Is ETIAS Mandatory for US Citizens?

By dev_ln on Wed, 09/30/2020 - 08:08


A quick overview of ETIAS and the change in European travel requirements

September 2020 – The way American travel to Europe is changing—and soon. You won’t be able to travel to Europe with just a passport (and your toothbrush) once the ETIAS system become effective. The European Travel Authorization System (ETIAS) is an authorization system that will approve entry into the Schengen area, a 26-country region of Europe, and will soon be required for all American travelers and those from 60 other ETIAS eligible countries. Here we will share more about ETIAS and the changing face of European travel.

Is ETIAS mandatory for Americans

The ETIAS visa waiver for Americans  is a travel waiver as part of the European Travel Authorization System and will be required of American travelers for short-term travel―with a 90-day limit during any 180 day period―for any Schengen area European travel beginning in latter 2022 or early 2023. Once this system is fully in place, U.S. citizens will still need a passport along with approval of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Or, for travel that’s length or purpose requires such; a Schengen visa may be required to travel to and through the two dozen countries in the Schengen zone

Once approved under the visa waiver program (VWP), travelers will be able to easily travel across borders in the Schengen area without the need for additional paperwork. They will be able to travel in the region for up to 90 days at a time with the travel authorization which is valid for three years. 

When do I have to apply for ETIAS?

That depends on when you are traveling. As of right now, ETIAS is scheduled to go into effect in late 2022 or early 2023. Eligible travelers will not need to complete an ETIAS application until that point.

The Schengen area ETIAS VWP will be available to all eligible short-term travelers. If you are planning long-term travel (more than 90 days), or to study abroad, or long-term work, you will still need to go through the visa process, regardless of when ETIAS is implemented.

Can I travel to all of Europe with the visa waiver?

Visit Bruges with the ETIAS visa waiver

 ETIAS for Americans allows you entry and “borderless” travel within the Schengen area countries, presently 26 in total. These countries include most European Union (EU) members and several other partner countries, such as Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein as well as the microstates Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City.

Why are travel requirements changing?

The European Union is furthering a multitude of plans for systems designed to secure continental borders and identify potential security risks that may come from short-term travelers. According to the European Commission, “ETIAS will be a largely automated IT system created to identify security, irregular migration or high epidemic risks posed by visa-exempt visitors travelling to the Schengen States, whilst at the same time facilitate crossing borders for the vast majority of travellers who do not pose such risks.”

Essentially, ETIAS is designed to address illegal migration, to render European borders safer and to make travel easier for citizens and travelers.

When does ETIAS go into effect?

Currently, ETIAS implementation is anticipated in latter 2022 or early 2023.

Which do I need—a visa or a visa waiver?

The visa application can be complicated, expensive, and it requires a visit(s) to a consulate or embassy. But it is not required in many situations. Once the ETIAS goes into effect, it will replace the need for a visa for most leisure and business travelers for short-term travel of less than 90 days. The ETIAS application and background check is expected to be processed the same day one submits their application, and the ETIAS authorization will be valid for three years.

The waiver application itself should be relatively simple, but any errors or inconsistencies in the application can result in a longer processing time or even denial. A traveler whose application is rejected will be required to obtain a traditional travel visa.

What do I need to apply for the ETIAS waiver?

Most travelers are eligible for the waiver instead of a visa, and will need the following information as part of the application process:

·        Personal biographic information

·        Up-to-date contact information

·        Valid U.S. passport

·        First country of arrival declaration

·        Occupational/educational information

Part of the application process is to confirm a traveler’s identity to confirm there are no security risks, so the application must be filled out carefully. The travel waiver will be valid for three years, or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. Your passport must be valid for at least three months after you plan to return to the US, and you must enter the Schengen area at the country listed on the application (for the first entry during the 3-year authorization period only). After that, you are free to travel without a visa and exit from any country you choose.

Plan for Europe by understanding your ETIAS eligibility today

The Schengen area is full of opportunities for exploration and adventure, and the ETIAS visa waiver will allow you to travel visa-free travel to all 26 countries beginning in late 2022 or early 2023. Sign up for the ETIAS newsletter for travel and application updates. Bon Voyage!

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