Americans traveling to Europe will have to fill out some extra paperwork starting in early 2024. However, it’s not a visa, at least not quite. The European Union (EU) will be requiring travelers from the United States and other countries to register in advance starting in 2024. You will need a document called ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System), which you’ll be able to get online. Technically, ETIAS is not a visa, but it will work in a similar way.
What US Travelers to Europe Will Need
Until now, American citizens could simply board a plane for Europe as long as they had a valid passport. However, beginning in early 2024, the EU is getting more restrictive. You will need to apply for permission ahead of your trip.
The good news is that ETIAS will be faster and simpler than applying for a traditional visa. At least, that is the plan. Since the system isn’t running yet, we don’t know for sure how fast and seamless it will actually be. What is known is that you have to apply for ETIAS online before your trip. You can’t just decide to apply for it when you land in Paris, Prague, or wherever.
Most travelers should get quick approval via email. Once approved, you won’t have to apply again for three years. While the process will normally be almost immediate, you should apply early in case there are any issues and it takes longer. The exact reasons why some people may have delayed approval haven’t been disclosed. It’s likely that travelers with legal issues, whether a criminal record or citizenship/green card/visa issues, may experience complications.
Most European Destinations Are ETIAS Countries
ETIAS includes most popular tourist destinations in Europe such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, Czech Republic, and many others. You won’t need ETIAS to visit the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales) or Ireland. If you hold a European Union passport, you will not need ETIAS.
Where and When to Apply for ETIAS
You’ll be able to apply at the official ETIAS website. You should apply for ETIAS before you book flights, hotels, or make other travel arrangements.