Beginning on January 1, 2021, travelers from 60 visa waiver countries around the globe -- including the United States, Canada, Mexico and Australia -- will need to be granted authorization before visiting most of Europe.
Those traveling to any of the 26 Schengen Zone countries (and three micro-states) throughout Europe will need to register with the European Travel Information and Authorization System before embarking on a trip. By requiring visitor authorization, the EU says it will be better able to vet possible threats, thus strengthening and protecting its borders.
The new authorization applies to those wishing to enter Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Vatican City.
Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus are currently in the process of joining the Schengen Zone and will also be subject to ETIAS requirements once approved.
Travelers will be able to register for ETIAS authorization through an online system, provided they have a valid passport, an email address and a form of payment for a €7 (US$7.75) application fee (the fee will be waived for travelers under the age of 18). Aside from entering identification information, applicants will also have to answer questions related to the following categories.
- Drug use
- Human trafficking
- Travel to conflict areas
- Criminal history
- Employment history
- Past European travel information
- Security information
A successfully completed application should take only minutes to be approved, with a notice being sent to an applicant's email address after it is checked across security databases like those of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) and the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol).
An approved ETIAS will be valid for three consecutive years (or until the traveler's passport expires), and suitable for short-term stays of up to 90 days for both leisure and business travelers. Those looking to study or work in Europe long-term will need to apply for a proper visa. Fore more information, visit the ETIAS website.