If you love to travel to Europe, you are going to want to pay extra close attention to the VISA exemption changes that are being made for Americans who travel to the European Union starting in 2021. No longer will you be able to enter the EU without preauthorization, so you will want to make sure you are prepared before you visit. In this article, I outline the changes that are being made to the VISA requirements for Americans, what you will need to travel to the EU starting in 2021, and the process for getting authorization.
The Current Visa Requirements for Americans
Currently, Americans are not required to obtain a VISA to visit Europe if they will be staying in Europe for 90-days or less. However, a valid passport that is good at least 3 to 6 months after departure from Europe (depending on the country) is currently required. If travelers from America are currently planning on traveling to Europe and staying for longer than 90-days, a VISA is required in addition to a valid passport.
New Visa Requirements
Starting in 2021, Americans will be required to obtain a European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) authorization prior to visiting Europe. This authorization is not a full-blown VISA, but it is more than Americans are currently required to obtain before visiting Europe for 90-days or less.
This short online application will be rather quick to request and will be good for 3 years once obtained. It will cost an estimated $8 USD to apply for an ETIAS authorization. When it expires, a new authorization will be required before visiting Europe. In order to obtain an ETIAS authorization, travelers must have the following:
- A valid US passport
- An email address
- A valid credit card
The following information will be required at the time of application:
- First name(s)
- Surname or family name
- Maiden name (if applicable)
- Usual name(s)
- Date of birth
- Place of birth
- Country of birth
The Areas of Europe Where This Will Apply
The new ETIAS authorization will be required to visit any country that is located within the Schengen Area of Europe. If you are unfamiliar with the Schengen Area, I have included a map below that you can reference.
Reasons for the Changes
The EU has decided to make this change for a number of reasons, which I have listed below. However, most believe that the main impetus for making this change is to respond to the United State’s refusal to remove VISA requirements for certain EU member states. This culminated with the EU releasing a report officially requesting that all EU member states be granted a VISA waiver to visit the United States.
Currently, citizens from the countries of Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland, Romania, and Cyprus are required to obtain a VISA before entering the United States. Some other reasons listed for implementing the ETIAS authorization process include the following:
- To improve security
- To prevent illegal immigration
- To prevent terrorism efforts
Who Will Be Affected
The European Union estimates that 95% of Americans will have no problem obtaining an ETIAS authorization to visit the EU. However, this does mean that an estimated 5% of Americans who apply for the authorization will be rejected.
Thanks for the info. Happy hoop jumping! I’d ask if being married to an Englishman gets me any special dispensation ;), but the way things are going with Brexit and all, the EU will probably require Visas of Brits next!
Sounds like that may in fact be the case, though it sounds like nothing has been decided officially about that. Lots of people are up in arms about it though.
Yeah. WTF?!?! was the first thing out of my mouth when I heard the news.
Yeah, me too. At first I thought it was retaliation for the US requiring a VISA for residents of Poland, Croatia, Cyprus, etc… However, it sounds like this is being implemented for all non EU members, so it will apply to more than just Americans. Sad to see more travel restrictions in this world 😢
I don’t mind adhering to another country’s requirements when visiting. It’s like being a guest in someone else’s house.
100% agree Jason. While it saddens me to see more restrictions on world travel, I will never fault a country or countries for trying to protect their citizens. 👍
Partly a consequence of Brexit I think as plans are to implement the same for Brits. Looks like it’ll be very similar to the US’ ESTA programme so not a big deal here, although plenty are moaning about it.
I agree Jason. It shouldn’t be a huge deal, bit a lot of people certainly seem to be up in arms.
Slightly more comical here as this is what many voted for. Outrage over immigration / free movement and now uproar that the EU have put restrictions on it.
Fortunately the fee isn’t too high for a 3 year visa so won’t actually impact those that want to continue traveling.
Indeed. I am happy the fee isn’t too high 👍
Not that I have plans to visit Europe, it’s good to keep up on requirements. I imagine this would also apply to anyone taking a European river cruise. Thanks for sharing.
Indeed it would. You are very welcome 😀