U.S. travelers with plans to head to Europe in 2024 now have one less thing to worry about. A sweeping new travel registration system, which was slated to go into effect next year and will require U.S. citizens (as well as other foreign nationals) to register in advance and pay a fee of seven euros before entering much of Europe, is being delayed yet again, this time until 2025.
The European Council last week signed off on a new timeline for the implementation of the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). The new ETIAS travel entry requirement is now scheduled to launch in mid-2025, following the establishment of Europe’s new tech-driven Entry/Exit System (EES) that is slated to go into effect in the fall of 2024, according to the Council.
Initially meant to start in January 2021, the program was first delayed until 2023, and then again until 2024, and now once more until 2025.
Similar to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) in the United States, ETIAS is not a visa; it’s a travel authorization requirement for visa-free visitors that is being developed to enhance cross-border security. Whereas a U.S. passport is currently enough to enter one of Europe’s 30 Schengen Area countries for less than 90 days, once ETIAS goes into effect, U.S. citizens, as well as travelers from 60 other countries, will need to register in advance and pay a fee to obtain the ETIAS visa waiver and travel to any of the Schengen-zone countries. They include 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.
Once the EES and ETIAS systems are fully operational, international travelers will be able to apply online, a process that should only take about 10 minutes, according to ETIAS.com. To apply, you’ll need a valid passport, an email address, and a debit or credit card to pay the nonrefundable seven-euro application fee, which applies to individuals between the ages of 18 and 70. Those under the age of 18 or over 70 will still need to have an ETIAS but will not be charged. There are no other fees associated with the program.
After the application is submitted, it will be processed immediately, and travelers will receive an email confirming that their ETIAS has been approved within 96 hours or less.
“A small percentage of applications may take up to four weeks to process if additional documentation is required from the applicant. If your ETIAS has not yet been approved and you do not have any other travel authorization, you will not be able to enter a country within the European Union,” says the ETIAS website.
Each ETIAS authorization will be valid for three years—or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.
But no need to worry about all of that for now. There’s more than a year to still be reminded about how it will all work once ETIAS actually, really and truly, goes into effect.