Authorization Needed for European Travel as of 2021
Note: This blog post was updated on March 3, 2020, after being originally posted on March 19, 2019.
Beginning 2021, Americans and other non-Europeans will need to be authorized by the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) in order to travel to any of the 26 countries in the Schengen Area. France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and other European states are in the Schengen Area, but nations like the United Kingdom and Ireland are not and, therefore, do not need ETIAS authorization.
ETIAS authorization, which must not be confused with a visa program, is valid for three years or less if the holder’s passport expires during those three years. ETIAS authorization requires a roughly 20-minute-long online application. Furthermore, the online application needs a passport or alternative document as well as a credit or debit card for electronic payment. ETIAS projects to accept more than 95 percent of applications within a couple of minutes.
The goals of ETIAS authorization are to “save travelers time & hassle,” “improve border management,” “complement the EU’s visa liberalisation policy,” “prevent irregular migration,” and “reinforce the fight against crime & terrorism,” according to a fact sheet on ETIAS. Similarly, the United States has an authorization that is required of non-American travelers, which is named the Electronic System for Travel Authorization.
Americans do not an authorization for a trip to Europe until 2021. In 2017, the European Commission considered requiring a visa for traveling Americans but agreed not to do so.