In 2016 the EU began to develop a European visa waiver which all American tourists will soon need to obtain before leaving the US to visit Europe.
This new travel authorization is known as ETIAS: the European Travel Information and Authorization System. ETIAS will be implemented in late 2022 and, shortly after the launch of the scheme, it will become mandatory for passport holders from the US.
Once ETIAS for US citizens is up and running, Americans will be able to obtain the essential permit online by completing a short ETIAS application form. To finalize the request, the ETIAS visa waiver fee is paid using a credit or debit card.
The ETIAS visa waiver will be mandatory for all American citizens entering the EU’s border-free Schengen zone, which comprises 26 countries including top holiday destinations such as France, Spain, and Italy.
ESTA-inspired European Visa Waiver for Americans
ETIAS is being introduced as a European version of the US ESTA visa waiver which many foreigners must obtain to enter the States.
Following the success of ESTA and calls to improve European border security in recent years, EU authorities decided that pre-screening non-EU citizens from visa-exempt nations would be highly beneficial.
There are several similarities between ETIAS and ESTA. Not only is there an ETIAS visa waiver fee, just like for travelers applying for ESTA, but both programs are fully online.
Eligible Americans, along with other non-EU tourists, will complete a form with basic personal information and passport details, as well as answering a few security and health-related questions.
Applicants will be fully informed about how much the ETIAS costs before proceeding.
How much does ETIAS cost?
How much ETIAS costs is determined by the European authorities and is necessary to pay for the processing of applications.
Visa waiver such as ESTA and ETIAS cost the traveler money as they involve complex IT systems and other infrastructure.
Visas for most countries across the world also have to be paid for by the applicant. Non-EU nationals not eligible or ETIAS must pay the Schengen visa fees, for example.
How to pay the ETIAS visa waiver fee online
There will be certain ETIAS visa waiver requirements for all eligible citizens such as being in possession of a valid passport and being able to provide an email address.
The application will take approximately 10 minutes and, on completion, the ETIAS visa waiver fee is paid using a credit or debit card.
Following submission, traveler data will be cross-checked against various international security databases including the ETIAS Watchlist, Interpol, and the Schengen Information System (SIS).
How ETIAS will be implemented
Frans Timmermans from the European Commission stated that the ETIAS European visa waiver scheme would be “easy, quick, cheap and effective”.
It was also stated that the new security measure is a priority for Europe at the moment in order to offer European citizens and visitors greater protection from cross-border crime and global public health concerns.
Currently, Americans can travel to Europe using just a passport and do not need to pay any fees. This will change, however, once ETIAS for US citizens is operational from late 2022.
ETIAS is set to become mandatory following an initial 6-month grace period. From this point onwards, all eligible American citizens heading to the European Schengen Area will need to complete the online form, pay the ETIAS visa waiver fee, and await notification that the ETIAS has been approved before departing.
The majority of American applicants will receive the visa waiver within minutes of submitting a request.