New Requirement for Travel to Europe
UPDATED POST December 13, 2023
The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is delayed until at least May 2025.
I’m not surprised the European Union pushed back the launch of ETIAS for more than a year. The new visa waiver for travel to any of the 27 Schengen Area countries has been postponed numerous times since 2020. The main reason for the delay is that implementation requires the building of a new IT infrastructure in Europe: the Entry/Exit System (EES). This will replace the current manual passport stamping with electronic registration requiring a prior background check.
Americans, Canadians, as well as citizens from other Schengen-visa-exempt countries, will have more than another year to enjoy European travel without applying for the electronic waiver. Until ETIAS is implemented, all you need is a valid passport to enjoy 90 days out of every 180 days in the Schengen Area.
The United Kingdom (not in the Schengen Area) is implementing its own system to increase border security, called the Electronic Travel Association (ETA). Currently, enrollment is only required for citizens from six Middle Eastern countries. However, the UK plans to require Americans, Canadians, as well as citizens from the European Union and other countries to apply for the ETA in the near future.
Read the previous post from August 13th, 2023 below for more information on ETIAS. And subscribe at the bottom of the page to receive updates on ETIAS and ETA.
Planning a trip to Europe in 2024? Unless you have an EU-passport, you’ll need to apply for an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) electronic travel authorization, also known as a visa waiver. This new requirement for entry to one or more of the 27 Schengen Area countries applies to Americans, Canadians, British and other citizens from countries who are Schengen visa exempt.
You still don’t need a visa to visit for tourism or business if your trip is 90 days or less within a 180-day period. But you will need to apply for the ETIAS travel authorization before you leave. The registration process requires a background check, and is similar to what the US requires for non-US citizens visiting America. Its purpose is to increase border security.
How do I register?
When ETIAS registration opens, you’ll need to apply online, provide basic personal information and passport details, and pay €7 ($7.68 based on today’s exchange rate). Children under the age of 18, or anyone over the age of 70, will not need to pay the fee. ETIAS estimates 95 percent of applications will receive a decision within minutes of submission. Once approved, the travel authorization will be issued for a period of three years or until the date your passport expires, whichever date is sooner.
What countries are in the Schengen Area?
The Schengen Area includes the following 23 European Union countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden, as well these four non-EU countries: Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
The Schengen Area does not include Ireland, Northern Ireland or the United Kingdom, which includes England, Wales and Scotland. Americans can stay for up to 90 days in Ireland or up to six months in the United Kingdom without a visa.
What else do I need to know?
Here’s a few other details to be aware of.
You don't need to have confirmed travel plans to apply for the ETIAS travel authorization.
If you have a six-month or one-year visa to a Schengen-member country, you won’t need the ETIAS travel authorization.
The travel authorization is linked to your current passport.
To apply for the ETIAS travel authorization, your passport must be valid for at least three months after your intended date of departure from the Schengen Area.
If your passport expires within those three years, you’ll need to apply for a new visa waiver after you receive your new passport.
For more information, and to apply when the application process starts, see the ETIAS website.
If your passport is expiring in the next two years, you might want to renew it before applying for the ETIAS travel authorization, especially when passport renewals can take up to 17 weeks (according to a recent Forbes article).
Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions. I've been following this story for the past few years as the implementation of ETIAS has been delayed a number of times. If there are further delays, and/or when they announce the start of the registration process, I’ll provide an updated post. So please subscribe below if you haven’t already.