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Americans Will Need a Visa to Visit Europe Starting in 2021 — Here’s What We Know

Travel + Leisure logo Travel + Leisure 3/7/2019 Cailey Rizzo
a person with a bicycle in front of a building: American tourists in Italy © Getty Images American tourists in Italy

Travel to Europe won’t be so easy come 2021.

In two years, Americans will need to apply for something called ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) in order to enter the continent. The European Commission says the new visas will be enforced as an effort to upgrade international security, effective Jan. 1, 2021.

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The ETIAS Visa for Americans will apply only to 22 countries in the Schengen Zone, including France, Germany and Italy. If you’re visiting the U.K., you will not need to apply for this visa.

At the moment, Americans traveling to Europe for less than 90 days don’t need any sort of visa.

The visa will be valid for three years and Americans won’t have to apply every time they want to visit. It will be valid for multiple entries.

The Europe Visa for Americans requires U.S. citizens to have a valid passport, credit or debit card and email address to apply. Costs are yet unknown. According to the ETIAS Visa website, “Applicants will need to fill out an online form with their contact details and passport information as well as answer some basic security questions.” If their application is denied, travelers will be able to contest the decision.

In early 2017, the European Union went back and forth over whether or not to pass new visa laws for Americans. In May 2017, the European Commission decided against reinstating visas for Americans, but stated that the decision was contingent upon the U.S. reciprocating visa-free travel for Europeans. At the time, then-secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) John Kelly said that the U.S. needed to reexamine its visa-waiver agreement with Europe, citing potential terrorism risks.

The current visa waiver agreement allows citizens of 38 countries to enter the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa. Changes to the program were passed at the end of 2017.

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