Come 2021 and US passport holders will not be able to visit or travel through the Schengen zone of Europe without undergoing a pre-screening and registration process. Travelers from the visa-free countries including the United States will require authorization from the European Union, as part of an enhanced security mechanism, to travel to or transit through any of the 26 European Schengen countries, starting in 2021.
Currently, US passport holders and the nationals of other visa-free countries like Canada, Australia and Singapore can travel to or through the Schengen countries of Europe, without any prior screening or registration, for up to 90 days. The visa-free travelers can move between the 26 Schengen countries, including Germany, Greece, France, Italy and Spain, having no internal border.
Announced in 2018, the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) will help the Schengen countries mitigate security and migration risks associated with foreign nationals’ visa-free access to the European Union. US passport holders will be required to apply for the ETIAS authorization and pay a service of $8 per traveler before flying to a Schengen country in Europe.
It means that you will be denied boarding flights from USA to India or some other destination via the European Schengen area, without the ETIAS authorization, starting in 2021. The same will apply to Australian, Canadian and Singapore passport holders traveling to India via a European Schengen country.
Is ETIAS Authorization a visa to Schengen countries?
The European Union unambiguously announced that ETIAS authorization is not a visa for travelers from the visa-free countries. It should not be mistaken for a Schengen visa either. Americans, Australians, Canadians, Mexicans, Singaporeans and the nationals of other visa-free countries will have to neither visit a consulate nor file an application with fingerprinting. Filing an application online for the ETIAS travel authorization will require them to furnish lesser information than Schengen visa applicants. The ETIAS registration does not have visa-like obligations.
How to apply for ETIAS Authorization in 2021?
Though not as lengthy and elaborate as the Schengen visa application process, the ETIAS travel application online will be completed in 10 minutes. Over 95% of applications will be approved in no time, according to the European Commission.
However, you will have to furnish your personal details (name, date of birth, etc.) and passport information. You will also be required to answer questions about your health, criminal record, European immigration history, etc. in the ETIAS authorization application form.
The details provided in the form will be checked across various databases for verification. If the application is not flagged for manual investigation, the verification will be done within minutes. If the application is rejected, a reason as to why will be furnished to you.
All you need to apply for the ETIAS travel authorization are a valid passport, a valid email address, and a valid debit or credit card. The ETIAS authorization is free for individuals under the age of 18 and valid for three years, irrespective of an applicant’s age.
“The ETIAS authorization is a necessary pre-travel screening just like the US ESTA, in order to improve detection of potential security threats, illegal migration, human trafficking and other criminal activities,” said the chief customer relations officer of IndianEagle.com, a leading international travel booking organization.