The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) will become a required part of traveling to much of Europe starting in mid-2025. Initially slated for 2021, then postponed to 2024, it seems now the system won’t be ready to go until the 2025 summer travel season.
So, if you plan on backpacking across Europe this summer, you can proceed as if it were still 2023.
But, if you have, say, plans to spend the dog days of 2025 on the beach in Mykonos, you will need to remember to fill out an “electronic travel authorization” form with ETIAS as part of your travel arrangements.
What is the ETIAS?
The ETIAS is a pre-travel authorization system for visitors to the Schengen Area, a zone comprising 27 European countries that have done away with passport and other types of border control at their borders. It’s the reason you can take a train from Berlin to Paris and not have to go through a border check.
Requiring less detailed information than a visa, the ETIAS is a form of travel authorization for visa-free entry, developed to beef up border security. We’re not returning to pre-WW2 visa requirements, but countries are cleaning up their borders.
Don’t Panic. The ETIAS Seems Easy
The ETIAS claims the process will be streamlined and available online. It involves filling out an electronic form, providing basic personal information, travel details, and answering security-related questions. It’s a small hassle, sure, but it’s not that difficult, especially considering how long one lasts.The ETIAS lasts for three years and authorization costs seven Euro (you can pay with a credit or debit card).
They say applications will be processed and approved with minutes. But, as with any official documentation, the devil will be in the customer service.
The Schengen Zone?
In addition to “travel authorization,“ add “Schengen Zone” to your new 21-st century travel vocabulary.
The Schengen Zone is a mutual agreement among a large group of European countries, from Portugal to Slovakia, where you can cross borders without having to show our passport or pass through customs.
It covers most of the EU. It grew to 27 members with the addition of Croatia in 2023 and Bulgaria and Romania in early 2024.
EU countries that don’t require the ETIAS are: Cyprus and Ireland
Three non-EU countries, however, do require the authorization: Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland.
That’s where you’re most likely to get tripped up. Starting out at a pub in Ireland, which doesn’t ask for ETIAS, and then after one too many with some lads, making your way to Ibiza in Spain for the weekend, which does need ETIAS. And you, American, forgetting to fill out all the forms in advance.
- You have to indicate your initial destination country within the Schengen Zone, but you can alter plans after arrival. So you will always need to know your port of entry, but not where you plan on departing.
- The ETIAS recommends completing your application once you know your touchdown country. This is, just in case there is a delay in processing. It’s the first time they’re doing this in the modern era. How well this works, is anyone’s guess.
- Make sure you aren’t applying for the wrong thing! Permits are only for short-term stays. A visa is still needed to cover long-term study or working in these countries.
Traveling While American: Other Countries with Documentation Requirements
Heading elsewhere this year? Here’s a quick look at the travel requirements for some of the most popular American tourist destinations.
To swim along the Great Barrier Reef, take a hot air balloon ride in Melbourne, you need to have the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). Apply online 24 hours before departure via the AustralianETA app. The ETA costs about $20 and allows multiple 90-day stays within a year.
The New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) is a requirement if you want to roam the majestic mountains like a hobbit. You can apply for an NZeTA online at least 72 hours before your departure, and it is valid for multiple visits for up to two years.
If you’re heading to the salt flats or otherworldly expanse of Dalí Valley, you’ll need a visa. Most Americans get one on arrival, but you need to pay in bolivianos. The visa costs $160 and allows a 30-day stay, up to 90 days per year.
Starting on January 10, 2024, if you want to experience soccer, er, football in Rio de Janeiro, you will need an $80 e-visa to get themselves to a beach in Brazil.
Ready to see what all the fuss is about? A Cuban Tourist Card, and interestingly, travel insurance, are needed to visit. The “tarjeta turistica” can be purchased online, allows a 30-day stay, and is valid for 180 days from purchase. The fee ranges from $20 to $85 with processing fees.
Dreaming of the Great Pyramids? Apply for an Egyptian e-Visa online. Fees range from $25 for a single-entry visa to $60 for a multiple-entry visa.
If you’re making a pilgrimage to one of India’s famed Yoga retreats, India’s e-visa system awaits! The tourist version comes in 30 days, one year and 5 years and must be applied at least for 4 days in advance. But, you should probably do it as soon as you book your flight in case there are delays. It costs from $25-$80.
To visit Bali’s beautiful resorts, you will need a visa, which you can get on arrival, at the airport, in Indonesia, for $35USD, valid for 30 days and extendable once, no matter how hard you wish you could never leave.
China is will be easier to visit ini 2024. Starting January 1, you will no longer be required to submit proof of round-trip air tickets, hotel reservations, itinerary or invitation letter.
Feel like taking a whirl to the mystical rock cities of Cappadocia? A Turkey Tourist Visa or e-Visa is valid for 30 days and costs $60 USD. Processing time is about 24 hours.
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