🌐 Wait, do you need a visa to go to Europe now? The new ETIAS requirements, explained 🌐

Mohamed Aboshanab

Already dreaming about your next summer vacation? If Europe is on your travel radar, there might be an additional step you need to take before embarking on that exciting journey.

Starting from the year 2024, American passport holders planning to travel to 30 European countries will be required to obtain authorization through the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS).

πŸ”Ž What is ETIAS? Is it a visa?

Some media outlets have referred to ETIAS as a visa, but in reality, it functions more like a travel authorization form. β€œIt’s definitely not a visa,” clarified Dan Hamilton, a senior non-resident fellow for foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. β€œIt’s an electronic entry-point, an authorization for countries that are currently visa-free.”

The European Commission also emphasizes that ETIAS is not a visa, rather it is an β€œautomated IT system,” as stated in their press release back in 2018. ETIAS is specifically required for short-term trips, allowing travelers to stay in Europe for up to 90 days within any 180-day period.

πŸ’‘ Why is it being implemented?

The introduction of ETIAS has been in the works for several years and is a response to heightened terrorism concerns following the events of 9/11. The system revolves around an electronic database to better track the movement of individuals in and out of the European countries. With EU law enforcement authorities apprehending around 388 terrorism-related suspects in 2021, the need for enhanced security measures has become evident.

While ETIAS may also have the added effect of curbing illegal immigration, it is not designed to discourage tourism. Many European countries heavily depend on tourism revenue to recover from pandemic-related economic slumps.

πŸ—“οΈ When does it take effect?

The European Union plans to implement the new authorization system in 2024, though the exact date remains unspecified. Delays in the rollout have occurred before, so it is advisable to plan ahead for any travel in 2024 to be on the safe side.

πŸ›‚ Who needs to apply for ETIAS approval?

ETIAS approval will be required for passport holders from 60 countries, including the United States, who currently enjoy visa-free travel to most European destinations. This amounts to approximately 1.4 billion people, according to the European Union’s estimate.

The impacted destinations include 27 European countries forming the β€œSchengen Area,” known for its ease of movement between nations. Among these countries are popular vacation spots such as France, Italy, and Spain. Additionally, Romania, Bulgaria, and Cyprus are also part of the impacted destination list, as they are aspiring to become part of the Schengen Area soon.

πŸ“ How can you apply for ETIAS approval (and does it cost money)?

The application process for ETIAS is not yet open, but once it is, travelers can fill out the necessary forms through a web portal or a mobile phone application. The application will require personal information, such as date of birth, parents’ names, current occupation, and details about any previous criminal convictions. A valid passport with an expiration date of at least three months from the application date will also be required.

To obtain ETIAS authorization, travelers will need to pay a fee of 7 euros (approximately $8).

⏳ When is the right time to apply?

For peace of mind, it is recommended to apply well in advance of your travel date, ideally no later than a month before. ETIAS states that most applications are processed within minutes, with decisions delivered within four days. However, this processing time may increase to 14 days if additional information is requested, and up to 30 days if an interview is required. Those denied an application can appeal, but this process may result in further delays.

ETIAS approval remains valid for three years or until the passport used in the application expires. To maintain good standing, travelers must adhere to the ETIAS rules, allowing stays of up to 90 days within any 180-day period in the European countries on the list.

❌ What happens if I don’t apply for ETIAS and attempt to travel to Europe?

Without ETIAS approval linked to your passport, you will be denied boarding at the airport, as well as on cruise, bus, or train lines. In short, your dream European vacation would not come to fruition. Don’t let that happen, make sure to get your ETIAS approval to ensure smooth and stress-free travels!

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