The European authorities announced that the new European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) will be live and into full effect by the end of 2022.
The ETIAS program will allow citizens from over 60 countries around the world to travel to the Schengen area visa-free. However, this does not mean that they will not need to notify the European authorities and make arrangements before travelling. They will still need to register online with ETIAS.
Will U.S. citizens need a visa for Europe?
American citizens are currently granted entry into Europe without a visa. For this reason, they do not need to check visa requirements. This only applies to short-term trips, so if US nationals decide to move to Europe permanently, they need to obtain the relevant visa first.
ETIAS will not change the visa-free rights of Americans, meaning that travellers with a US passport will still be able to enter Europe without applying for a visa beforehand. Even once ETIAS comes out in late 2022, it will not mean that Americans will need a visa for Europe.
The ETIAS travel authorisation is a visa waiver that must be obtained by international travellers before entering the Schengen area. Once granted, it lets the holder visit as many Schengen countries as they like for up to 90 days within a 180-day period.
However, ETIAS is not a visa. It is instead an electronic travel permit for visa-exempt foreign citizens such as Americans. It is being introduced to ensure that the Schengen Area can protect the integrity of its borders and improve its internal security by screening passengers before they arrive.
The ETIAS application is designed to be quick and straightforward and entirely online.
ETIAS requirements for American citizens
US citizens are eligible to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver for entry to Europe. Applicants will need to comply with the general ETIAS requirements for non-EU citizens. These includes:
- Providing a valid passport issued by an ETIAS-eligible country (in this case, the United States). The passport will need to remain valid for at least 3 months.
- Using a credit or debit card to pay for the ETIAS for US citizens application fee.
- Providing a current email address to receive information and updates on the application. The approved ETIAS travel authorisation will be also sent to this address.
- Filling out the ETIAS application form in all its parts as accurately as possible.
The ETIAS application process for US citizens
The ETIAS application will be completed and reviewed entirely online. This means that travellers will be able to apply for their ETIAS visa waiver from anywhere in the world (including the US) without having to visit a European embassy or consulate.
Although the application form is designed to be completed in minutes, it is paramount that all fields are filled and that all information is correct. Inaccurate or incomplete information may result in the ETIAS application being delayed or even rejected.
The ETIAS application form for US nationals will require the applicant to provide:
- Personal information like their full name, place of birth, gender, etc.
- Contact details including address, telephone number, email address, etc.
- Passport details pertaining to the passport the traveler will use to enter the Schengen zone
- Travel plans and most importantly, the expected first point of entry to the Schengen area
- Other information such as criminal record and health-related questions.
Why Is ETIAS being implemented?
Nationals of most countries eligible for ETIAS are now able to travel to Europe without applying for a visa. It’s natural that they wonder why ETIAS is being implemented.
ETIAS is designed to benefit both the Schengen area and international tourists. On one hand, it will help European authorities strengthen border control with a streamlined digital system. The Schengen nations will have better control over foreigners crossing their borders and better cooperation within the area.
On the other hand, travellers will enjoy a fast, automated system that will give them the authorisation to travel in minutes without delays and long queues at the consulate and airport. Border checks to be granted entry into Europe are expected to get faster and more effective. The ETIAS visa waiver will allow its holder to travel freely within the Schengen area, which presents no hard internal borders.
It is important to remember that the ETIAS visa waiver does not guarantee entry. Once granted, it must be printed out and presented to the European border control officers upon arrival. They will ultimately make a decision about the traveler’s eligibility to cross the border.