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The scheduled introduction of ETIAS, a special travel authorization covering most of Europe, has been postponed from 2024 until May 2025. So, if you have a summer vacation in Europe coming up, you’ll have one less task for your to-do list.
Once the program starts, ETIAS—which stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System—will require an estimated 1.4 billion people to have special authorization to enter 30 countries in the Schengen area of Europe. The document will cost about $7.50 and be valid for three consecutive years.
For now, most Americans will need only a passport to visit most of the Schengen countries. But when ETIAS finally kicks in, it will be a requirement: If you don’t have it, you won’t be allowed to get on that plane.
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What Is ETIAS?
ETIAS was approved in 2016 as part of an international effort to increase security. It was originally scheduled to begin in 2021, but its start was delayed by a series of obstacles, including the Covid-19 pandemic and a lack of infrastructure to support the program.
Under ETIAS, travelers will undergo security screenings before their arrival in the affected European countries, preventing those who pose a security threat from entering. That’s expected to reduce the likelihood of security incidents, according to ETIAS.com.
ETIAS covers travelers from 59 countries, including the U.S. and Canada, who plan to stay in a participating country for 90 days or less. Once your security check is completed and you’ve been approved, your authorization is good for up to three years. While most people will have to pay the fee, ETIAS is free to anyone under the age of 18 or over 70.
What’s the Purpose of an ETIAS Travel Authorization?
The new requirements are being established to help “identify security, irregular migration or high epidemic risks posed by visa-exempt visitors,” according to the European Commission website.
Which Countries Require ETIAS Authorizations?
There are 30 mostly European countries that will require travel authorizations once ETIAS is launched. You’ll have to show your passport, ETIAS documentation and any other entry requirements to border officers when entering these countries.
ETIAS Basics for U.S. Citizens
The ETIAS authorization is only good for short-term stays of 90 days or less; it is not a work visa. The ETIAS information is linked to your passport, so if you have to replace your passport for any reason, you’ll also need a new ETIAS travel authorization. Your travel insurance company should be able to assist with a lost passport.
People Who Need ETIAS Authorizations
You will need an ETIAS authorization if any of the following apply to you:
- You’re not a European Union national.
- You’re a citizen of any country, including the U.S., whose nationals don’t currently need a visa for a short-term stay in a European Union country.
- You don’t have a residence permit or card issued by any of the European countries that require ETIAS.
Some travelers may be exempted from the requirement for an ETIAS travel authorization, so check before you apply.
How To Apply for ETIAS
U.S. citizens traveling to Europe will be able to apply on the ETIAS website when its application section becomes operational. To keep an eye on that, you can sign up for email updates on the website.
Cost of an ETIAS Travel Authorization
As of January 2024, the expected ETIAS application fee is €7, roughly $7.50. It’s free for anyone under the age of 18 or over the age of 70.
How Long Is ETIAS Good For?
The ETIAS authorization is valid for three years. You can travel in a participating country for 90 days within any 180-day period. Whenever you travel to participating countries, your ETIAS authorization must be valid for the duration of the stay.
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