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New Rules for Visiting Europe: What you need to know

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or casual tourist, you’ll likely have one more hoop to jump through for border entry into the Schengen zone — which covers most of Europe — starting Jan 1, 2021: The European Travel Information and Authorization System (or “ETIAS”).

Quick Summary

Starting in 2021, the new rules for visiting the EU will require visitors to
• Complete an online application
• Pay a 7 Euro fee
• Pass a background check
Register at this link to be notified when the system is active

Groan a little, but the bar to comply is low. Just put this on your radar so you won’t get a nasty surprise later.

What’s changing?

In the past, citizens of the United States and many other countries could enjoy a 90 day stay in Europe without any prior approval or red tape.

The new rules for visiting Europe are due to border security concerns. The new system is similar to one the U.S. has followed since 2007.

Currently slated to become effective 1 January 2021, ETIAS will require travelers who qualify for visa-free entry to Schengen countries and several aligned countries and microstates to:

  • Register
  • Pay a small fee (7 Euros)
  • Pass a background check.

This isn’t a visa requirement: The new EU rules don’t require a trip to the consulate, documents, interviews, and the associated delays. (Travelers who don’t qualify for a visa waiver still need to follow regular visa application requirements. This doesn’t change that.)

The European Commission claims approval usually will be granted within 10 minutes and you’ll be notified by email. Hallelujah! Easy, breezy. But don’t forget about ETIAS because if you do, you can be denied boarding by your airline or denied entry at a border.

What do you need to do to comply with the new EU rules?

The EU website has a very clear explanation of the requirements and process of complying with the new EU rules. Bookmark and review the official website for specific requirements of the new EU entry system. Visit this site again before you travel, because some requirements could change prior to final implementation.

Pay attention to the nations that will require ETIAS for entry. The participating nations may not be limited solely to Schengen countries and the impact of Brexit is still evolving. Also, register on the site to be notified when ETIAS is finalized and ready to accept applications.

The Catch

The application process is simple, and most applicants should be approved immediately. But if you’re denied approval, there’s no guarantee the appeals process will be quick or easy.

You’ll need to provide more documentation, and then the Commission has 4 weeks to reconsider its denial. A significant bummer if you had set plans and a short time to adjust! The Commission may flag an applicant due to association with drug use, terrorism, human trafficking, travel to conflict areas, and criminal history.

To apply, everyone is required to answer questions related to these and other security-related categories. If you think you might trigger a flag, apply as soon as the system becomes active to allow time for an appeal or a formal visa application.

Permissions granted under ETIAS are valid for the sooner of 3 years or the expiration of your passport. Of course, regular Schengen stay limits (90 days maximum in each 6 month period for most visitors) still apply.

Pin it!

Headed to Europe? Check out our guide to scoring cheap flights!

When do the new rules go into effect?

The change is scheduled for January 1, 2021

How much does it cost to register?

The cost is 7 euros.

Who needs to follow the new rules?

Anyone visiting the European Union who doesn’t need a visa.

Where do I apply?

Online at

How long will it take?

A speedy 10-minute response time is expected.

Why are there new rules?

Border security concerns prompted the change.

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