Travel to Europe won’t be so easy come 2021.
In two years, Americans will need to apply for something called ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) in order to enter the continent. The European Commission says the new visas will be enforced as an effort to upgrade international security, effective January 1, 2021.
At the moment, Americans traveling to Europe for less than 90 days don’t need any sort of visa.
The visa will be valid for three years and Americans won’t have to apply every time they want to visit. It will be valid for multiple entries.
The Europe Visa for Americans requires US citizens to have a valid passport, credit or debit card, and email address to apply. Costs are yet unknown. According to the ETIAS Visa website, “Applicants will need to fill out an online form with their contact details and passport information as well as answer some basic security questions.” If their application is denied, travelers will be able to contest the decision.
In early 2017, the European Union went back and forth over whether or not to pass new visa laws for Americans. In May 2017, the European Commission decided against reinstating visas for Americans, but stated that the decision was contingent upon the US reciprocating visa-free travel for Europeans. At the time, then-secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) John Kelly said that the US needed to reexamine its visa-waiver agreement with Europe, citing potential terrorism risks.
The current visa waiver agreement allows citizens of 38 countries to enter the US for up to 90 days without a visa. Changes to the program were passed at the end of 2017.