(From ASTA 3.11.2019)
As you may have heard in the news, beginning Jan. 1, 2021, American travelers visiting European countries in the Schengen Area will have to register through a system called the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). We wanted to clear up what may be some confusion on the issue by stating what we know about the program. This electronic traveler registration is not a visa as has erroneously been reported. According to the European Commission, there is “no need to go to a consulate to make an application, no biometric data is collected and significantly less information is gathered than during a visa application procedure.” The Commission had considered instituting a visa requirement for Americans, but ultimately decided against it in 2017. Instead, it has chosen to implement this traveler pre-screening program, similar to the ESTA Program currently in place for inbound travel to the United States. The Commission states that the main goal of ETIAS visa waivers for Europe is to “identify possible threats or risks associated with visitors traveling to any of the Schengen Area countries”. Travelers will need to complete an online application via a dedicated website or mobile device and pay a €7 EUR (approximately $8 USD) fee. The application should take no more than 10 minutes to complete and will only require passport or other travel document information. The Commission estimates that 95% of applicants will receive a positive answer within a few minutes. Once approved, ETIAS visa waivers are valid for a three-year period.
It is important to note that while several websites such as Etiasvisa.com and Schengenvisainfo.com have been quoted as information sources by numerous news outlets, these are not affiliated with the European Commission. For more information and frequently asked questions, we recommend the following resources as they are the official sources of information directly from the European Commission:
European Commission – A European Travel Information and Authorization System – Questions & Answers: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-18-4362_en.htm
European Commission – European Travel Information and Authorization System – Fact Sheet: https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/what-we-do/policies/european-agenda-security/fact-sheets/docs/20161116/factsheet_-_etias_en.pdf
European Union – List of countries in the Schengen area:https://europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/countries_en
We understand the need for heightened security and we look forward to a smooth and simple process that doesn’t disrupt travel. ASTA will continue to monitor the development of the ETIAS program and work to ensure our travel advisors have the detail and information needed to guide travelers and educate them on this new process and system.