With countries like Spain, France, Germany and Italy, Europe is undoubtedly the most frequently visited country of the world. Europe welcomed more than 40 million foreign visitors in 2019. Besides offering few of the best museums, cuisines and architecture of the world, Europe has always been one of the most popular destinations for travellers from the US, who usually don’t require owning a tourist visa for visiting majority of the countries.
In 2016, the European Union (EU) was planning to introduce the new rule where US and Canadian travellers would require visas for entering Europe. However, as the lawmakers dropped the execution of the plan till further notice, the Americans literally breathed a sigh of relief. Nevertheless, this piece of good news wasn’t for the long term.
Since the 1st of January, 2021, all US citizens traveling to the Schengen-zone countries of Europe will require registering through the ETIAS or the European Travel Information and Authorization System, irrespective of the duration for which you’re visiting the country.
What is ETIAS? Is this a VISA? Well, according to the European Union, this is not a VISA. Instead, as per their opinion, the citizens of visa liberalisation countries will keep traveling the EU without a visa but they just have to focus on the ETIAS requirements for US citizens. They should get an authorisation for traveling, through ETIAS, before initiating their trip. No, if you thought you have to visit the consulate for all this, you’re wrong. Neither will the ETIAS travel authorization impose any of the VISA-like obligations nor will it require any collection of biometric data. There’s much less information required than what is needed during the procedure of visa application.
How can I get the travel authorisation? Hey there, before you go off to cancel your 2021 trip to any of the Schengen countries, bear in mind that ETIAS authorisation isn’t a difficult task. All you need are a passport that is valid for three months after your intended stay in the destination country, a debit/credit card and an email account. For the VISA application, travellers should fill out the ETIAS registration form and enter their full name, place of birth, present address and various other nationality and passport details. They also have to write answers to questions on terrorism, drug abuse, human trafficking, employment history, criminal history and past travel record to Europe. As per officials, you’ll just take ten minutes to complete this questionnaire.
Are there any chances of getting denied? The officials of European Union assure us that a minimum of 95% of the applicants get approved within few minutes. However, if you’re the unlucky one and your application gets denied for some valid reason, you’ll be given 96 hours to offer new documents as requested by the officials. You also enjoy the right to an appeal.
Do I need multiple approvals if I plan to visit multiple countries? No. Just one approval will cover all the countries that you visit in the Schengen zone.
Is the US only being chosen for the ETIAS? No. As per an EU official, ETIAS is very soon going to be a travel documentation for each and every traveler who visits Schengen member states without a visa. Presently, the list comprise of 60 countries and US is one among them. This system has started being imposed on the respective countries from early 2021.
What is the reason behind all these new rules? Just as other regions of the world, Europe has very recently thought of sprucing up its security level to avert any future issues with terrorism and illegal migration. It is also worth mentioning here that the whole US ESTA system also demands pretty much the same details from travellers of Europe who are heading towards North America. The ETIAS system will stay put for many years now.
How long is the ETIAS system valid for? As the application is confirmed and processed, the license to enter Europe will stay valid for 3 consecutive years. This means you may exit and enter as many times you wish without having to reapply. However, you won’t be allowed to stay longer than 90 days at a stretch.
What are the rules of traveling to Europe in 2021? Before we stepped into 2021, Americans could travel to Europe for less than 90 days without having to own a visa and they didn’t even have to fill out any ETIAS application forms. However, things will be different in 2021 and now you’ll need an ETIAS visa to enter Europe. Therefore, if you’re planning to travel to Europe from the US, you should prep up for the ETIAS authorisation so that you don’t delay the process of obtaining your VISA which is the ultimate permit to enter Europe.
Susan Noel is an experienced content writer. She is associated with many renowned travel blogs as a guest author where she shares her valuable travel tips with the audience.