Citizens of more than 60 countries will need a travel authorization from the European Union before travelling, starting in 2021. The EU announced that it was creating a European Travel Information and Authorization System, or ETIAS, that will require “pre-travel screening for security and migration risks of travellers benefiting from visa-free access to the Schengen area.”
ETIAS was created mirroring the US Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) that requires the nationals of certain countries that do not typically require visa for a short-term stay to register before travelling to the 26 countries belonging to the Schengen Area
The Schengen Area is a zone that does not have internal borders and allows people to move freely without border and security checks. The zone includes the EU’s biggest countries and popular travel destinations – France, Spain, Greece, Italy and Germany, among others. Currently, the US citizens, for example, do not need any travel authorization for stays of up to 90 days. Visa-free travellers will newly need ETIAS authorization that they can obtain by completing an application online and paying a service fee of 7 euros. The authorization will be valid for 3 years.
“Completing the online application should not take more than 10 minutes with automatic approval being given in over 95% of cases,” the European Commission said in a statement. “We are aware of the European Union’s plan to implement its own travel information and authorization system, similar to the US’ ESTA, to contribute to a more efficient management of the EU’s external borders and improve internal security,” a US State Department official said in a statement. “Each country has the right to determine its standards for entry.” As of 2021, there will be 60 countries required to apply for the ETIAS before entering the Schengen Area.