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The scheduled 2024 introduction of ETIAS, a special travel authorization covering most of Europe, has now been postponed until May 2025. So, if you have a European vacation planned for next summer, that’s one task you can leave off the to-do list.
Once the program starts, however, ETIAS—which stands for the European Travel Information and Authorization System—will apply to 1.4 billion people who will need this special authorization to enter 30 countries in the Schengen area of Europe. The document will cost €7, or about $7.50, and will be valid for three consecutive years.
For at least another year, most Americans will need only a passport to visit most of the Schengen countries. But when ETIAS finally kicks in, it will be a requirement: If you don’t have it, you won’t be allowed to get on that plane.
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What Is ETIAS?
ETIAS was approved in 2016 as part of an international effort to increase security. It was supposed to begin in 2021, but its start was delayed by a series of obstacles, including the Covid-19 pandemic and a lack of infrastructure that could support the program.
Under ETIAS, travelers will undergo security screenings before their arrival in the affected European countries, preventing those who pose a security threat from entering. That is expected to reduce the likelihood of security incidents, according to ETIAS.com.
ETIAS affects travelers from 59 countries, including the U.S. and Canada, who plan to stay in a participating country for 90 days or less. Once your security check is completed and you’ve been approved, your authorization is good for up to three years. While most people will have to pay the fee, ETIAS is free to anyone under the age of 18 or over 70.
How To Apply for ETIAS
U.S. citizens traveling to Europe will be able to apply on the ETIAS website when its application section becomes operational. To keep an eye on that, you can sign up for email updates on the website.
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