The procedure is changing for US travelers plan trips to Europe, but it doesn’t mean a visa is needed.
Contrary to a flood of media reports, no visa will be needed for European Schengen-zone countries but it will become slightly more complicated in 2021.
In two years, United States citizens will have to go through a new screening and registration procedure prior to travel.
This is known as the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), which means applying online and providing personal data such as name, date of birth and passport details.
Health and details of any past criminal record are required as well as previous travel history to Europe.
If it all looks good, a decision will be given by the system ‘within minutes.’
A reason will be issued if entry is denied.
Applicants will need a valid passport, an email account and a credit card to pay the €7 (about $8) processing fee.
The process doesn’t capture any biometric data and does not require an in-person visit to a consulate.
ETIAS will be used to screen against Interpol wanted lists, terrorist suspects and other travelers deemed a flight risk.
An EU spokesman said about 95% of applicants will likely be approved immediately.
The ETIAS is good for three years and valid for all 26 countries in the Schengen zone.
It offers multi-entry and like now, travelers can stay a maximum of 90 days.
The State Department tweeted the ETIAS is ‘not a visa’ but only an ‘authorization’ to travel.