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10 Mar 2019

Americans won’t need a visa to Europe, but rather an ETIAS – which is not a visa

European Travel Information and Authorisation SystemAll Unites States nationals, alongside with the passport holders of several other world countries will need an ETIAS to enter the EU countries as of January 2021. ETIAS, which stands for the European Travel Information and Authorization System, is not a visa.

However, US nationals have lately been misguided by several media, which claim that “Americans will need visas to EU as of 2021”. The statement is completely untrue, and the EU mission in the US has reacted to such claims.

The delegation of the European Union to the United States of America responded to a tweet of a well-known American medium claiming that Americans will soon need a visa to travel to Europe, pointing out that ETIAS is in fact the equivalent of the US ESTA, none of which is a visa.

“Neither the #ESTA nor the future #ETIAS (EU equivalent) are visas. They carry out pre-travel screening for travellers benefiting from visa-free access,” the tweet says, linking a press release by the EU Commission on the decision of ETIAS establishment.

The European Parliament representatives and the European Council Presidency reached an agreement on the proposal for the establishment of the European Travel Information and Authorization System on April 25, 2018.

The ETIAS is a visa waiver pre-screening program for all travelers under the EU visa-free program, that want to enter any of the EU countries. Its main purpose is the protection and strengthening of the EU external borders.

It is very similar to the US Electronic System for Travel Authorization, which all EU nationals (aside of Polish citizens who need a visa) need to obtain in order to travel to the US. While there are only 38 countries under the American ESTA, currently 62 nations are part of the Schengen visa-free entry program.

The process to obtain an ETIAS is simple and quick, by only completing an online form. A fee of only €7 is required. It will be valid for three years at first, and the traveler will be able to enter the country with the same authorization as many times as they want within this period (without violating the permitted stay rules). ETIAS is expected to be fully operational by 2021.

For more detailed information about ETIAS, please read:

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