Starting in 2021 Travel to Europe Will Require an Extra Step


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A new screening process will affect citizens from over 60 countries

Starting in 2021, U.S. citizens and nationals of over 60 other countries will need an electronic travel authorization to visit much of Europe.

Travelers to any Schengen-zone country will have to register with a European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). ETIAS will be similar to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) already used in the United States.

How will it work?

Most travelers have no need to worry. The process will involve a quick online application and a €7.00 credit card payment. According to the European Commission, “ETIAS will be a simple, fast and visitor-friendly system, which will, in more than 95% of cases, result in a positive answer within a few minutes.”

The authorization will be valid for unlimited entries within a three year period so travelers who frequent Europe won’t need to apply every time. Without a visa (ETIAS is not a visa), U.S. citizens will still need to limit their travel to 90 days within any 180-day period, the same limit currently in effect.

Americans will need an electronic authorization to visit Europe
Americans will need an electronic authorization to visit Europe
Image courtesy of Pixabay

If I’m traveling to Europe, when should I apply for ETIAS authorization?

Until 2021, ETIAS authorization will not be required. Once it goes into effect travelers should be able to obtain the authorization online within minutes, in most cases. Of course it’s better not to wait until the last minute. In rare cases applicants may be asked for additional information, which could take a few days or longer to process.

Which countries does this apply to?

ETIAS authorization will be needed for travel to any country that is part of the Schengen Borders Agreement. This includes: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

I’m not a U.S. citizen. Will this affect me?

ETIAS will apply to anyone who travels visa-free to the Schengen area. This includes nationals of over 60 countries. More information can be found within the European Commission’s press release regarding ETIAS.

James Bridge

James manages the programs for U.S. citizens at InterExchange.

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