Visiting Europe will soon become a more complex and expensive endeavor for many U.S. travelers as new visa requirements come into effect. The European Union’s official travel site has announced that visitors from more than 60 countries, currently exempt from visa requirements, will be obliged to apply for European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) approval before embarking on their European journeys, starting in 2025. This launch date was pushed back from the original plan of 2024.
ETIAS visas are not physical documents but are electronically linked to the traveler’s passport. This means that U.S. nationals, who currently enjoy the convenience of traveling to most E.U. countries without prior authorization, will face a change in their ease of movement with the implementation of this new law. It’s worth noting that visitors from many countries have been required to seek similar approvals for travel to the United States since 2009, with the U.S. Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) process bearing similarities to the upcoming ETIAS plan.
Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know about the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS):
What is the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS)? ETIAS is described in E.U. documentation as “an entry requirement for visa-exempt nationals traveling to any of these 30 European countries.” It’s important to note that ETIAS approval is intended for short-term stays, allowing visitors to spend up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
How can you apply for an ETIAS visa? Starting in mid-2025 when the ETIAS requirement takes effect, the European Union will offer applications through an official website and a mobile app. Travelers will be required to provide their passport information or another eligible travel document to which a visa can be affixed. Parents and legal guardians will have the ability to apply on behalf of minors under their care.
How long does ETIAS approval last? ETIAS approval remains valid for three years or until the expiration of the passport it is associated with, whichever comes first.
How much will an ETIAS application cost? The processing fee for ETIAS applications is set at 7 euros ($7.64). However, applicants who are either under 18 or over 70 years old can apply for ETIAS at no charge.
How long will ETIAS application processing take? The European Union anticipates that ETIAS approval should typically be granted within minutes for most applicants. However, in some cases, it may take up to 30 days. Travelers are strongly encouraged to apply well in advance of their planned trips and are advised to secure their ETIAS approval before booking flights or accommodations.
Can I be denied entry to a country with a valid ETIAS visa? Yes, it’s important to note that travelers will still be subject to border formalities upon arrival, and holding an ETIAS visa does not guarantee entry into a country.
In summary, U.S. travelers should be prepared for changes in their European travel plans as the ETIAS system comes into effect in 2025, requiring visa-exempt visitors to obtain prior approval before their trips. It’s essential to stay informed and plan ahead to ensure a smooth and hassle-free journey to Europe.