5 Things to Know About the New European Fee Starting in 2024
Here's what to expect and how much the ETIAS will cost you.
If you're planning a trip to Europe in 2024 (perhaps to cheer for Team USA at the Olympic Games in Paris next summer), you will probably have an extra step to take before heading to the airport.
The new European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) will require passport holders from 60 visa-exempt countries, including the U.S., to apply for approval to enter 30 European countries.
"That means that even if you've previously traveled to any of these European countries, you'll need to get ETIAS authorization to revisit them beginning in 2024. If you're traveling to multiple countries with this requirement, you only need to complete the form once," says Lael Kassis, vice president of market innovation and development for the travel company EF Go Ahead Tours.
Once the program is up and running, travelers to Europe will fill out the form online or via a mobile app and pay a 7 euro charge (about $7.57, depending on exchange rates; free for applicants 70 and older).
Approval is expected to be quick (as in minutes) and sent by email or app. But officials warn that approval could take as long as several weeks for some people if more information is required. For example, if your passport number or name changed or if you entered incorrect information such as the wrong nationality, corrections could take up to 30 days.
ETIAS was proposed in 2016 and intended to launch in 2022 as part of the European Union's effort to reduce security and migration risks and facilitate the arrival process for visa-free travelers. Its rollout was delayed due to COVID-19; however, all indications point to a 2024 implementation, though no firm date has been released. The European Union is expected to announce more details around ETIAS and its launch date this fall. In addition to keeping current on the official green light, here are five other important things to know.
1. ETIAS is not a visa
"There are reports floating around that this is a visa, which is incorrect. It's a simple travel authorization, like the USA's ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization)," says travel expert Kathy McCabe, host of PBS shows Dream of Italy and Dream of Europe. The Electronic System for Travel Authorization determines eligibility for travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The agency checks whether travelers pose any risk to the U.S. Like ETIAS, it is not a visa.
Though approvals won't require a visit to a consulate or biometric data collection, they do not guarantee entry into a country.
As is the case today, border authorities will still verify that each traveler meets the country's entry requirements. ETIAS allows travelers to remain for a short-term stay (90 days during any 180-day period). ETIAS does not give travelers the right to study long-term or work in the country.
Approval is not required of transit passengers (people connecting to other flights) who intend to remain in the international transit area of European airports.
2. ETIAS does expire
Once your application is approved, it will be good for three years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. You can apply for a new ETIAS when the expiration date is approaching, but make sure to give yourself time in the event something goes wrong (renewing will be the same process as the original application).
"As an ESTA holder, my biggest recommendation for new ETIAS applicants is to make sure you apply in a timely manner and then don't let it expire," says Patricia Palacios, cofounder of the travel website España Guide. "Once, I didn't realize my ESTA had expired and I was minutes away from boarding a flight to the U.S. Thankfully, my new application was approved instantly on my phone; otherwise, I would have missed my sister-in-law's wedding!"
3. You will be asked to provide personal and sensitive information
To apply for ETIAS you will need:
- A valid passport
- A payment card
- An email address
You also will be asked to provide your home address, current occupation, education, the first country you intend to stay in and information about past travel to conflict zones and any criminal convictions.
"We have to remember that our European friends and citizens from other visa-waiver countries have been doing this for years when flying to the USA, and our government asks for information similar to what the Europeans will now require," McCabe explains.
4. There is only one official ETIAS website
Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, recently put out a news release warning travelers that the number of unofficial ETIAS websites has increased to more than 50. Once it's ready, you should only use the official ETIAS website or the ETIAS mobile app. Once ETIAS starts, intermediaries such as travel agents and tour companies will be allowed to apply on a traveler's behalf and may charge an additional fee for their services.
5. ETIAS will not work for travel to the U.K., where a separate system and fee are in the works
The United Kingdom plans to roll out its own Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) system, which is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2024. The approval will be required of U.S. citizens entering the U.K. ETIAS will not count for entry into the U.K.
Once the system is online, the approval process will be similar, and a fee of 10 pounds (about $12.60, depending on exchange rates) will be charged. The approval will be valid for two years, or until the passport expires, whichever is first. Unlike Europe, the U.K. will require transit passengers to apply for an ETA.
"None of this is going to be that big of a deal for the majority of travelers," says John E. DiScala, founder of the travel website Johnny Jet. "My advice: Stay up to date, apply in advance and just think of it as one more thing to put on your to-do list before you go."
Written by Kimberley Lovato for AARP.
This article was republished with permission and originally appeared at AARP.