Anyone considering travel to Europe in 2024 should be aware of a new requirement scheduled to go into effect for U.S. passport holders. Today, American travelers have visa-free access to many global destinations.
The days of unrestricted privileges for leisure travel across much of Europe are numbered. Visitors from a number of countries, including the United States, will need to obtain a travel pass to visit certain parts of Europe next year. Currently, travelers from dozens of countries, including the United States, can enter with just their passport and move freely through most of the European Union (EU) for stays under 90 days. But a new entry requirement for visa-exempt nationals called the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is scheduled to become effective next year. The system is similar to the U.S.’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) requirement for short-term stays for foreign visitors from visa-exempt countries. It is being established to help identify security, irregular migration or high epidemic risks posed by visa-exempt visitors, according to the European Commission website.
ETIAS is a new travel requirement that U.S., U.K. and other passport holders must obtain for visiting 30 European countries starting in 2024. ETIAS is not a visa, and it doesn’t guarantee entry. It is a travel authorization. The pass is for short-term stays, entitling those persons to stay in the European country requiring it for up to 90 days within any 180-day period. The pass lasts for either three years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.
The application is not live yet, and at the time this column was written, a launch date had not been announced. When it does become available, the application form can be obtained on the official ETIAS website as well as a mobile application. All communication is done by email. The application form has a fee of seven euros or approximately $7.79 in U.S. dollars for those 18 to 70 years old. Those under 18 or over 70 can apply at no charge. Family members of EU citizens also do not have to pay to apply. All travelers, regardless of age, will require a separate and approved ETIAS to travel to EU.
Applicants will fill out an electronic form on the ETIAS website, ETIS.com. Your passport and a credit card will be required when applying. The form will ask for personal information, including your name, date of birth, home address, phone contact and email address. Passport details will be required, along with the countries you are planning to visit. There are also some other basic questions to be answered. Once the form is submitted, an email confirmation will be sent upon your approval. Most applications will be processed within 20 minutes. However, some applications may take longer, even up to 30 days. Before your current ETIAS is due to expire, an email will be sent to you, informing you of its upcoming expiration.
EU officials strongly recommend that travelers apply ahead of time, before booking and making travel plans, although most people applying for the pass a month or so before their departure should be adequate. When a person can apply for an ETIAS will depend on the status of his or her passport, which must not be expired or within three months of expiring for the application approval.
Each time someone applies for a new passport, he or she must apply for a new ETIAS. Once ETIAS is implemented, many commonly visited European vacation spots, such as Italy, Spain, Croatia, Netherlands, Greece, Germany, Iceland, France, Switzerland and many more, will require the pass for you to enter the country. You do not need to apply for an ETIAS for each member country you visit. An approved ETIAS will cover all visits to ETIAS member countries, regardless of the traveler’s point of EU entry or exit. The pass will be linked to your passport. Those who do not have a valid ETIAS pass will be refused entry to the countries requiring it.
Once you are approved for the travel pass, no other requirements are needed. Border agents will have access to the pass through your passport, so showing your passport is all that is needed. It is not necessary to print out your ETIAS approval, but having a paper copy is recommended for backup.
If this program is similar to our Real ID in the U.S., you just need to stay informed as the start date can move. Contact your professional travel consultant for the latest up-to-date travel requirements.