No, you do not need a visa to travel to Europe. However, according to the latest news, maybe in 2025, Americans traveling from the US to several European Union countries will need to provide travel information in addition to a valid passport. This documentation falls under the European Travel and Information Authorization System (ETIAS) and is not a visa but allows the traveler to remain in the EU countries for up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
Here we break down the ETIAS and give you the specifics on how to apply. There’s understandably been plenty of confusion regarding the new authorization document and our aim is to clear that up for you.
Background In a Nutshell
The ETIAS was finalized and gained approval in November of 2016. The intention was to improve the security by requiring visa-free travelers to undergo a bit of scrutiny prior to their arrival in Europe, and specifically the Schengen Zone.
The EU’s Schengen Zone comprises one of the most popular areas for travelers from the US. Currently countries and destinations within the zone exempt travelers from 60 different countries, including the US, from needing a visa for a stay of 90 days within a 180 day period. In the interest of greater security concerns the Zone will now require those travelers meet the ETIAS guidelines and receive authorization.
Highlights of ETIAS
Travelers are limited to a three month stay during a six month period. This must be a stay for tourism, business or transit purposes. Travelers with a valid passport and ETIAS are not permitted to study or work in these countries with only a passport and ETIAS. For that a work visa or residence permit are still required. Here are the highlights you need to know:
- The ETIAS currently has a target launch date of 2025. The specific date has not yet been announced. It was postponed few times.
- Application needs be made prior to travel. Once the application process is made available, you can apply online and each traveler regardless of age must have ETIAS approval to visit these EU member countries. Finalize travel plans after you receive approval and confirmation.
- Those who are eligible: Citizens of countries that currently have visa-free access to the EU will be required to obtain ETIAS. Those with dual citizenship who have a valid EU passport for an ETIAS country are not required to have ETIAS authorization as long as they use their valid EU passport for entry and exit. Those with prior criminal records are eligible to apply for ETIAS.
- Required data includes name, date of birth, gender, etc., your passport information or other travel document information, EU state of entry, criminal background information and immigration information.
- Cost is expected to be around 8.00 US. Those under the age of 18 or over the age of 70 are not expected to pay.
- The ETIAS process includes cross reference of your personal data with various international agencies including criminal watchlists. If your information matches any of the databases your application will undergo a manual process at one of the ETIAS National Units.
- Application Decisions are typically made within minutes of receipt in 95% of cases.
- Approval means your ETIAS will be issued and valid for three years or until your passport expires, whichever comes sooner
- When you board your aircraft, sea carrier or international coach your ETIAS status will be checked.
- When you arrive at your destination your ETIAS status will be checked.
We Will Keep You Updated on The EU ETIAS
Please know we will continue to keep you aware of any changes regarding the ETIAS and travel to specific EU destinations. As always we value our clients and aim to create an itinerary that’s as enjoyable, memorable, easy and seamless as possible.