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The days of jetting off to Paris with just a passport are numbered. Starting in 2024, 1.4 billion people—including Americans—will need a special travel authorization to enter the Schengen area of Europe. The restriction is part of an international effort to increase security.
The new rules are being rolled out by the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). The program was approved in 2016 and was supposed to start in 2022, but was delayed by a series of roadblocks, including not only the pandemic but also insufficient infrastructure to support the program. It will now launch sometime in 2024, though the exact date has not yet been confirmed.
Once ETIAS kicks off, travelers coming from once visa-exempt countries—including American and British tourists—will be required to apply for the travel authorization and pay a small fee. It applies to people who plan to stay in participating countries for fewer than 90 days.
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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 kicks off. You will have to show your passport, ETIAS documentation and any other entry requirements to border officers when entering these countries.
ETIAS Basics for American 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
Cost of an ETIAS Travel Authorization
As of July 2023, the ETIAS application fee is €7. It’s free for anyone under the age of 18 or over the age of 70.
How Long ETIAS Is Good For
The ETIAS authorization is good for three years. You can only 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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