For Americans accustomed to just booking-and-going when it comes to European travel, an additional step will soon require some additional planning.
In two years, most European Union countries will begin implementing a new travel visa as a requirement for U.S. citizens and citizens from 59 other countries to enter.
The visa website cited concerns over illegal migration and terrorism as the reasons for the increased security measures.
Currently, Americans traveling to Europe for 90 days or less don't need a visa.
Beginning Jan. 21, 2021, all Americans looking to travel to a European Schengen-zone country, including France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and others, will need ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) authorization. This includes minors.
For those who have never had to get a visa, a visa is an endorsement placed within a passport that grants the holder official permission to enter, leave or stay in a country for a specified time period.
In order to get one, you'll need a valid passport, credit or debit card and an email account.
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The visa is valid for three years and is "multi-entry," so you don't need to apply every time you want to visit.
Obtaining the ETIAS visa should be "affordable, simple and fast," with an estimated one-time cost of just 7 euros or 8 dollars, according to a press release from the European Commission.
"Completing the online application should not take more than 10 minutes with automatic approval being given in over 95% of cases," the release said.
The visa website did not list the cost but said payment must be paid in advance online when applying with the traveler's contact information and passport details. Registration will also include some basic security questions.
The ETIAS is similar to the ESTA, which is what Europeans currently need in order to enter the U.S.
With the impending Brexit deal between the U.K. and the EU, Americans will not need a visa to enter the U.K. or Ireland.
The 26 Schengen member states that will require an ETIAS Visa authorization are:
- Czech Republic
The visa change also applies to Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City.