Later this year, spontaneous travel to Europe from the United States was expected to become harder with the implementation of a new European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). But thanks to yet another delay to the long-awaited program, the rules for entering Europe won’t change until 2024 at the earliest.
According to the official website of ETIAS, the launch of ETIAS has quietly been pushed back to 2024 following a series of delays since the start of 2021. Currently, a U.S. passport is enough to enter one of 30 Schengen Area countries for periods of less than 90 days. But as previously announced—and first approved for development in 2016—American citizens, as well as travelers from 60 other countries, will require an ETIAS visa waiver to travel to any of the Schengen-zone countries for short stays once the ETIAS program goes into effect.
Although U.S. travelers won’t need a visa to travel to Europe, the program—once implemented—will ensure travelers are prescreened before their arrival into the following European Union countries and territories: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Vatican City.
Americans, and citizens of other countries affected, will need to provide passport information, answer a series of questions, and pay an online fee of 7 euros. It’s believed that one in five people around the world will need to enlist in the ETIAS program to travel to the European Union when it takes effect.
Upon the start of the program, officials say that ETIAS applications will be processed within 96 hours, although the majority of requests would be processed instantly. Some applicants may be asked for additional information or documentation or to participate in an interview with national authorities, which may take up to an extra 30 days. The official website of ETIAS advises that visitors should “apply well in advance of your travel to avoid complications.” Depending on real-life processing time, this may mean impromptu trips to Europe could be in serious jeopardy. However, travelers won’t have to worry about that until at least 2024.