Preparing for a Euro trip already requires a few steps, and soon travellers will tasked with yet another pre-vacation to-do. In addition to booking flights and Airbnbs and converting money, U.S. citizens will need an authorization from the European Union to visit the region.
Starting in January 2021, travellers will have to enter the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), a “pre-travel screening for security and migration risks of travellers benefiting from visa-free access to the Schengen area.”
The Schengen Area refers to the 26 European countries that do not have internal borders such as Spain, France, Greece, Germany, Italy, and Poland, according to CNN.
“The new ETIAS will ensure that we no longer have an information gap on visa-free travelers,” Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship, said in a statement, per CNN. “Anyone who poses a migratory or security risk will be identified before they even travel to E.U. borders.”
The policy is mainly a security measure. Cities such as Paris and Brussels have been the target of deadly terrorist attacks over the past few years.
Currently U.S. citizens can travel to Europe without an authorization for up to 90 days, but this new rule will require authorization for even short business or pleasure stays. Luckily, the process of getting an ETIAS authorization is much simpler and cheaper than getting a passport or visa.
“Completing the online application should not take more than 10 minutes with automatic approval being given in over 95% of cases,” the European Commission said in a statement.
The service fee associated with the application is about seven euros, or about $8, and the authorization is valid for unlimited travel for three years.
Citizens from 60 other countries including Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, and more will require ETIAS authorization for travel as well.
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