Food is a universal necessity.

It doesn’t matter where in the world you’re from – you have to eat. And your societal culture most likely evolved from that very need, the need to eat. Once they ventured beyond hunting and gathering, many early civilizations organized themselves in ways that facilitated food distribution and production. That also meant that the animals, land and resources you were near dictated not only what you’d consume, but how you’d prepare and cook it. The establishment of the spice trade and the merchant silk road are two example of the great lengths many took to obtain desirable ingredients.

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Food preservation techniques are unique to climates and lifestyle.

Ever wonder why the process to preserve meat is so different around the world? It has to do with local resources, needs, and climates. In Morocco, Khlea is a dish composed of dried beef preserved in spices and then packed in animal fat. When preserved correctly, it’s still good for two years when stored at room temperature. That makes a lot of sense in Morocco, where the country historically has had a strong nomadic population, desert landscape, and extremely warm, dry temperatures.

Staples of a local cuisines illustrate historical eating patterns.

Some societies have cuisines that are entirely based on meat, and others are almost entirely plant-based. Some have seasonal variety and their cuisines change accordingly during different parts of the year. India’s cuisine is extremely varied from region to region, with meat and wheat heavy dishes in the far north, to spectacular fish delicacies in the east, to rice-based vegetarian diets in the south, and many more variations in between.

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The western part of India is home to a group of strict vegetarians: they not only avoid flesh and eggs, but even certain strong aromatics like garlic, or root vegetables like carrots and potatoes. Dishes like Papri Chat, featuring vegetable based chutneys mixed with yoghurt, herbs and spices are popular.

Components of popular dishes can reveal cultural secrets.

This is probably the most intriguing part of studying a specific cuisine. Certain regions of the world have certain ingredients easily available to them. Most people know that common foods such as corn, tomatoes, chili peppers, and chocolate are native to the Americas, or “New World”. Many of today’s chefs consider themselves to be extremely modern when fusing cuisines, but cultural lines blended long ago when it comes to purity of ingredients.

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Black pepper originated in Asia but became, and still remains, a critical part of European cuisine. The Belgians are some of the finest chocolatiers, despite it not being native to the old world. And perhaps one of the most interesting result from the blending of two cuisines is Chicken Tikka Masala; it resembles an Indian Mughali dish, but was actually invented by the British!

Food tourism – it’s a whole new way to travel.

Some people have taken the intergation of food and culture to a new level. No trip they take is complete with out a well-researched meal plan, that dictates not only the time of year for their visit, but also how they will experience a new culture.

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So, a food tourist won’t just focus on having a pint at Oktoberfest, but will be interested in learning the German beer making process, and possibly how they can make their own fresh brew. Food tourists visit many of the popular mainstays for traditional tourism, like New York City, San Francisco, London, or Paris, but many locations that they frequent, such as Armenia or Laos, may be off the beaten path for most travelers. And since their interest in food is more than meal deep, they have the chance to learn local preparation techniques that can shed insight into a whole other aspect of a particular region’s culture.

Featured photo credit: Young Shih via unsplash.com

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