Taking a trip abroad is one of life’s great adventures. Experiencing different locales, tasting new foods, immersing in local culture – if one travels with the intent to learn, one truly comes back changed, with a bigger worldview.
But getting there requires planning. Not just the plane, the ship, the hotels, but the documents required to leave the USA and enter a new country. Even those seasoned, savvy travelers need to pay attention to the latest.
With terrorism and immigration in the headlines throughout the world, the Schengen Agreement is finding itself in the spotlight.
Backstory – The Schengen Agreement, originally drafted in 1985, now covers 26 European countries who agreed to abolish their internal borders for freer travel and movement of both citizens and visitors. This makes taking a European trip so much easier – with 26 countries, a passport covers you for your traveler ID needs. (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, and Switzerland) For typical travel – vacation length, student study abroad, etc, three months or less – a VISA is not required.
But beginning January 1, 2021, all Americans traveling to a Schengen country will need to be registered in the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). While this is not a visa, it is an added layer of authentication in an increasingly complex world. “The ETIAS authorization is not a visa. Nationals of visa liberalization countries will continue to travel the EU without a visa but will simply be required to obtain a travel authorization via ETIAS prior to their travel… An ETIAS travel authorization does not reintroduce visa-like obligations. There is no need to go to a consulate to make an application, no biometric data is collected, and significantly less information is gathered than during a visa application procedure.”
For planning purposes and registering, your passport must be valid for three months beyond your travel time. You will need a valid email address and a credit card to pay the $8 per person fee. Once the system goes live, the process should only take minutes, and officials state that 95% of people should be approved within ten minutes of submission. They stress you will need to do this at least 72 hours prior to travel. Once approved, you will print out the form and carry it with you on your travels. It is good for three years from the date of approval meaning you can come and go as many times as you want during those 36 months, as long as you do not exceed the 90 day limit before requiring a visa.
Safe and enjoyable travels begin with knowing the requirements as far ahead as possible. Read up on your intended destinations and their regulations HERE.
And as always, the details are what having a travel professional on your side is all about. Archer Luxury Travel can help get all your docs in a row, as it were. Quack.