Starting in 2024, U.S. passport holders traveling to Europe will need to apply for authorization through the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) before their visit.
While U.S. nationals currently enjoy visa-free access to most E.U. countries, this convenience will change once the new law is in effect. Similar to the U.S. Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) process, ETIAS aims to enhance security and facilitate smoother entry for travelers.
Here’s what you need to know.
What Is ETIAS and How Does It Work?
ETIAS is an electronic travel authorization linked to a traveler’s passport. It grants short-term entry to European countries for up to 90 days within any 180-day period. However, an ETIAS does not guarantee automatic entry. Upon arrival, a border guard will verify if you meet the entry conditions.
How Much Does It Cost and How to Apply?
To apply for an ETIAS, you can fill out the application form on the official ETIAS website or use the mobile application. The cost of applying is $7.79 , but some travelers may be exempt from paying this fee. Make sure you read about the application requirements and payment exemptions before proceeding.
Processing Your Application
Most ETIAS applications are processed within minutes. However, in some cases, the application might take longer. If that happens, you will receive a decision within four days. In exceptional circumstances, this period may be extended up to 14 days if additional information or documentation is required, or up to 30 days if an interview is necessary. To avoid any last-minute complications, it’s wise to apply well in advance of your planned journey.
Confirmation and Validity Period
Once you’ve submitted your application, you’ll receive an email confirmation with a unique ETIAS application number. Keep this number for future reference. After processing, you’ll receive another email informing you of the outcome. Ensure all the information, such as your name and passport number, is correct on the ETIAS, as any mistakes could prevent you from crossing the border.
ETIAS travel authorization is valid for up to three years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. Remember, you must have a valid ETIAS during your entire stay, and leaving and re-entering is permitted as long as you respect the 90-day stay limit within 180 days.
Arriving at the Border
Your ETIAS is electronically linked to your travel document, so it’s crucial to use the same document you used in your ETIAS application when traveling. Failure to do so might prevent you from boarding your flight, bus, or ship or entering any of the European countries that require ETIAS. Keep in mind that having an ETIAS doesn’t guarantee an automatic right of entry. Border guards will verify that you meet the entry conditions, and those who do not meet the requirements will be refused entry.
For more info, check out the ETIAS website.