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  • Writer's pictureLeila Roker

Americans will need a visa to travel to Europe starting in 2024. Here's everything you need to know.

The US passport is ranked the 8th most powerful in the world because it grants its holders visa-free access to 184 destinations in the world. American travelers and United States citizens typically skate through the majority of their travels without having to worry about ‘visa applications’ before heading to their final destination, but in 2024, US citizens will have to apply for authorization before skipping off to Euro holidays in the European Union or any plans for the Paris 2024 Olympics. So what are these new steps Americans will need to take before their next Euro vacay?

What is the system?

These new travel regulations are called the European Travel Information Authroisation System (ETIAS). It’s the latest screening measure for travelers from the US, Canada, and Australia. The ‘visa’ is not similar to the ones that people use as a working visa or student visa, which requires multiple appointments and a hefty dossier. Instead, this verification system is specifically dedicated to touristic travel, minimizing the amount of necessary documents.

While the application isn’t yet available, the EU says that it will be a form filled out via a web portal or mobile phone application, asking users for their date of birth, their parent’s names, their current occupation, and any previous criminal convictions.

This application is for tourist use and allows visitors to stay within the EU for up to 90 days within any 180-day period. The application costs €7 (around $8). Once approved, the authorization is valid for multiple entries over the course of three years, or until the traveler’s passport expires.

Will this new measure slow down your travel plans?

Probably not, but it will require you to plan further in advance. It’s speculated that the process could take up to 96 hours to get approved, but some experts suggest applying no later than a month out because the wait could take up to 14 days if you’re requested to provide additional information and up to 30 days if you’re invited to an interview. So it may be wise to think twice about a last-minute weekend getaway. That being said, once you’ve been approved for your first trip, last-minute deals are back on the table!

Why is this being implemented?

For many other international travelers, these digital pre-screens, or ESTAs (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) are already required of them before entering regions like the US, so this form of electronic pre-approval is nothing new. The official reasoning for the Schengen Region tightening its security measures is to have better visibility on travelers entering and leaving EU countries. Post-Covid, European airports saw an almost 250% increase in passenger volumes and France expects over 1 Million Tourists for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games so these additional security measures can grant them extra protection.

Although the official reason is clear, another lingering possibility is that foreign countries are becoming increasingly frustrated with American tourists. In just January to July of 2023, 40 million Americans traveled, with 11.7 million American travelers’ destinations in Europe, surpassing pre-pandemic numbers. And despite the rising prices of travel, there are a myriad of cost-saving platforms and ways to pay it back in installments, allowing travel to be more accessible to the masses.

In addition to the many passengers in airports and on airplanes acting out, some people have been behaving badly abroad as well. In addition to many Europeans claiming that Americans don’t respect their respective cultures, earlier this year, one man carved his and his girlfriend’s name into the wall of the Colosseum, and in June 2022, two American tourists caused $25,000 worth of damage to the Spanish Steps in Rome. In another incident in May 2022, Americans skinny-dipped beside the 14th-century Arsenale landmark. These are just some of the many incidents that have garnered a lasting effect- many European countries’ public opinion of the US hovered around the low 60th percentile in 2022.

And it’s not just Americans- in August 2022 two Australians surfed down the Grand Canal and in another incident, an Australian rode his moped around the ancient Roman site of Pompeii. Interestingly, both of these Anglophone countries will be required to fill out ESTAs before traveling to Europe in 2024.

Reasoning aside, these new travel requirements will take some getting used to, but with a little extra planning for trips beforehand, you can still enjoy your next Euro trip in 2024.

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