ETIAS is coming and it’s going to change the way that you travel to Europe – making it more like what Europeans have to go through to come here.
The U.S. doesn’t require most Europeans to get a visa to come here. They do, however, have to register online in advance and get an approved “ESTA.” Which is like an electronic visa! It’s just that the process we put people through to get something we actually call a visa is much, much worse.
Europe is responding in kind and creating their own online registration system that residents of much of the world will have to use before being allowed to enter. It’s called ETIAS, for the European Travel Information and Authorization System.
- Everyone who is entitled to visa-free travel will have to get this visa-lite
- You’ll apply and receive approval online
- It will be valid for 3 years of unlimited business and leisure visits (not to exceed 90 days in any 180-day rolling period)
- It was supposed to start in May 2023 but has been put off until November 2023. There will be a six month period after that where it’ll still be possible to enter Europe without one (and possibly some time after that as well).
This applies to all Schengen Area countries, so EU nations like Germany, France, Greece, and Italy as well as non-E.U. nations like Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland. (Non-Schengen Europe, like Ireland and the U.K., won’t require this.) You’ll be able to start getting an ETIAS for visits to Europe before the end of 2023, and probably should.
ETIAS allows Europe to reject people before they get on the airplane, although they largely already have this ability since governments of receiving flights receive advance manifests and can tell airlines not to board passengers now.
When applications open you’ll be asked to pay 7 Euros and provide identify and residence information along with education, employment, and family details as well as information on past travel to specific flagged countries and criminal history. (The ETIAS will be free for those under 18 and over 70.) Usually an ETIAS decision should be made in minutes, although it can take up to 96 hours if you appear to match someone on the naughty list in one of the myriad government databases that collect both suspected terrorists, criminals or political enemies (no level of proof required, and full of mistakes) and that triggers a requirement for manual review.
The U.S. ESTA program has had zero security benefit from that’s not stopping Europe from adopting a new layer of immigration bureaucracy to mirror the U.S. one.