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US Citizens subject to new checks when visiting Europe
From 2021, Americans will need to register for authorization to visit EU countries

Published on March 11, 2019

It has been confirmed that the European Union's new ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) will require US Citizens to pre-register their travel arrangements to certain EU countries from 2021. ETIAS covers travel to countries which are part of the EU's Schengen Area, a zone which currently includes 26 countries which allow cross-border movement without physical border controls. Those 26 countries which form the Schengen Area include France, Germany, Spain, Greece, Italy, Poland and others. The UK is not part of the Schengen Area, and if/when the UK formally leaves the EU, it has been announced that UK Citizens will also need to register via the ETIAS system for short stay trips (up to 90 days in any 180 days)

The system has been described as similar to the US' Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

When the European Union approved ETIAS in July 2018, a statement from the European Commission explained that "All visa-free travellers will need to request ETIAS authorisation prior to their visit to the Schengen area. Completing the online application should not take more than 10 minutes with automatic approval being given in over 95% of cases. Travellers will have to pay a one-off €7 fee (for travellers between 18 and 70 years old) and the authorisation issued will be valid for three years."

A US State Department official responded to the development by saying in a statement that "We are aware of the European Union's plan to implement its own travel information and authorization system, similar to the US ESTA, to contribute to a more efficient management of the EU's external borders and improve internal security ... Each country has the right to determine its standards for entry".

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