The EU Commission announced that American travellers will need a new type of “travel authorisation” – a European Travel Information and Authorization System or ETIAS – to visit the European Schengen Area beginning in 2021. Currently, US citizens can travel in Europe for up to 90 days with a valid passport without any visa requirements.
The new travel document will be valid for three years allowing for multiple entries into the Schengen Area. With ETIAS, travellers will need a passport, complete an online application and pay a fee of US$7. In most cases, approval should take only a few minutes.
News reports first called the process a “visa”, but authorities have been quick to clarify the semantics. Officials state that ETIAS is simply a “travel authorisation” for visa-free visitors, similar to the US system (Electronic System for Travel Authorization – ESTA) to screen people in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).