Travelling to Europe is often as simple as booking a plane ticket, but from next year it will cost a fee and require a visa.
The European Commission will require travellers from dozens of visa-free countries – including the United States – to register with the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (or ETIAS). The new fee is expected to take effect next year for travellers aged 18 to 70.
Here’s everything travellers need to know about ETIAS before it comes into force.
When will ETIAS come into effect?
The ETIAS fee is expected to come into effect in 2024.
The fee was originally due to be implemented in 2021, but was delayed until November 2023 and then again until early 2024.
How much will it cost?
When it comes into effect, travellers will have to pay €7 ($7.70). The authorisation will then be valid for three years or until the expiry date of someone’s travel document.
Where will it be needed?
Who will have to pay the fee?
Travellers aged between 18 and 70 will have to pay. Family members of EU citizens are also exempt.
How do you apply?
When it comes into force, travellers will be able to apply via an official website or app before they travel. Travellers must apply as individuals (as the authorisation is linked to each person’s travel document), but people can authorise others to apply on their behalf.
Most applications are processed within minutes. Others can take up to 96 hours. And some may require additional information or documentation, or even an interview, and may take up to 30 more days.
Once the system is up and running, the European Commission is advising travellers to apply before booking a flight or hotel.
What information is required to apply?
To apply, travellers will need to provide personal information such as their name, address, passport details and current occupation, as well as any travel history to ‘conflict zones’ or any criminal convictions. Travellers will also have to provide details of their travel plans while in Europe.
Travellers will not be required to provide information about their health or vaccination status, nor will they be required to provide biometric data such as fingerprints.
What happens if you are refused?
Travellers can be refused an authorisation for a number of reasons, including if they are “considered to pose a security, illegal immigration or high epidemic risk”. If someone is refused, they will be told why.
Refused travellers will have the right to appeal against the decision. Future applications will not be automatically refused on the basis of a previous refusal.
What about visiting the UK?
The UK is no longer part of the European Union, so ETIAS does not apply to travel there. However, the UK is working to implement its own Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) system to fully digitise its borders by 2025. This system, which will cost £10 ($12.83) per applicant, will require all non-visa foreign visitors, including those from the US, to apply online in advance.
Does the US have something similar?
Yes. The U.S. also requires visitors to apply for a similar pre-entry authorisation called the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (or ESTA), which is available to travellers from Visa Waiver Program countries. Last year, the fee for ESTA was increased from $14 to $21.