Gone are the days when a passport was enough to grant you entry into another country. Now, largely due to COVID, travel — and, more specifically, international travel — comes with an entire corresponding paper trail in the form of PCR tests and all other manner of health authorizations. And, just as many countries are scrapping their pre-arrival testing requirements, another requirement is set to take hold for Europe-bound Americans in 2023.
According to a new report from Forbes, a little more than a year from now (May 2023), American citizens and travelers from 58 other countries will need an 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 what exactly is ETIAS? The simplest explanation, per its website, is that it is a screening tool that aims to improve the security of EU member states within the Schengen region by capturing data on travelers that currently visit the area without a visa. Further, it will help to “identify security, irregular migration or high epidemic risks posed by visa-exempt visitors.”
“The objective is to identify individuals who pose security threats before they are able to travel to the Schengen area,” it reads. Thus, when it launches, U.S. citizens will be required to complete the application prior to boarding an aircraft, sea carrier or coach vehicle for Europe — travelers who are just passing through en route to other destinations included.
The good news is this: the ETIAS application to normally be processed and approved within minutes, it’s valid for up to three years from date of issue, it can be used for multiple entries so long as they’re all for less than 90 days, and no biometric data is collected. Rather, applicants will need to answer “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’s an application fee (it’s only €7) and, moreover, it’s one more thing to worry about ahead of a trip to Europe, which, for many, is already a stressful ordeal. That said, as Suzanne Rowan Kelleher points out, the U.S. has been running a near identical visa-waiver program since 2008 — one that requires travelers from 40 countries in Europe and elsewhere to apply online for a visa waiver and pay $14 for short stays. So, all things considered … this seems fair.
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