European Visa Travel Waiver for U.S. Citizens

ETIAS Travel Waiver Guide

ETIAS Travel Waiver GuideWe understand that the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) may seem confusing since it has never been part of the travel requirements for U.S. citizens traveling to Europe before. Our guide is your straightforward information resource to help you better understand the ETIAS European visa travel waiver and how it works.

Once the ETIAS waiver system becomes active in January 2021, you will be able to apply for ETIAS using online application.

Tell me again, what is ETIAS?

ETIAS is a European visa travel waiver. The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is an online application system that collects a U.S. Citizen's data to determine their eligibility and provide authorization for them to travel visa-free to Europe's Schengen Travel Zone. With ETIAS approval, you can travel for up to 90 days during a 180-day period.

And with your ETIAS visa travel waiver, you can travel freely throughout the 26 European countries. The ETIAS system prescreens travelers for any potential security issues. Keep in mind, though, the ETIAS visa waiver does not negate your need for a passport. You will need both once the ETIAS authorization system is effective in 2021.

Why did the European Commission create ETIAS?

The European Travel Information and Authorization System was created in response to increased migration issues, increased crime, and threats of terrorism. The European Union (EU) has sought a way to keep borders open while systemically addressing security. The EU Commission adopted ETIAS as a mandate toward the goal of closing the information gap on visa-free travelers. Information collected via ETIAS applications will support a centralized database on visitors that can be shared between countries and agencies including Interpol, EU IntCen, Europol, as well as local law and border enforcement, for enhanced travel and border security.

History of the Schengen Area and the Schengen Travel Zone

The Schengen Agreement is a landmark treaty signed in Schengen, Luxemburg the summer of 1985 by five European Union (EU) Countries; France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands and of course, Luxemburg. The agreement was first inspired by the goal to end intercountry border controls to allow free passage for workers between European Union (EU) countries and states.

Five years later, in 1990, a Convention was signed putting into effect a single uniform visa, collectively aligning immigration procedures, with the inception of a master shared database known as SIS, Schengen Information System. By 2011 most of Europe had moved to open borders, thus creating a visa-free travel zone on the European continent. The member countries of the Schengen Area became the largest region in the world to remove border controls.

The Schengen Area has grown to 26 countries including 22 in the EU and four others; Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. This region has long been a top-rated destination for U.S. tourists. It is projected that more than 12 million Americans will visit the EU this year. Visitors to The Schengen Area from other countries number in the hundreds of millions annually. This ever-increasing influx of travelers demonstrated a need for more thorough screening and data collection process. Safety is the priority that has driven the development of the European Travel Information and Authorization System, which goes into effect on January 1, 2021. The ETIAS visa travel waiver will allow visitors from 60 ETIAS-eligible countries, including the U.S., to travel freely to and through The Schengen Zone.

Find out if you qualify for an ETIAS here.