Many major news outlets recently reported that in 2021 Americans will need a visa to visit the 26 European countries that make up the Schengen Area countries which include Spain, France, and Germany.
That report is false. However, that US citizens will have to register with the European Travel Information and Authorization System, or ETIAS, set up for travelers is true.
It will require the currently 60 nationalities ( including the USA that are visa waiver eligible to apply ahead of their journey in order to be able to board their flights or enter the Schengen area countries. The 60 eligible countries that will be required to submit an online ETIAS application can currently travel to Europe without a visa. The ETIAS for Europe is a system that will pre-screen travelers before they even board a plane. All information provided on the ETIAS application will be closely examined and check against security databases.
The online screening system meant to prevent potentially dangerous individuals from entering Europe. In a statement, a spokesperson for the European Commission said the EU expects that in 95% of cases the application will result in a positive result, and the traveler will obtain immediate permission to travel to Europe for three years, or until their passport expires if that happens before three years.
To register with the ETIAS system you will need a valid passport. What’s important is that the ETIAS requirements will involve having an eligible passport valid for at least 6 months upon entry to the Schengen Area. Without this, the application will be rejected (and probably invalidated when the expiration date is near). Much like other visa waivers, the EU application form will require that all eligible applicants provide their personal details as noted below.
Applicants from the visa waiver countries will have to provide the following information when applying for an ETIAS visa:
- Full name
- Date and place of birth
- Current address
- Parents’ information
- Passport and other nationality details
Apart from basic personal information, applicants will also have to answer questions related to:
- Drug use
- Human trafficking
- Travel to conflict areas
- Criminal history
- Employment history
- Past European travel information
- Security information
Providing false or misleading information during the ETIAS application process may result in having the applicant’s entry into the Schengen Area denied. The registration will require neither a consulate visit nor the collection of biometric data.
The ETIAS is essentially the European version of the US’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which European citizens have had to fill out since 2008. However, the ESTA is only valid for two years, as opposed to the ETIAS’s three.
As of this writing, the ETIAS does have a nominal cost of 7 Euro or approximately $8.00, see the website for details.
If you plan on going to Europe in 2021, get a passport or make sure yours has at least six months left on it and then register online with ETIAS.