ETIAS Visa Waiver for US Citizens

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US Citizens will soon be required to apply for an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) if they are travelling to Europe. The ETIAS visa waiver system will be introduced by the end of 2022, after which, travellers from visa waiver countries will need to have an ETIAS to enter the Schengen Zone borders. The ETIAS system will help to improve security from terrorism threats and illegal immigration.
For US citizens planning a holiday or business to any of the countries in the Schengen Zone, they must apply for the ETIAS before they travel. The Schengen Zone includes 22 European countries and 3 non-EU countries (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).
The current situation for American citizens travelling to Europe is that there is no visa waiver in place, but they are able to visit Europe for short term trips of up to 90 days without a visa, as long as the trip is for tourism or business purposes. From the end of 2022, US citizens will need to apply for an ETIAS for these types of visits to Europe, although several EU countries also have a visa waiver bilateral agreement with the US that allows a longer stay than the 90-day Schengen limit.

How long can a US citizen stay in Europe?

The ETIAS is for trips to Europe for no longer than 90 days within every 180-day period. If US citizens want to visit European countries for longer than 90 days, they would need to apply for a Schengen visa instead. The ETIAS allows multiple-entry to Europe, so US citizens could travel to Europe numerous times using the same ETIAS.
When a US citizen applies for their ETIAS and it gets approved, the ETIAS will be valid for three years or until their passport expires, whichever date is the soonest. During those three years of validity, they would be able to visit the Schengen Zone as many times as they wished to, using their ETIAS.

Visa waiver bilateral agreements between the US and EU Member States

US citizens can stay in Europe for longer than 90 days through the bilateral agreements between US and the following countries (extra period allowed is in brackets):
  • Belgium (3 months)
  • Denmark (3 months)
  • Italy (3 months)
  • Hungary (90 days)
  • Portugal (60 days)
  • Spain (90 days)
  • France (90 days)
  • Latvia (90 days in half a year)
  • The Netherlands (90 days)
Under the bilateral agreements, you must remain in the EU member State and you are not able to freely move around the Schengen Zone.

Can you visit multiple countries in the Schengen Zone with ETIAS?

US citizens are able to move around the Schengen Zone using their valid ETIAS, so if you wanted to visit France, Germany and Italy, for example, you could travel around the different countries while using the ETIAS for travel authorisation. The Schengen Zone was created so that free movement is possible around the countries and the ETIAs works on the same principle of being able to move freely through the Schengen Zone.
What do Americans need to go to Europe?
Americans need to have a valid passport and a credit or debit card to pay their ETIAS application fee. They also need an email account that the correspondence will be sent to, such as confirmation whether it has been approved.
Travelling to Europe from the US with ETIAS
Europe is a very popular travel destination for US citizens and the ETIAS system ensures that eligible travellers are able to visit European countries without the requirement of applying for a visa through the Embassy, which takes much longer and costs considerably more to apply for.
Applying for an ETIAS is a much simpler and quicker process than the visa application, and just requires the applicant to provide some information to assess eligibility and answer some security questions.
ETIAS is not a guarantee that the traveller may enter the Schengen Zone and applicants may be asked to provide evidence of return flight tickets, health insurance and proof of funds that they can afford their visit to Europe including accommodation.
Do American citizens need a visa for Europe (Schengen visa?)
If American citizens want to stay in Europe for longer than the 90 days permitted by the ETIAS, or their purpose for visiting is not tourism or business, they would need to apply for a Schengen visa. The visa will be issued for a specific country and they will not be able to freely move around Europe.
How can Americans apply for ETIAS to visit Europe?
To apply for an ETIAS, you complete a short online form, answering details such as name and address, as well as passport details, security questions and medical history. It will usually take around 10-20 minutes to complete the form and you will need to have your passport details with you when you complete it.
Once you submit the form and pay the application fee, your application will usually be processed very quickly. If it is approved, it will be electronically linked to your passport ready for your trip to Europe.
The information will be pre-screened on databases by European immigration and customers authorities who will then be able to decide whether to approve the ETIAS.


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