Citizens of many countries, including the United States, have enjoyed visa-free travel to Europe for decades. We simply get on a plane or ship, show up with passport in hand, and receive free entry for up to 90 days. That will change in a little over two years from now.
Starting July 1, 2021, citizens of the U.S. and dozens of other countries that enjoy visa-free travel will need to apply online for permission to enter Europe at least 96 hours before travel. Once approved, each traveler may come and go freely for 3 years before having to apply again.
This new requirement, called ETIAS (EU Travel Information & Authorisation System), is a security check rather than a visa, so citizens of the affected countries will still have visa-free travel to and within Europe as before. The only difference is that travel must be authorized in advance.
Here are the key points according to Forbes magazine:
- The ETIAS application process will take place online and should take less than 10 minutes to complete.
- Applicants will be asked to provide three types of information: 1) a valid passport (with an expiration date that is at least three months longer than the intended stay; 2) a credit or debit card, and 3) an email address.
- Application must take place at least 96 hours before travel.
- Applications need to be made for infants and children as well as adults.
- The cost will be 7 Euros per person, waived for those under the age of 18. Payment will need to be made online via credit or debit card.
- The application will be checked against a number of security databases as well as an ETIAS watchlist, and then will either be approved or denied by email. If an application is denied, an explanation will be provided (which can be appealed).
- ETIAS travel authorization will be valid for multiple entries over the course of three years.
In the end, not a big difference for travelers. The United States already does a version of this for many Europeans and others who visit.
The ETIAS program won’t arrive in time to affect my upcoming “Biblical Greece & the Greek Isles” tour this October. Registration is open! Email me or comment to request details.