Gone are the times when just having a passport was enough to gain access into another nation. Foreign travel now comes with a full associated paper trail in the shape of PCR testing and all kind of health authorizations, primarily as a result of COVID. And now, just as several nations are removing pre-arrival testing requirements, another one is slated to take effect for Americans traveling to Europe in 2023.
A little more than a year from now (May 2023), American citizens and travelers from 58 other countries will need a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) visa waiver to visit a Schengen-zone country for any stay shorter than 90 days for “general tourism, business, transit or medical purposes.”
So, just what is ETIAS? According to its website, it is a screening tool that attempts to strengthen the security of EU member states inside the Schengen Area by collecting data on visitors who now visit the area without a visa. Furthermore, it will aid in “identifying security, irregular migration or high epidemic risks posed by visa-exempt visitors.”
“The goal is to identify persons who represent security dangers before they may travel to the Schengen region,” it says. As a result, when it goes live, U.S. citizens will be asked to fill out an application before boarding an airplane, sea carrier, or coach vehicle bound for Europe – even if they are merely passing through on their way to another location.
The good news is that the ETIAS application is often completed and granted within minutes, that it is valid for up to three years from the date of issue, that it may be used for numerous entries as long as they are all for less than 90 days, and that no biometric data is gathered. Rather, candidates will be required to respond to “a series of security questions in regards the traveler’s health, and whether they have been to conflict zones in the past,” per ETIAS.com.
The bad news is that there is an application cost (just €7), and it’s one more item to think about before a trip to Europe.