a group of white buildings with red roofs

2022 is promising to be the biggest summer of travel since 2019, and if things keep going the way they are — maybe, ever.

Airlines have jacked up prices to recoup losses amid the massive demand, hotels have too, and restaurants not wanting to feel left out, have as well. What a time to be alive. What an even wilder time to travel the world.

2023, however, offers more questions than answers when it comes to travel. One of the few thing that’s for sure though, is that travelers will face new restrictions when heading to Europe. And for a change, they’ll have nothing to do with Covid-19.

Europe will launch its long awaited ETIAS, which is an electronic travel authorization you need to fill out and pay for before travel. It’s definitely not a “visa”, even though it is a visa, and if you tell Europe it is a visa, they’ll get mad.

One thing it definitively is though, is a new €7 (circa $8) travel tax.

a city with many buildings and a body of water
Lisbon, Portugal

Europe Will Launch ETIAS Program In May 2023

If all goes to plan the European Union and Schengen Area member states will launch the ETIAS travel program in May of 2023. For tourism and travel from this May date, an ETIAS authorization in advance of travel will be required for most visitors.

The Schengen Area of Europe consists of:

Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Basically, if you’re headed to one of these countries from May 2023 onward, you’ll probably need to submit an ETIAS before you go, and pay the accompanying €7/$8 fee. There’s no change for summer 2022.

This program mirrors the United States “ESTA” travel program by requiring all visitors to apply for a travel authorization in advance, and pay a fee accordingly.

The European ETIAS will cost €7, which is around $8 bucks. An Approved ETIAS will have a 3 year validity and will facilitate stays up to 90 days for the purpose of travel and tourism, but not business. Much like the US system, approvals should take hours rather than days for most visitors, but can take up to 30 days.

The Schengen Area of Europe also holds onto a 90 out of 180 and 180 out of 365 day rolling eligibility system, which means tourists can’t stay longer than these periods in a year.

If you are even remotely close at the time of entry, you may be denied entry even with an ETIAS authorization. Longer stays would require a more specific visa, or golden visa.

a blue passport with gold text on it

So, Is The ETIAS A Tourism Visa?

By dictionary definitions of a visa, it’s basically a visa, but since visas have a negative connotation to them, Europe is adamant that this is not a visa.

Yes, even though the real definition of a visa is “conditional authorization granted by a polity to a foreigner that allows them to enter, remain within, or to leave its territory.”

Visitors from 60+ countries including the United States and UK will be required to pay for and submit an ETIAS before being allowed to board any mode of transportation to one of Europe’s Schengen Area countries.

Breaking It Down: Reciprocal Tourism Money Grabs

The United States introduced the ESTA program, which costs $14 for a two year travel authorization in 2009 under the notion of security. In 2019, New Zealand launched a new ‘ETA’ tourism authorization for $30USD to protect sustainability.

Whether these visas contribute to either would require a formal commission set up by government and legal authorities, but they certainly bring in revenue. Tourism comes at a cost, both to infrastructure and staffing– and these — non-visa, visas — may help.

Europe is simply grabbing their “fair” share of travelers being taxed for tourism with the new ETIAS program. The move will impact over 1.4 billion global travelers, and at a rate of €7 a pop for an ETIAS application, that should pay for something.

Better immigration halls and shorter queues at airports? Don’t bet on it.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. You missed one not-so-small detail: in order to enforce ETIAS, Schengen countries will begin fingerprinting and photographing all visitors at the border!

  2. This is interesting. I hold a US passport as well as a passport of a European nation. When I enter Europe and exit Europe, I use my European passport. Our airline has our US passport information in the database so I wonder how this will effect my travel into the EU. Thanks for the article.

  3. Don’t forget the new £5 airport (fat cat) drop off tax. Anew charge just for turning up at the door and people are worried about a European visa charge and completely forget about the highway robbery going on over here.

  4. I agree that as in the USA, Canada, NZ and other countries, these “no visas” are just a tourist visa. Preclearance authorization works just like a visitor visa. For sure it is different from work visa but in the essence any preclearance is just like a tourist visa.

    I only do not understand the hype that Americans and Canadians are making when they are asked to fill the form and pay to EU for it. The USA and Canada asks us Europeans do the same.

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