The E.U. will require Americans and citizens of 59 other countries to complete a European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) visa waiver starting in 2023.
By the end of this year, even those who up until now haven’t had to get a visa to enter any of Europe’s 26 Schengen member countries will have to apply for a European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) travel authorization. That means meeting and event professionals will have to ask attendees from 60 countries to leap a new visa waiver hurdle to come to meetings in the European Union, even for stays of 90 days or fewer, which covers virtually all meeting and event-related trips. While E.U. citizens still just need a passport or national ID card to travel in the Schengen area, 26 countries in Europe will require an ETIAS travel authorization as an added security measure, according to the ETIAS website. A full listing of all those who will be required to apply for an ETIAS authorization can be found here, though the authority warns that more countries likely will be added to the list.
While it is an added requirement for travel to the E.U. for Americans and those who hold passports from 59 other countries — all of whom now can enter with just an airline ticket and a passport, plus whatever COVID-related testing and vaccination requirements are in place at the time — the burden does not appear to be a heavy one.
The ETIAS visa waiver, which is designed to help screen out terrorists, those who would enter the E.U. illegally, and those who may pose a health risk, does need to be completed within four day of travel. However, the application only takes about 10 minutes to complete online — no biometric data required, just basic passport data, a current email address, and a valid debit or credit card to pay the approximately $8 U.S. fee. The authorization, which according to the ETIAS website should come within an hour or so after completing the online form, is valid for three years’ worth of visits to the E.U.
The ETIAS visa waiver program, while new to travelers heading across the pond, won’t be a shock to the system of anyone who plans meetings and events in the U.S. that draw an international crowd. Citizens from 40 countries have had to fill out the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to boarding a U.S.-bound air or sea carrier to prove they are eligible to travel under the U.S. visa waiver program since 2008.