There’s been a lot in the news about a new visa requirement for Americans traveling to E.U. (European Union) countries in 2024. What’s that all about? Is the E.U. singling out U.S. citizens? And why do we need a visa to visit now? And is this new requirement even a visa at all? The new red tape is due to a new security entity called ETIAS (The European Travel Information and Authorisation System).

What is ETIAS?

The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is a planned electronic security system designed to improve the security of EU member states within the Schengen region by capturing data on travelers that currently visit the area without a visa.

In recent years, there has been a sharp uptick in visitors to E.U. countries, and to date, does not require Canadians and U.S. citizens to obtain a visa before visiting. The E.U. expects this new requirement to affect as many of 1.4 million visitors.  It is thought that the visa waiver requirement will:

  • Reduce border wait-times for travelers and streamline entry into EU member states
  • Improve border efficiency for security screening of travelers upon arrival and departure
  • Enable border authorities to better police migrants and immigration irregularities
  • Help EU member states strengthen their border security processes and procedures against crime and terrorism
  • Provide an additional revenue stream for the E.U.

Which countries require the ETIAS waiver?

There are 30 countries that will require you to have the visa waiver authorization. 

Austria Denmark Hungary Luxembourg Romania
Belgium Estonia Iceland Malta Slovakia
Bulgaria Finland Italy Netherlands Slovenia
Croatia France Latvia Norway Spain
Cyprus Germany Lichtenstein Poland Sweden
Czech Republic Greece Lithuania Portugal Switzerland

Is the ETIAS requirement to visit E.U. countries  a visa?

Not exactly. The ETIAS website itself calls the new requirement a visa waiver. 

Is it only the U.S. that has this new requirement?

It’s not just Americans – the EU says travelers from 60 visa-exempt countries will need to apply through the ETIAS Process. You can see the complete list here.

What will the ETIAS waiver provide the visitor?

The waiver will be linked to a traveler’s passport. It is valid for up to three years or until the passport expires, whichever comes first. If you get a new passport, you need to get a new ETIAS travel authorization.

With a valid ETIAS travel authorization, you can enter these European countries as often as you want for short-term stays (typically up to 90 days in any 180-day period). However, it does not guarantee entry. Border agents can question visitors and verify if that visitor meets the requirements for entry.

Can I apply for the ETIAS waiver now?

The portal is not yet operational. The E.U. plans to have the portal live in 2024, but has not yet clarified what the specific date will be. 

Once the portal is open, how can I apply for the waiver?

You’ll be able to visit a website on a desktop or mobile device. You’ll also be asked to share personal information such as your date of birth, parents’ names and details about your current occupation and previous criminal convictions. Finally, you will need to share a passport that is not set to expire in less than three months.

Is there a fee for the visa waiver?

Yes. The waiver will cost 7 Euro (about $7.70 U.S.) 

If you’re planning a visit to Europe, check out our Europe Summer Flights page, as well as the best airports in Europe for Americans.

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