Americans traveling to the Schengen Zone after January 1st, 2021 will need to register for the European Travel Information and Authorization System, or simply ETIAS. US citizens will still not have to actually get visas to travel within the EU or Schengen Zone, but they will still have to register with ETIAS, which is like a system that will be implemented to help people apply for visas.
ETIAS is part of an effort from the EU and Schengen Zone to increase security at external borders, combat international crime, and increase the convenience for international travelers seeking to come to Europe. It will be launched on January 1st, 2021.
To register for ETIAS, Americans will need a valid passport (not expiring for at least three months beyond the time of visit and less than 10 years old), a debit or credit card, and an email account. Visa-free travelers like Americans will need to pay a 7-euro fee, about $8.
At the moment until ETIAS becomes active, Americans do not need to do anything but show up at customs with their US passport to enter any EU or Schengen country. After ETIAS is launched, it will be almost as easy, as registration and approval for the program is designed to take only about 10 minutes.
“Completing the online application should not take more than 10 minutes with automatic approval being given in over 95% of cases,” a representative from the European Commission said in a statement.
As it is, Americans can enjoy up to a 90-day stay in the EU or Schengen Zone within a 180-day period and travel between countries visa-free. After the new program is launched, the same privileges will apply after registering for ETIAS.
It is important to note for Americans that the ETIAS program will only apply when traveling to Schengen countries, as one of the main purposes of the program is to better secure external Schengen borders. Not all EU members are Schengen countries, and not all Schengen countries are members of the EU.
Any American wishing to visit the United Kingdom, Ireland, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, or Romania will still need to follow the process for those countries, as they are not Schengen members.
In addition to the ability to travel visa-free throughout the Schengen Zone, Americans registering for ETIAS that are approved will be able to visit some of Europe’s micronations like Vatican City, Monaco, and San Marino.