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Starting in 2021, Americans will need to apply for ETIAS or European Travel Information and Authorization System to travel to most countries within the European Union. This new system, an effort to upgrade international travel security, has fueled plenty of misconceptions since the announcement was made.

Currently, Americans who travel to Europe for less than 90 days do not need an authorization or visa. Beginning January 1, 2021, Americans will need to apply for ETIAS to travel to 26 nations in the Schengen Zone including Italy, Germany, and France. ETIAS will not be required to visit the United Kingdom.

What Is ETIAS?

ETIAS is an authorization system, not a visa, in which an application is submitted online ahead of arrival. The purpose of ETIAS is performing a pre-travel assessment for security risks, public health risks, and irregular migration risks. ETIAS ensures that a third country national meets entry requirements to enter the Schengen Zone.

Applying for ETIAS does not require submitting any biometrics like fingerprints, and it is done entirely online with a valid passport, email address, and credit or debit card to pay a €7 application fee. The application is processed quickly with approval and verification in as little as a few moments or as long as two weeks. About 95% of applicants are approved in minutes.

Once approved, ETIAS status lasts for three years, but proof of approval will be required at checkpoints, including before boarding a plane, at customs, and border crossings.

Which Countries Will Require ETIAS?

Only travel to countries within the Schengen Area will require ETIAS approval. This zone includes 26 countries in Europe which have abolished international borders for unrestricted, free travel. Most EU countries are covered as well as a few countries in the Zone that are not part of the EU like Iceland and Norway. The full list of nations that will soon require ETIAS approval from U.S. citizens include: Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Spain, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Germany, Greece, France, Finland, Estonia, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, and Denmark.