Say arrivederci, au revoir, and auf wiedersehen to fee-free travel to the European Union (EU). The EU has announced it will launch its electronic travel permit system, the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), in 2024. The system had previously been scheduled to start in May 2023, but has now been delayed to begin sometime in 2024.
ETIAS is not a visa, but rather a visa waiver, and it will be mandatory for all visitors coming to the EU from countries that do not require a visa (including the United States.) The new regulations will apply to nationals of more than 50 countries outside of Europe’s Schengen Area.
Travelers will have to apply online for ETIAS and need a valid passport, email address, and a debit or credit card to pay the €7 application fee.
The application will ask for basic biographic information such as name, date of birth, and passport details, along with a series of health and security questions.
According to the ETIAS site, the application might include questions on:
- Drug use
- Human trafficking
- Travel to conflict areas
- Criminal history
- Employment history
- Past European travel information
- Security information
Applications will be checked against a series of security databases such as INTERPOL, and are intended to improve border security.
Additional documentation could be required to complete the ETIAS application and must be provided by the applicant within 96 hours. Once received, it could take up to four weeks to be approved or denied—so it will be important to apply for the permit well in advance of your trip.
However, a lengthy processing time is not anticipated to be the norm—according to ETIAS, “Most applications will be processed within minutes.” Once the application is approved, travelers will receive a confirmation message and travel authorization via email. If visitors fail to complete the ETIAS ahead of their trip, they could be denied entry to the EU.
The ETIAS visa waiver will be valid for unlimited entries over three years and can only be used for stays of a maximum of 90 days.
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