Spontaneous overseas vacations for summer jet-setters from the US will soon be a thing of the past, as the European Union (EU) has announced the implementation of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) beginning in 2024. This new pre-approval system will require travelers to obtain an ETIAS travel authorization before embarking on their European adventure, adding an extra step to their trip-planning process.
To secure the ETIAS authorization, vacationers will need to submit an application at a nominal cost of approximately $8. The application process will involve providing standard travel documentation, such as a passport, along with personal information, education level, current occupation, anticipated trip details, and any criminal convictions. While most applications will be processed within minutes, some may take longer, and the EU advises travelers to apply “well in advance” of their intended travel dates.
The EU assures applicants that they will receive a response within four days, but in certain circumstances, this period could be extended by 14 to 30 days. Once obtained, the ETIAS authorization will remain valid for up to three years or until the visitor’s passport expires, allowing multiple entries to the EU for short-term stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
However, it’s important to note that the ETIAS authorization is not a guarantee of entry into the EU. Upon arrival, travelers will still be subject to the scrutiny of border guards who will verify whether they meet the entry conditions, including having a valid passport and any other necessary documents.
The new pre-approval requirement will only apply to visits to 30 European countries, including popular destinations like Spain, Germany, France, and Greece. For travelers who are fans of the iconic movie “Mama Mia!”, Greece’s idyllic landscapes may require a little more planning.
While EU officials maintain that the process will not be overly complicated, some concerns have been raised about the potential for confusion and delays during the initial implementation phase. Experts anticipate that many Americans, unaccustomed to such pre-approval systems for European travel, may face unexpected challenges at boarding gates, risking the possibility of being denied boarding during the early stages of the system’s introduction.
As the new system comes into effect, both travelers and airlines are urged to familiarize themselves with the ETIAS requirements to ensure a smooth and hassle-free travel experience. With proper planning and preparation, travelers can continue to explore the beauty and rich cultural heritage of Europe without any major disruptions to their long-awaited vacations.