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Let’s go to Paris tonight will soon become let’s go to Paris in a few days…

Visa free travel is the best travel. You close your eyes, press search on your favourite online travel booking website, take a quick peek at the price, hit book, grab your passport and go. No need to fill out lengthy forms, pay any fees or wait in digital or real life lines. For all the most popular European Union countries, that’s changing. The EU has decided to require visas for all visiting US citizens, and that means your next spontaneous Euro trip just got a bit more complicated. At least, come 2021…

What’s Happening

Effective for travel starting January 1st, 2021, all US citizens will need to apply for an ETIAS visa before travel to any European Union country in the Schengen zone. Think: most European country you’ve heard of, with the exception of Ireland or the United Kingdom. The visas are designed to work like an ESTA, allowing multiple entries over a three year travel period without hassle. Well, after the initial hassle.

You’ll be able to visit any Schengen area country, and won’t need to apply for multiple visas for each place. Visas will be issued electronically and should be relatively fast and easy. Think of it as a one stop visa for most of Europe, but just a short hurdle you’ll need to climb before you visit…

What’s Not Happening

This new visa process doesn’t mean you’ll be standing in line or handing your passport over. You’ll simply apply online, and as long as your passport number stays the same, you’ll be in the system. There 100% will not be any…

  • In person appointments.
  • Need to get stamped before departure.
  • Handing over of your passport before your trip.

What It Means

This is not the end of the world, just a minor set back. The USA requires travellers to obtain an ESTA prior to arrival in the US, which costs a nominal $14 fee and allows multiple entries over two years of travel. With more than 75 million international travellers visiting the USA each year, $14 per traveller really adds up. Obviously, that’s the goal for this new EU measure as well.

How It Will Work

ETIAS visas should be approved in hours or just a couple days, and will likely require a fee similar to the USA ESTA visa, though with three years of validity instead of two it may be slightly higher. If your travel to Europe is completed before the end of 2020, you’ve got nothing to think about. But if you’re planning a Europe trip from January 1st, 2021 and after, you can expect to add a small fee and a little extra paperwork to your plans. Be sure to always allow at least one week for your visa to be approved.

Want your mind blown? More than 670 million people visit Europe every year. Imagine how much revenue would be generated from even a €10 visa…

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