Lithuania is a country member of the European Union, located in the far northeast of Europe, within the Schengen Zone. Together with Estonia and Latvia, Lithuania comprises the Baltic States. The territory of Lithuania is bordered by two Member States – Latvia and Poland – and two non-Schengen countries, Belarus and Kaliningrad (Russia).
Once a part of the USSR, Lithuania was the first ex-Soviet country to disassociate from the Soviet Union, gaining its independence in 1991. Since then, the economy of Lithuania has strengthened with great speed, marked by significant growth of the GDP.
One of the most important activities in Lithuania is the extraction of amber, a fossil resin used in jewellery making.
After their independence, Lithuania and the other Baltic States tried to reduce economic and political ties with Russia. Hence, they never joined the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) – an economic bloc formed by former Soviet Union republics. Instead, Lithuania and its Baltic neighbours joined the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and finally, the Schengen Area.
The tourism industry in Lithuania has been strengthening since the country became an EU member and signed the Schengen Agreement. Because much of Lithuanian territory is covered by forests, a large part of travellers tends to search for eco-tourism alternatives.
The Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia) are a part of both the EU and the Schengen Area, which means all EU passport holders are free to enter Lithuanian territory without going through border checks. Likewise, Lithuanian nationals can travel through Europe visa-free. Non-EU citizens who are exempt from a Schengen visa (like Canadians) can visit Lithuania for up to 90 days in every 180-day period. However, as of 2021, such travellers will have to bear a valid ETIAS.
In 2004, a large movement by many East European nations – including Lithuania, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, among others – brought new members to the European Union. Following its admission into the EU, Lithuania and the other Baltic States (Estonia and Latvia) joined the Schengen Area in 2007.
This new phase in Lithuanian politics improved the country’s economy greatly, as well as created a series of opportunities for its citizens. The government of Lithuania has thus been actively engaged in all matters related to EU and Schengen policy-making.
The European Parliament predicts that the ETIAS will start in 2021 and although the new immigration system will be a big change, it will not affect travel regulations for EU nationals. As a part of its approach, the ETIAS is directed at non-EU passport holders who up until 2021 don’t need a visa to visit the Schengen Zone.
By implementing a pre-travel electronic authorization, the ETIAS system will gather information from travellers and identify potential threats before they land in Europe.
With this dynamic immigration procedure, the EU will give Lithuanian authorities more control over who is arriving and departing from the Schengen Territory.
Lithuania and Canada celebrated 25 years of diplomatic relations in 2016. The relationship between Canada and the Baltic States has always been positive since Canada never recognized the annexation of Lithuania, Estonia, or Latvia to the USSR. Moreover, when Lithuania restored its independence in 1991, Canada was one of the first nations to recognize it as an independent country.
As part of the United Nations, the NATO, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Canada and Lithuania collaborate in various international matters. Both countries have similar views on issues related to human rights and social inclusion which makes them work together in global actions around such matters.
Another factor that fortifies bilateral relations between both nations is the large community of Lithuanians who reside in Canada. Because of such close ties, Canada and Lithuania have signed a Youth Mobility Agreement, which has allowed for many Lithuanian and Canadian citizens between 18 and 35 years old to enrol in short-term work experiences in the other country.
Since 2016, Lithuanian nationals have been subject to an eTA when travelling to Canada with touristic or business purposes for no longer than 90 days. As of 2021, Lithuania and all other Schengen Member States will introduce a similar program for Canadians, called ETIAS.
The ETIAS will be an online authorization aimed at citizens from more than 50 countries which enjoy a Schengen visa-waiver agreement, including Canadians. Once Canadian travellers have filled out the online form and paid the processing fee, the ETIAS system will verify if he/she presents a threat to the security of the Schengen community. If granted an ETIAS, Canadian visitors will be able to travel to Lithuania for up to 3 months in every period of 6 months, before the end of the 5-year ETIAS validity.