A few years back, Europe announced that the days of simply hopping on a plane, free of red tape, to eat pizza in Naples or swim in the turquoise waters of Santorini will be coming to an end. The launch of a new registration program called the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) would soon require US citizens to apply for an authorization before traveling to countries in the European Union.
The program, which was originally scheduled to go into effect in January 2021, was to promote tourism while maintaining a high level of security and protection against terrorism. It is now being delayed until the end of 2022 with an additional grace period of six months.
This comes as a result of a slow down of the adoption of the ETIAS regulation, as well as the integration of the Entry/Exit System, which tracks the movement of foreign visitors across borders throughout the EU.
How ETIAS works
The mandatory multiple-entry authorization will be valid for up to three years or until your passport expires (whichever comes first), and applies to all 26 countries of the Schengen Area.
To apply for a travel authorization through ETIAS, US citizens will need a valid passport, a credit or debit card, and an e-mail address. Applicants will need to provide that information and answer a few basic security and health-related questions, but no biometrical data will be collected. There will be a fee of seven euros (around $8), which will be waived for individuals under 18. The process is expected to take approximately 10 minutes and applicants should receive a positive result within a few hours.
The additional six-month grace period serves as a transition, meaning that US travelers to Europe don’t need to worry about obtaining an ETIAS authorization until halfway through 2023.
Not all EU member countries will require an authorization
The ETIAS authorization will be necessary to enter the following countries: Austria, Belgium, 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, along with San Marino, Vatican City, and Monaco.
While Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania are a part of the EU, they are still waiting to join the Schengen Area, meaning that US travelers do not yet need to obtain an ETIAS authorization to enter them.