• MLWA 7

Want to go to Europe? That might be a bit more difficult starting in 2021.



Americans traveling to Europe will soon have to add a new item to their packing lists.

Starting in 2021, the European Union will require US visitors to get a pre-approved, visa-like travel pass issued by the European Travel Information and Authorization System.


The permit will cost about $7.90 and will have to be requested at least four days before the journey—making romantic last-minute jaunts to Paris impossible.


But permission will be good for three years and for multiple trips in and out of the Schengen Zone. The Schengen Area is a zone of 26 European countries that do not have internal borders and allow people to move between them freely, including countries such as Spain, France, Greece, Germany, Italy and Poland.


Under current rules, Americans can travel in Europe without a visa for up to 90 days. The new requirement will serve as a security check, EU officials said Friday.


Visa-free travelers, including US citizens, will need to request ETIAS authorization before visiting the Schengen Area. They can complete an application and pay a service fee of 7 euros (about $8) online. The authorization is valid for three years.


"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 United States has a similar system called the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA.


"We are aware of the European Union's plan to implement its own travel information and authorization system, similar to the U.S. ESTA, to contribute to a more efficient management of the EU's external borders and improve internal security," a US State Department official said in a statement. "Each country has the right to determine its standards for entry."
The official added that the "ETIAS authorization is not a visa."

The United States won't be the only country affected by the changes. From 2021, citizens from 60 countries will be required to apply for the ETIAS before entering the Schengen Area. Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Israel and Mauritius are among those countries.


The European Parliament agreed to establish ETIAS in July. At the time, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship, indicated that the requirement was put in place for security reasons.


"The new ETIAS will ensure that we no longer have an information gap on visa-free travelers," he said in a statement. "Anyone who poses a migratory or security risk will be identified before they even travel to EU borders."

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