For Americans accustomed to just booking-and-going when it comes to European travel, an additional step will soon require some additional planning. In two years, most European Union countries will begin implementing a new travel visa as a requirement for U.S. citizens and citizens from 59 other countries to enter.
The visa website cited concerns over illegal migration and terrorism as the reasons for the increased security measures. Currently, Americans traveling to Europe for 90 days or less don’t need a visa. Beginning Jan. 21, 2021, all Americans looking to travel to a European Schengen-zone country, including France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and others, will need ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) authorization. This includes minors.
For those who have never had to get a visa, a visa is an endorsement placed within a passport that grants the holder official permission to enter, leave or stay in a country for a specified time period. In order to get one, you’ll need a valid passport, credit or debit card and an email account.
The visa is valid for three years and is “multi-entry,” so you don’t need to apply every time you want to visit. Obtaining the ETIAS visa should be “affordable, simple and fast,” with an estimated one-time cost of just 7 euros or 8 dollars, according to a press release from the European Commission.