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Will US citizens require an ETIAS to visit Europe?

by Pilar Dujan | August 28, 2023
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As of now, US citizens can travel to Europe without having the need to apply for a visa… but that will change in the near future with the arrival of the ETIAS. 

Here you will find all you need to know about the ETIAS for US citizens.

ETIAS: Do US citizens need a visa for Europe?

No, US citizens will not need to apply for a visa before entering the Schengen Area. However, US citizens will need to have a valid ETIAS visa to travel to Europe starting in 2024

The ETIAS is an electronic travel authorization, a visa waiver system (much like the ESTA for traveling to the US). As such, it can be applied for completely online.

It will be a requirement when traveling for reasons of tourism, business, medical treatments and if you’re on transit to another country.

Remember that not all European countries are part of the Schengen Area nor part of the ETIAS visa waiver program. Some still require their own specific visas, like Russia or Turkey. 

ETIAS holding US citizens will be allowed to enter one of the member countries by air, land or sea indistinctly.

Why do US citizens need an ETIAS?

The ETIAS first came to be as an additional security measure to protect European borders, specifically against (but not limited to) terrorist attacks. 

It’s a way to keep track of travelers who are exempt from having to apply for a regular travel visa at an embassy or consulate.

Can you apply for an ETIAS as a Green Card holder?

Having a Green Card doesn’t equal having a US passport. To travel to Europe you will need to present the passport of your own nationality. If that passport is from a country that is not eligible to apply for an ETIAS, then you will need to apply for a Schengen visa instead.

European flags

Where can US citizens go with an ETIAS?

The ETIAS is a requirement for US travelers wishing to enter the Schengen Area. This area includes 27 countries: 23 members of the European Union and 4 members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania will have joined the Schengen Area by the time the ETIAS is live, so it will be valid to visit those three countries as well.

Andorra, Monaco, Vatican City and San Marino can only be accessed through a Schengen country (when traveling by land). In that case, you will also need an ETIAS to visit the 4 microstates

Here’s a complete list of all the countries US citizens will be able to visit freely with an ETIAS:

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

The list may change as more countries join this visa waiver program.

For how long can US citizens stay in Europe with their ETIAS?

The length of stay allowed by ETIAS is 90 days within a 180-day period. ETIAS will allow for multiple entries to Europe, so the 90 days can be spaced out. 

The ETIAS for US citizens will be valid for 3 years

ETIAS application process for US citizens

The ETIAS application process for US citizens consists of filling out an online application with personal and safety-related information. It won’t be necessary to go into an embassy or consulate at any point of the process.

This is a very quick process: the decision will be made in a matter of minutes (once the application is processed). Those who are approved can expect to be notified by email a few days after applying. 

A huge benefit of the ETIAS is that it can be applied for on any device (desktop, cell phone or tablet), as long as it’s connected to the internet.

Lights of Europe at night

ETIAS: Requirements for US citizens

To complete the ETIAS application, US citizens will need:

  • A valid US passport. You need to use the same one for traveling and for the application, otherwise you will be rejected when trying to enter your destination of choice. This is because the ETIAS will be read electronically and automatically when the authorities scan your passport. It has to have a biometric chip and a validity of 3 months after leaving Europe.
  • An email address to receive their approved ETIAS.
  • A credit or debit card to pay the fees.

When they arrive, US citizens will need to provide the approved ETIAS and their passport. In some cases, the authorities could also ask you for:

  • Proof of the reason for the visit. It can be a hotel reservation or an invitation for a specific event/meeting.
  • Proof of financial means to support you during your stay.

If they ask you for those papers and you don’t have them, you will not be allowed to enter the destination country. Try to be prepared.

Can the ETIAS application be rejected?

Yes, an ETIAS application can be rejected under these conditions:

  • If your US passport is reported as lost or stolen.
  • If you come from an area that presents an epidemic risk, endangering public health. 
  • If there’s an alert from a previously refused entry to an EU country.
  • If the application contains misleading or fraudulent information/documentation.
  • If you’re flagged as a potential illegal immigrant or security risk.
  • If you fail to provide the additional documentation required of you in a timely manner, or if you miss an in-person interview.
  • If you have a criminal background or you’re on a travel watchlist for suspected terrorists.

However, it’s highly unlikely that the application will be rejected if you don’t fall into any of the previously mentioned categories. And even if that happens, you can still apply for a Schengen visa from the US.

How far in advance do US citizens need to apply for an ETIAS?

It’s recommended to apply for an ETIAS at least 96 hs before departure. However, in case there’s any extra documentation required or another inconvenience, the safest thing would be to apply 15 days before traveling.

What is the cost of an ETIAS for US citizens?

The cost to apply for an ETIAS is €7, almost $8. US citizens can pay the fees with credit or debit card. 

It’s important to note that underage travelers and people older than 70 years old will be able to receive their ETIAS for free.