If you’re planning a family vacation to Europe soon, you just got another item to add to your travel to-do list: starting in 2021 Americans will need approval to visit Europe.

As of Jan. 1, 2021, U.S. citizens traveling to several countries within the European Union will be required to apply to the European Travel Information and Authorization System in order to gain entry into the country. Previously, Americans were allowed to travel throughout Europe for less than 90 days without a visa.

photo: Rocio Ramirez via Unsplash

(Just to be clear, a visa and a passport aren’t the same thing. Here’s a quick primer on the difference between the two.)

The ETIAS requirement is technically not a visa, but an authorization that will be needed to visit 26 countries within the European Union known as the Schengen Zone, including France and Germany. The United Kingdom, however, is not among those countries. The new procedure is simply a security precaution to help track people entering the European Union.

Unlike a visa, travelers will not be required to visit a consulate to apply or go through a lengthy process. To gain an ETIAS authorization, travelers will need to submit a short online application and pay a fee of about USD $8. The approval process should take just a few minutes and once approved, the ETIAS authorization is valid for three years.

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—Shahrzad Warkentin

 

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