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article imageAmericans will soon have to register to travel to EU countries

By Karen Graham     Mar 9, 2019 in Travel
By 2021, Americans traveling to certain countries in Europe will have to pre-register online as part of a security system intended to screen visa-free travelers.
A few news outlets, including CNN, Esquire, and Travel & Leisure, mistakenly reported earlier this week that U.S. travelers will need a visa to travel to Europe. That is incorrect, reports the Chicago Tribune.
To be more specific, travelers to 26 European countries that comprise the Schengen Area of Europe will only need a passport and a credit or debit card to apply online for a European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) permit.
The ETIAS travel permit is good for three years. Americans will need to register online and pay a fee before traveling to Europe starting in 2021.
Member states in the Schengen Area
Member states in the Schengen Area
Officials with the European Commission and the U.S. State Department confirmed that ETIAS is simply a travel authorization for visa-free travelers, similar to the U.S. Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) to screen people in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
The EU delegation to the United States tried to clear it up, tweeting Friday, "Neither the #ESTA nor the future #ETIAS (EU equivalent) are visas. They carry out pre-travel screening for travelers benefiting from visa-free access."
Basically, the ETIAS is an online screening system meant to prevent potentially dangerous individuals from entering Europe. A spokesman for the European Commission said that the European Union decided to establish the ETIAS system in the summer of 2018 and it will be operational in 2021.
They fully expect that 95 percent of the requests for an ETIAS will be granted, leaving travelers to move about Europe for three years, or until their passport expires if that happens before three years. Not only that, but Quartz points out that the ETIAS permit is cheaper - At €7 (just below $8) - about half the cost of the ESTA ($14).
More about Visa, Europeean Union, ETIAS, Esta, preregistration
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