U.S. Citizens Will Soon Need Visa to Travel to Europe
WASHINGTON - March 21, 2019
Starting in 2021, Americans will need to complete some extra procedures to visit Europe for tourism and business purposes.
For now, American passport holders enjoy the benefit of entering Europe with only a valid passport. However, they will soon need to apply online for a travel pass in order to enter Schengen countries.
“Similar to other countries and regions in the world, Europe has recently decided to improve its security level to avoid any further problems with illegal immigration and terrorism. This means that from 2021, all Americans traveling to a European country in the Schengen Zone will be in need of an ETIAS,” said an official statement.
This travel pass is called ETIAS and stands for the European Travel Information and Authorization System. It is a completely electronic scheme, established with the purpose of keeping track of travelers from the 60+ EU visa free countries. It is the equivalent of the American Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).
Many outlets are saying the document is not a visa, but that’s not true. It’s considered a friendlier version, but people are mistaken thinking it will simplify entry into Schengen countries, but remember that U.S. citizens need no extra documents at all as of now.
Moreover, the media refers to the EU Commission on the decision to establish the ETIAS for Americans, saying, “neither the #ESTA nor the future #ETIAS (EU equivalent) are visas. They carry out pre-travel screening for travelers benefiting from visa-free access.”
Any such permission to travel whether to the US or Europe is called a visa.
What Do Americans Need to Go to Europe?
The process to obtain an ETIAS is simple and quick, involving only the completion of an online form. To obtain this document, Americans will need to have a valid passport, a credit or debit card, and an email account.
“These are the main ETIAS requirements for U.S. citizens which each applicant must have on hand when applying. Without the right travel document, applicants could have their application denied,” says the official document.
A fee of only €7 is required. The Europe visa waiver will be valid for three years at first, and the traveler will be able to enter the country with the same authorization as many times as they want within this period (without violating the permitted stay rules). ETIAS is expected to be fully operational by 2021.
“This process allows European immigration and customs authorities to pre-screen all travelers and confirm their status before permitting them entry or even to board a flight, thus improving security measures throughout the Schengen Area.”
The document adds there will also be other regulations and restrictions to bear in mind when traveling to Europe from the U.S.A. which are similar to those in place at the moment, such as the right to carry weapons, importing and exporting large quantities of tobacco, alcohol or perfume, and declaring large amounts of currency.
“Nationals of visa liberalization countries will still be able to travel without a visa but will have to obtain a simple travel authorization prior to their travel to the Schengen Area. This will help identify persons who may pose an irregular migration or security risk before they arrive at the border and significantly enhance the security of the external borders,” the EU explains.