Currently, American citizens traveling to most of Europe, including Italy, France, Spain, Greece and Germany, do not need a visa as long as they’re staying in Europe for no more than 90 days.
But according to viral posts on Instagram and X, formerly Twitter, that’s changing in 2024. These posts with millions of views claim that U.S. citizens will need a visa to travel to Europe in 2024. Acquiring a visa generally adds several steps to travel plans, including potential requirements to visit a consulate or embassy for a visa interview.
Will U.S. citizens need a visa to travel to most of Europe in 2024?
No, U.S. citizens will not need a visa to travel to most of Europe in 2024.
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WHAT WE FOUND
U.S. citizens and the citizens of many other countries will be required to apply for travel authorization before entering a group of 30 European countries starting in 2024, according to the European Union. This is a different process than applying for a visa.
This authorization, called the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), is not a visa and does not require visa-like obligations to travel, the European Commission says. The goal of ETIAS is to bolster the security and safety of Europe without sacrificing its visa-free travel agreements with various countries.
Americans will need ETIAS authorization to enter a part of Europe called the Schengen Area, which is primarily made up of countries in the European Union and countries that border the EU. These countries include popular destinations like France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Greece.
ETIAS will be an online application that should be processed within minutes, the European Union says. However, the decision on your application can take as long as four days, and even as much as 30 days if you’re invited to an interview.
When you apply for ETIAS, you will have to pay 7 Euros (approximately $7.61) and will be asked to provide the following information:
- Personal information including your name, date and place of birth, nationality, home address, parents’ first names, email address and phone number
- Travel document details
- Details about your education and occupation
- Details about your intended travel and stay in any of the countries requiring ETIAS
- Details about any criminal convictions, any past travels to war or conflict zones, and whether you have recently been the subject of a decision requiring you to leave the territory of any country.
A major difference between ETIAS and a visa is that visas require more information and are more time consuming. The European Commission says that the procedure for a Schengen Area visa can take up to 15 days, and in some cases as long as 60 days, while the online ETIAS application can take only a few minutes to fill in.
“There is no need to go to a consulate to make an application, no biometric data is collected and significantly less information is gathered than during a visa application procedure,” the European Commission says. “The validity will be for a period of three years, significantly longer than the validity of a Schengen visa. An ETIAS authorisation will be valid for an unlimited number of entries.”
ETIAS will allow you to stay in most of Europe for up to 90 days during any 180-day period, which is how long you’re allowed to stay in Europe without a visa currently. ETIAS is valid for up to three years or when your travel documents expire, whichever happens first. You’ll have to apply for a new ETIAS authorization to enter Europe once it expires.
Your ETIAS travel authorization will be linked to the travel document you used as part of your application. Therefore, you’ll need that travel document, such as your passport, to enter Europe. Border guards will still verify you meet European entry conditions before letting you enter any ETIAS countries.
You do not need an ETIAS travel authorization if you have a layover at a European airport, the European Union says. You only need an ETIAS authorization if you leave the international transit area of the airport you’re flying through, which you must go through the airport’s customs lines to do.
You will not be able to enter the United Kingdom with ETIAS; British citizens will actually need an ETIAS travel authorization to travel through the Schengen Area, the British Parliament says. However, the British Parliament says entry into the United Kingdom will require its own electronic travel authorization (ETA) beginning in 2024.
There will be a fee for the ETA, but the exact cost has yet to be confirmed. ETAs will usually be issued “within three working days,” the British Parliament says.
The U.S. has its own electronic authorization for travelers who don’t need visas, which it calls the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). The fee for that application is $21.
The European Union’s website says ETIAS is currently not in operation and it is not collecting applications for ESTIAS as of yet.