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2020 is the last year that many people will be able to visit the Schengen countries of Europe without a travel screening visa waiver called ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System). Starting in January of 2021, an ETIAS visa waiver will be required for entry into the Schengen area if you reside in one of the 60 eligible countries, of which the United States is one.
The EU developed this program as a way to increase security and protect its borders. It’s basically a security pre-authorization, but instead of being optional to speed you through the airport like TSA pre-check, it is mandatory in order to enter the Schengen area of Europe. If you don’t currently need a visa to enter this area (in 2020), you will need to obtain an ETIAS authorization beginning in 2021.
Thankfully, it appears to be a fairly simple online application that will only cost about $8.00 and take 20 minutes to complete and should get approved within an hour. It will allow you to stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 days. If staying longer than 90 days, a separate visa will be required. The ETIAS visa waiver stays valid for 3 years or until your passport expires, whichever happens first. Find the full regulations and application information here. The below graphic does a great job of giving an overview of the rules.
What are your thoughts? Do you think this will help to decrease terrorism in the EU? Will this change your travel plans at all? If you’re not keen on applying for ETIAS, there are several countries that will not require the ETIAS visa waiver. Among them, Macedonia, Moldova, and Armenia are high on my bucket list!
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