You may soon need to register to travel to Europe

Gone are the days when a passport was enough to allow you to enter another country. Now, largely because of COVID, travel – and, more specifically, international travel – comes with a corresponding paper trail in the form of PCR tests and all other forms of health clearances. And, just as many countries are removing their pre-arrival testing requirements, another requirement is expected to apply to Americans heading to Europe in 2023.

According to a new report from Forbesin just over a year (May 2023), US citizens and travelers from 58 other countries will need a European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) visa waiver to visit a country in the Schengen zone for any stay of less than 90 days for “general tourism, business, transit or medical reasons”.

So what exactly is ETIAS? The simplest explanation, according to its website, is that it is a filtering tool that aims to improve the security of EU member states within the Schengen area by capturing data on travelers who are currently visiting the visa-free zone. Furthermore, it will help to “identify security, irregular migration or high epidemic risks posed by visa-exempt visitors”.

“The aim is to identify individuals who pose security threats before they can travel to the Schengen area,” it read. So when it launches, US citizens will need to fill out the application before boarding an airplane, sea carrier or coach to Europe – travelers who are just passing through en route to other included destinations.

The good news is: the ETIAS application should normally be processed and approved within minutes, it is valid for up to three years from the date of issue, it can be used for multiple entries as long as they all last less than 90 days, and no biometric data is collected. Instead, applicants will be required to answer “a series of security questions regarding the health of the traveler and whether they have been to conflict zones in the past,” according to

The bad news is that there are administration fees (it’s only €7) and, in addition, it’s one more worry before a trip to Europe which, for many, is already an ordeal stressful. That said, as Suzanne Rowan Kelleher points out, the United States has run an almost identical visa waiver program since 2008 – a program that requires travelers from 40 countries in Europe and beyond to apply online for a visa waiver. visa and to pay $14 for short stays. So all things considered…it seems fair.

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