Travel to parts of Europe is getting more expensive and you will soon need to fork over a fee to visit certain countries.
The European Union is launching its visa program, the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), in mid-2023. The ETIAS program requires international travelers to pay a fee and obtain permission to enter the European Union. Before traveling to the EU, visitors will need to go online, pay a fee, and obtain permission to enter the 27-member bloc. EU officials expect 95 percent of travelers to be confirmed within minutes. Anyone who is denied access will have the ability to appeal.
The online application will ask travelers basic questions like their name, date of birth, place of birth, and work history. The ETIAS will also ask which EU countries you plan to visit, your medical history, and criminal history. The cost to obtain an ETIAS will be $7.35 for anyone 18–70 years old. Anyone under 18 will not have to pay any fees, but a parent or guardian will still need to fill out the application.
Once approved by the ETIAS, travelers can enter the EU an unlimited amount of times over the next 3 years. After that time period, visitors will need to re-apply for the visa. The new ETIAS program does not override current visitation laws, which state that visitors cannot stay more than 90 days in the EU for every 180 days.
The new visa program will be mandatory and affects about 60 countries, including the United States. It also affects visitors from the United Kingdom who lost access to the EU after Brexit. Nothing will change for any visitor who previously needed a visa to enter the bloc. Anyone living within the EU will be exempt from the new visa system, having the freedom to travel within bloc countries at will.
Procedures to pass the ETIAS visa program for the EU began in 2016. EU officials argue the visa program is needed to make travel within the EU safer and easier. Officials say the program will help identify potential risks to the bloc before they even enter. It can also deport individuals who pose a risk during their stay within the EU.
“We need to know who is crossing our borders,” said Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, during his 2016 State of the Union address. “This way we will know who is traveling to Europe before they even get here.”