Travel throughout parts of Europe for American citizens just became slightly more difficult. Starting in 2021, the European Union (E.U.) will require U.S. citizens to register to visit upwards of 26 European countries.
Last July, the E.U. established the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), which would require “pre-travel screening for security and migration risks of travelers benefiting from visa-free access to the Schengen area.” Upon arrival at E.U. borders, travelers will need to provide both a valid travel document and ETIAS authorization.
The authorization is distinct from a visa, the E.U. adds. The New York Times reports that “Americans will not be required to visit a consulate to file any kind of application, fingerprinting is not required, and less information will be asked than is expected of visa applicants.”
According to CNN, the Schengen Area is a zone of 26 European countries that do not have internal borders and allow people to move between them freely. The full list of countries includes: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Currently, U.S. residents may travel for up to 90 days throughout Europe without any sort of travel authorization. Even visa-free travelers will need to register for ETIAS authorization, CNN reports.
There is a service fee of 7 euros (approximately $7.87) to register and the authorization is valid for three years—or until your passport expires, if that is less than three years. If your passport does expire prior to your ETIAS authorization, you will need to reapply for approval with the new passport. Within the three-year period, however, travelers will be able to visit Europe any number of times.
In addition to the U.S., roughly 60 countries will be required to apply for ETIAS authorization, including Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Israel.