These days, with flight deals posted early, many people plan travel to France a good year in advance.
And starting in early 2024, ETIAS, the new European Travel Information and Authorization System, will be implemented and required to enter France as well as the neighboring countries of the Schengen area –Austria, Belgium, Croatia, The Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Also, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City will also implement the ETIAS entry system.
First discussed in 2016 when Jean-Claude Juncker was President of the European Commission, the ETIAS has been in the EU’s plans for a while now. Very similar to its American cousin, the “ESTA,” the official reasoning for the ETIAS implementation is security, as the EU aims to ensure safe travel within its borders. Since 2016, its implementation has been postponed a few times. But now, the European Union has doubled down and announced it will be operational in early 2024. “Starting from 2024, some 1.4 billion people from over 60 visa-exempt countries are required to have a travel authorization to enter most European countries” reads the EU website. This includes U.S. travelers.
This new entry requirement will apply to citizens of countries who do not currently require a visa for stays shorter than 90 days (some exceptions are explained here). So, if you are an American traveler with no particular ties to an EU country and visiting a country of that Schengen area (see map, above) you will be required to apply to an ETIAS. Please note however that this travel authorization is not a visa, so if you want to stay more than 90 days and/or to work and make money in the EU, you will need to apply for a visa.
According to the EU website dedicated to ETIAS implementation, most applications should be approved within minutes of submitting and, at the latest, 96 hours later. However, some applications may require additional information or documentation, and some may even require an interview which could delay the application process by about a month. So as soon as the website opens and you have your dates of travel, it may be a good idea to submit your ETIAS application.
While we are still a few months away from the official implementation of ETIAS, now is a good time to check on your passport expiration date. Ideally, you want at least 3 months of validity left on your passport. The EU warns that the ETIAS system will not block you from obtaining a travel authorization with less than 3 months left on your passport, but that the border patrol will most likely turn you away. So it is your responsibility to make sure your passport is valid!
Are you traveling as a family? Great! But you will still have to submit an ETIAS application for each family member. The cost of the application is 7 euros per person, which is roughly $7.40 in US dollars and 6.15 GBP. However, anyone under 18 or over 70, as well as family members of EU citizens (as long as you can provide supporting documentation as proof of relationship) will be exempt from the application fees.
You may fill out your application by yourself or authorize someone else to do it for you (like a travel agent, for example). You will need a valid passport and to submit personal information including your identity, citizenship, address of residency and contact information, as well as work occupation and education. There will also be questions about every traveler’s criminal background.
The ETIAS travel authorization will be valid for 3 years or until passport expires whichever comes first. If your travel document changes (e.g. new name, new expiration date, new address, etc.), then you will need a new ETIAS as your travel authorization will be directly linked to your passport.
The good news is that you can peacefully travel to Europe this summer without having to worry about this new travel requirement. But be ready to add this extra step to your trip planning as soon as 2024 arrives.
Anne-Fleur Andrle is a Colorado-based freelance writer and podcast producer. She writes regularly for Frenchly and hosts and produces a French Morning show called French Expat, where she documents the journeys of French-speaking expats around the world. She has a weekly curated newsletter with podcasts that she thinks are not to miss.