Is a Visa Required for Travel to Europe Right Now?
No, but the rules are about to change. This new process does not reintroduce visa-like obligations, and a trip to a consulate is not necessary. According to the European Commission and U.S. State Department officials, ETIAS is simply a travel authorization for visa-free visitors. The requested information is less extensive than to obtain a visa but expect scrutinization by Interpol and Europol during the approval process. The reason? The European Union (EU) believes this new requirement is a way to protect travelers from possible terrorist threats and strengthen its borders.
How Do I Get ETIAS Authorization and What Does it Cost?
Do I Need to Apply Each Time I travel?
No. After you apply for the first time, your travel authorization is valid for three years, or until your passport expires. The ETIAS is valid for short-term stays up to 90 days for both leisure and business travelers, so you can re-enter Europe multiple times within that three-year period without a renewal providing your visit doesn’t exceed 90 days within a 180-day period. If you plan to study or work in Europe, you need to apply for a proper visa.
Which European Nations Will Require ETIAS Authorization to Visit?
The new travel authorization applies to people who travel to any member country of Europe’s Schengen Zone (an area comprising 26 European states that officially abolished all passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders in 1985) Currently, this zone includes 22 countries that are also members of the EU, four non-EU countries, plus three European micro-states. What this means is that you will need to register to enter:
Note: Though Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Cyprus aren’t currently Schengen countries, they are working toward joining this group and will be subject to the same requirements once they do.
Which Countries Will Not Require the New ETIAS Authorization in 2024?
Many European nations, mostly in Eastern Europe, aren’t part of the Schengen Zone. Without ETIAS authorization, you will still be able to travel to:
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Croatia (may join in 2024)
Who Else Will Need ETIAS Authorization?
This new program isn’t limited to U.S. citizens. In fact, 62 other countries require citizens to have an ETIAS when visiting countries in the Schengen Zone. The list of ETIAS-eligible countries includes Canada, Mexico, Australia, and many more.
The Bottom Line: Is a Visa Required for Travel to Europe?
Basically, yes. But don’t let this new requirement dampen your plans for a European vacation. Travel is one of the greatest pleasures in life, and the ETIAS travel authorization is not a big deal.
updated April 3, 2023.