Americans looking to travel to Europe will have to take an extra step and get a travel visa beginning in 2021. Currently, Americans who travel to Europe for 90 days or less don't need a visa.
Beginning on Jan 21, 2021, all Americans (including minors) who are planning to travel to a European Schengen-zone country will need to get ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) authorization.
"Our police officers and border guards need to have the right tools to do their jobs – keeping our citizens safe and our borders secure. ETIAS will pre-screen visa-free visitors for potential security problems, while the reinforced eu-LISA will allow us to continue to modernise EU-wide information systems for law enforcement and border management," said the Commissioner for the Security Union, Julian King.
Americans will need a valid passport, credit or debit card and an email account to apply for the visa. The visa is valid for three years and is "multi-entry" meaning you won't need to apply every time you want to visit.
"All visa-free travellers will need to request ETIAS authorization 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. Travelers will have to pay a one-off €7 (~$7.87fee) for travelers between 18 and 70 years old and the authorization issued will be valid for three years," the press release stated.
Authorities in Europe cited concerns over illegal migration and terrorism as the reasons for the change.
Thanks to the impending Brexit deal between the United Kingdom and the E.U., Americans won't need a visa to visit the U.K. or Ireland.
The 26 Schengen member states that will require an ETIAS Visa authorization are:
The visa change also applies to Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City.