US citizens can now travel to Europe for up to 90 days without a visa. But from 2021 American travelers will need a new type of visa valid for 3 years — a European Travel Information and Authorization System or ETIAS — to visit the European Schengen Area.
To obtain the Europe Visa for Americans, US citizens will need to have a valid passport, a credit or debit card and an email account. These are the main ETIAS requirements for US citizens which each applicant must have on hand when applying. Without the right travel document the applicant could be denied access.
US citizens can apply online for an ETIAS by completing an online ETIAS registration. The enrollment will be a quick and simple process, similar to the ESTA for eligible citizens traveling to the US. Applicants will need to fill out an online form with their contact details and passport information as well as answer some basic security questions.
This process allows European immigration and customs authorities to pre-screen all travelers and confirm their status before permitting them entry or even to board a flight thus improving security measures throughout the Schengen area.
The passport used must be valid for 3 months beyond the period of intended stay of each person and it is possible that passports over 10 years old may not be accepted as a valid travel document.
The United States has been in a dispute with the EU’s European Parliament and European Commission over visas for Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland, Romania and Cyprus. Travelers in those five countries are the only EU nations that the US requires to apply for a visa.
In 2016, the European Commission first released a report calling for the U.S. to grant the same visa-free status to those five countries as the other 23 EU nations in exchange for U.S. citizens maintaining the same visa-free status in the Schengen Area. EU rules require equal treatment for all member states.
The report also indicated, however, that the commission wanted to wait until after President Trump was in office to “push for full visa reciprocity.”
In June 2018, the Parliament voted in favor of the Commission imposing visas on US citizens.