Do your 2024 travel plans include visiting La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona or a gondola ride in Venice? If so, you’re going to have to plan on applying for a travel pass beforehand.
And, no, we’re not talking about the tourist tax to enter Venetian city limits or Spain’s Sustainable Tourist Tax. We’re talking about the ETIAS, which is set to launch in 2024.
Americans (and travelers from other countries like Canada and Great Britain) currently don’t require any special visa or travel pass to enter the Schengen area and other parts of Europe for short-term stays under 90 days.
However, the ETIAS is set to change that.
Here’s what to know if you’re planning a trip to Europe next year as an American or a passport holder from one of the other 59 different visa-exempt countries.
What Is The ETIAS?
ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorisation System. It’s a new system that will require visa-exempt nationals, like Americans, to request and pay for a travel pass before entering certain European countries.
And while that sounds a whole lot like a visa, it’s important to note that it’s not the same thing. Instead, it’s a travel pass, which is technically a visa waiver.
It’s similar to the ESTA some foreign travelers are required to have when visiting the US or Canada’s eTA.
The point? It’s not to make travel harder for Americans. It’s ultimately designed to help the European Commission enhance security and prevent travelers from overstaying their visit.
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So, when will these new rules go into effect? The ETIAS was approved in 2016, but its official launch has been delayed numerous times.
Currently, all official websites note that the date is “from 2024,” but they’ve provided no official start date.
If you’re traveling to Europe in 2024, we suggest staying updated with travel news and bookmarking the European Union’s official ETIAS page to periodically check for updates.
Which European Countries Do Americans Need A Pass to Enter?
While there’s still no official start date, officials recently announced the complete list of 30 European countries where Americans and other visa-exempt nationals will need a travel pass to visit once the program launches.
The full list includes the following countries:
- Czech Republic
What if you’re planning to take a larger trip throughout several European countries in 2024? You only need one ETIAS.
The ETIAS travel pass is linked to your passport and is valid for three years or until that travel document expires (whichever comes first).
Applying For The ETIAS
Because the ETIAS is not a visa, applying for one is pretty straightforward.
In fact, it’s set to be as simple as applying for the eVisa required for Americans to enter Turkey or the Electronic Travel Authority they have to apply for when visiting Australia.
To get an ETIAS, you’ll fill out an online application. You’ll enter information such as your passport number, place and date of birth, address, email address, and travel information.
You’ll also have to provide information about prior criminal convictions, your current occupation, and information regarding your length and purpose of stay.
Then, you’ll pay the €7 fee and wait for your application to be approved (applicants under 18 and over 70 are exempt from paying this fee!).
It shouldn’t take any longer than four days (although ETIAS.com says 95% of people should be approved within minutes) unless they request further documentation, in which case it could take up to 14 to 30 days.
ETIAS Doesn’t Guarantee Entry
Unfortunately, simply having the ETIAS doesn’t automatically grant you entry to any of the 30 European countries in the list above.
You still have to go through the regular passport control check, where a border control agent will check your passport and any other required documentation.
This could include asking to see travel insurance, requesting proof of sufficient funds during your stay, or even asking to see accommodation reservations.
Ultimately, they have the last say on whether you’re allowed in or not, so check the entry requirements for the country you’re flying into just to be sure.
And finally, stay up to date on ETIAS news. Until it’s officially launched, start planning your European getaway by looking into underrated European cities to visit.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com