In early 2017 I wrote about how the European Parliament was considering adding a visa requirement for US citizens visiting European Union countries. At the time it didn’t actually pass, but it looks like it’s finally happening now.
As of January 1, 2021, US citizens traveling to European Union countries will be required to obtain a visa prior to travel.
Now, don’t get too worried. You’re not going to have to go to a consulate, or anything, but rather you’re just going to have to fill out a quick form online, pay some amount of money, and hopefully be approved within a few days.
US citizens will be required to apply for an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) visa. This is similar to the electronic travel authorization that the US requires for visitors from many countries.
In order to obtain an ETIAS, US citizens will be required to have a valid passport, a credit or debit card, and an email account.
When applying, your passport must be valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay. The good news is that once issued, the visa will be valid for three years and multiple entries, so this isn’t something you’ll have to get every time you travel to the European Union.
The reason for this change is to increase security, and to be able to screen travelers long before they actually travel to Europe. At the same time, I imagine there’s some desire for reciprocity here, and I also imagine the government thinks this will generate extra revenue, and doesn’t mind that. 😉
In general I’m opposed to countries making it harder to visit, whether we’re talking about the time or money required to get a visa. Virtually every study shows that requiring a visa decreases the number of travelers.
However, this really is the best case scenario as far as requiring a visa goes. It can be obtained online, and it will be valid for three years and multiple entries.
I’d note that while this is now “official,” there’s always a chance that the plan for this changes, or that the implementation is delayed. I guess we’ll see.
What do you make of the EU soon requiring US citizens to get visas to visit?