European Union Prepares New Travel Requirement For Americans

Many nations have long allowed citizens of the United States to visit without a visa. 

According to the Henley Passport Index, U.S. citizens can visit 184 countries without one. A U.S. passport is considered the world’s eighth-most valuable travel document. 

However, beginning in 2019, the European Union will need additional forms of identification from American travelers.

Beginning in early 2024, the ETIAS system will require all tourists, including nationals of the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, who presently travel to Europe without a visa to apply for travel authorization and gain permission before departing.

ETIAS visas are unconventional in design and function. Authorization is granted when a visitor fills out an online form with personal details, itinerary details, and security questions.

In most cases, applicants will receive their travel documents within an hour, although this time frame might increase to 96 hours if additional checks are needed. The application is required for all passengers, regardless of age, and costs €7 (about $8). 

Once granted, this permission allows for re-entry for three years or until the passport expires, whichever comes first.

When the program was introduced, many people in the United States were alarmed at the prospect of waiting again for a travel document. However, as more details of ETIAS have been made public, many tourists have expressed relief at the seeming simplicity of the procedure. 

All countries that are part of the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) will require this travel authorization, including full Schengen members like Spain, France, and Italy and EFTA countries like Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland.

By digitally screening and tracking visitors entering and leaving EU nations, ETIAS hopes to improve border security. The Electronic Travel Authorization (ESTA) scheme for foreign nationals entering the United States is conceptually and procedurally identical to this one. Because of the parallels, the new criteria are now more understood.

It’s important to note that the maximum length of time American tourists may stay in Europe won’t alter. 

Holders of United States passports are only permitted a 90-day stay within a 180-day term. A special visa is needed for visits exceeding 90 days.

Even visa-free countries now require visitors to prove their identity and submit medical documentation.