Although we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, it doesn’t hurt to do a little bit of daydreaming about all the trips we plan to take once it’s over. With so many impressive sights, delicious food, and opportunities for culture, traveling to Europe is definitely at the top of our bucket list. Is there anything more swoon-worthy than island hopping in Greece, enjoying a picnic under the Eiffel Tower, or rummaging through vintage secondhand boutiques in Sweden? Exactly.
However, before booking our tickets and packing our bags, there’s one very important change coming to the way that we travel to Europe, and it’s called the ETIAS. Rolling out in 2022, the ETIAS is a new type of visa waiver that visitors will need to apply for before they can enter Europe.
With that in mind, let’s learn more about the ETIAS program, who needs it, and, most importantly, how to apply.
Do Americans Need a Visa for the EU?
Currently, US citizens do not need a visa for short-term trips to Europe. If you’re planning your yearly family visit to Germany or a honeymoon to Italy, you do not need a visa as long as the trip is under 90 days. However, there are some circumstances in which you’ll need to apply for a visa, such as if you’re planning to study, move, or work abroad.
What is the ETIAS and What Does it do?
Although US citizens don’t need a visa to travel to Europe at the moment, a new change is taking place in late 2022. Once the new program is rolled out, US citizens will need to apply for an ETIAS authorization before they can enter Europe.
The ETIAS, which stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System, is a visa waiver that is electronically tied to your passport. It takes only a few minutes to apply for the ETIAS, which can be done on a smartphone, tablet, computer, or any device with internet access. Most people get their ETIAS within 72 hours after applying, and the ETIAS is valid for 3 years — which means plenty of time to hit up all the places on your bucket list!
Once you arrive at any airport in the Schengen zone, you’ll need to show your passport to the border agents in order to enter. Since the ETIAS is electronically tied to your passport, you don’t need to print out any additional paperwork. In fact, one of the biggest benefits of the ETIAS is shorter lines and wait times at passport control, thanks to a quicker and more streamlined process.
Which Countries Accept the ETIAS?
The ETIAS will give travelers authorization to visit the 26 members that are part of the Schengen Zone. The list of countries that travelers can enter using their ETIAS include:
● Czech Republic
● the Netherlands
In case you’re overwhelmed, we already came up with a few ideas to add to your bucket list. Why not try chasing the northern lights in Iceland? Or perhaps visit the gorgeous blue and white island of Mykonos? There’s also an annual beer festival held in the Czech Republic every year (mark your calendars for May), as well as in Germany (the famous Oktoberfest!), and even a yearly tomato fight called La Tomatina in Spain. If you really want to get off the beaten path, add smaller or undiscovered countries, like Estonia, Luxembourg, or Poland to your itinerary.
Best of all, once you have an ETIAS you can travel between those countries without needing to reapply for any travel documents. In fact, you can even plan a Europe tour and visit every country if you want to — just make sure that it’s within the 90 day validity period!
How to Apply for an ETIAS
After reading that list of countries (and daydreaming of all the places you want to visit!), you’re probably wondering where to apply for an ETIAS. Thankfully, the process is super simple: you can apply for an ETIAS online and it’ll only take a few minutes.
The application form will ask a few simple questions about you (such as your first and last name, date of birth, and contact information); your passport (serial number, issue/expiration date, nationality), and a basic overview of your plans in Europe. Once you’ve filled out the application, you’ll need to pay the application fee, and voila! Although most people get approved instantly, it can take up to 3 business days during the high season.
The only question is, where will you travel to first? Either way, we’re sure that you’ll have a memorable vacation.