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Americans Traveling to Europe – Schengen Visa Requirements for US Citizens

Do US citizens need a visa for Europe?

Citizens of the United States with a valid U.S. Tourist passport (blue passport) can travel within the Schengen Area for a maximum of 90 days without having to apply or obtain a Schengen visa for short-term tourism or a business trip.

Note: (Starting January 1, 2020, US citizens will have to apply for an ETIAS visa prior to their travel towards Europe, in order to be allowed to enter the territory.)

What documents Americans need to enter the Schengen area?

  • A U.S. Passport (with applicable visas, if needed), valid for at least three months beyond your intended date of departure from the Schengen area.
  • A justifiable reason for your travel.
  • Proof of sufficient financial resources to support yourself during your stay.
  • Compliance with any other entry requirements for each country you will visit or transit.

Which countries can I visit in the Schengen Area without a visa?

US citizens can travel without a Schengen visa in the countries listed below:

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  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Liechtenstein

Non American citizens applying for a Schengen visa, while in US

All non US citizens who do need a visa to enter the Schengen Area, must have a U.S. visa or a Permanent Residence Card with three (3) months validity after returning from the Schengen area. If your US visa has expired, please have it renewed before applying.

Depending on your purpose and/or length of visit – there are specifications that further clarify at which Embassy or Consulate you should apply.

  • If visiting one Schengen country – you must apply at the Embassy or Consulate representing the particular country of your destination.
  • If visiting more than one Schengen country – you must apply at the Embassy or Consulate representing the country of your main destination (the country of longest stay).
  • If visiting more than one Schengen country with equal stay duration – you must apply at the Embassy or Consulate representing the Schengen country you will enter first.
  • If you intend to stay in the Schengen area for over 90 days you must apply for a residence permit, not a Schengen visa. Instructions are on the respective embassy/consulate’s homepage.

The visa-processing period depends on your citizenship. Nevertheless, it is recommended that applicants send their application forms three to seven weeks prior to intended departure/flight.

Please, note that if you are not a resident in the United States you should apply at the appropriate Embassy in your country of residence.

Visa Application Documents and Requirements for U.S. Citizenship and U.S. Passport holders

*Caution: When applying for a Schengen visa during summer or winter seasons, be cautious and/or plan your visit earlier, as these are the months when the highest numbers of applications arrive in Embassies – consequently, taking longer to complete the visa processing!

Americans to apply for EU Travel Authorization starting 2020

US citizens will have to apply for an ETIAS prior to their travel towards Europe, in order to be allowed to enter the territory, starting January 1, 2020.

The ETIAS visa waiver is a European Travel Information and Authorisation System which will require Australian travelers to apply online for a visa for Europe before entering the area, similar to the ESTA that the United States use. This process allows European authorities to pre-screen all travelers and confirm their status before permitting them entry or even to board a flight thus improving security measures throughout Europe.

All nationals of the countries that benefit from visa-free regime with the EU, aside of the Schengen Area Member States, will be subject to the European Travel Information and Authorization System.

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