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Going to Europe Next Year? You May Have to Pay a New Entry Fee

Starting in 2024, an $8 ETIAS application will be required for U.S. travelers to enter E.U. countries

Starting in 2024, some travelers to countries in the European Union will have a new hoop to jump through before they embark on their journey.

Following new travel authorization rules announced by the E.U. under the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), prospective visitors from more than 60 “visa-exempt” countries, including the United States, will have to fill out an online application and pay a small fee before traveling to any of 30 European countries.

“It’ll be a minor hassle, but it’s not unusual for countries to have entry requirements like this one,” said Cameron Hewitt, content and editorial director at Rick Steves’ Europe. “It certainly shouldn’t cause anyone to rethink a trip to Europe. From what we know, ETIAS looks like it’ll simply be a manageable bit of red tape.”

When will the E.U. start accepting applications?

The official ETIAS website says the E.U. will open applications “from 2024.” An exact date has not been announced yet.

Who needs to apply to visit an E.U. country?

Any national of the visa-exempt countries to the E.U. who is looking to travel to an E.U. country for a short-term stay must apply for ETIAS authorization. These visa-exempt countries include the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Mexico. A full list can be found here.

A short-term stay is defined by the European Union as any stay (or combination of stays) up to 90 days within a 180-day period. Stateless people living in and with a travel document from one of the visa-exempt countries or Ireland will also be required to apply for ETIAS authorization.

ETIAS can also be used in place of a visa for certain people who are nationals of visa-required countries. The full list of those eligible for this exception include students on a school trip who are nationals of visa-required countries but reside in any of the visa-exempt countries, Switzerland or Liechtenstein.

The full eligibility requirements can be found on the ETIAS website.

How much does it cost to apply?

There is will be a fee of 7 euros, or roughly $8, attached to the online application for ETIAS authorization. This authorization is valid for three years or earlier, if the travel document used to fill out the application expires before the authorization does.

Once used, this authorization is only valid for 90 days of travel within a 180-day period. If a traveler has not yet reached a 90-day stay in an E.U. country but wants to travel again more than 180 days after the authorization was first used, they will need to apply for a new authorization. This means that, starting in 2024, travelers who only visit an E.U. country for one week every year, for example, will need to apply and pay the 7 euro fee each year.

What information do I have to provide to ETIAS?

To apply, prospective travelers will have to provide personal information including their name, date of birth, nationality, address, parents’ names, email address and phone number. They will also be asked to share their current occupation and level of education, as well as details about intended travel and stay in E.U. countries.

Applicants must also include details of the document they will be using to travel, such as a passport. There are special requirements for eligibility for travel documents from some countries (not including the U.S.).

ETIAS applicants will also be asked to provide details about any criminal convictions among other personal information.

How do I know I’ve been approved?

Once the system is up and running, ETIAS applicants will receive an email confirming their application has been submitted. This email will have an application number that is important to keep for future reference. Once an application has been processed, travelers will receive a second email with the authorization decision.

How long will it take for ETIAS to approve me?

Most applications should be processed within minutes of applying, but prospective travelers should expect to receive an application decision within four days. Exceptions are if additional documentation or information is needed, or if applicants are asked to be interviewed.

If approved, travelers should confirm that all their personal information is correct; if there is a mistake that isn’t corrected before travel, the authorization will not be valid to cross into the E.U. If an authorization is for some reason rejected, applicants can appeal the decision.

How far in advance do I need to apply?

Starting in 2024, prospective travelers should apply for ETIAS certification at least a month before their planned travel date, and ideally before that. This is because it could take an additional 30 days beyond the normal turnaround time if you’re flagged for an interview. In the case of a rejected application, an appeals process would be necessary to travel.

Travelers must be in possession of their ETIAS authorization throughout their entire stay in the E.U. While the authorization is necessary to enter the E.U., it does not guarantee entry at border control. Travelers must still meet established E.U. entry requirements, which include having a passport or other travel document that is valid for the duration of their stay and at least three months afterward.

Will ETIAS requirements slow me down at airports?

Since ETIAS authorization is a new process, there’s a chance it could slow down the line at passport control, potentially creating problems for tight flight connections. Right now, if a U.S. traveler is flying to one country in the Schengen zone by way of a connecting flight in another Schengen zone country, they will have to go through passport control before getting on their connecting flight.

“Even before ETIAS, this process can cost a fair bit of time, which adds stress to a tight connection,” Hewitt said. “Once ETIAS is implemented, especially at first, I could imagine it might cause slower passport processing and longer delays. In 2024, I’ll be careful not to cut it too close on those layovers, until it’s clear whether this is an issue.”

Can I trust unofficial ETIAS sites?

According to the European Union, there are “dozens” of unofficial ETIAS sites that offer information on the upcoming system, with some illegally using the E.U. logo and publishing inaccuracies.

Though the E.U. does allow commercial intermediaries to apply for ETIAS authorization on behalf of customers, these third-parties could be operated by scammers looking to misuse personal information required in the application.

To avoid any potential scams, travelers should prioritize applying through the official ETIAS website once it becomes available in 2024.

Source: Washington Post