The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) was approved in 2016 and has been under development since. The system was scheduled to launch and become an obligatory requirement for all visa-exempt travelers —including US passport holders— from 2021, onwards.
Nevertheless, a representative of the European Commission has confirmed that the ETIAS system has been pushed back until 2022.
This change of plans has been made in order to allow all those involved in the ETIAS to adapt to the new system:
- Travelers that can currently visit the Schengen Zone visa-free, such as Americans
- Schengen Border Control
ETIAS Launch Date
According to an official source from the EU commission, the public launch of the ETIAS has been postponed until the end of 2022.
The European visa waiver system is being implemented with a clear objective of improving global security and safety. ETIAS will have multiple benefits for European nationals, residents, and tourists alike.
Once it is fully operational, US citizens will be able to register online by filling out an ETIAS application form before their trip to Europe.
After it is made publicly available, ETIAS eligible travelers will be granted a grace period of 6 months. During this timeframe, authorities will inform visitors crossing internal Schengen borders about the introduction of the European travel authorization.
Information about the ETIAS will also be distributed in the form of a leaflet to visitors arriving at Schengen borders as well as embassies and consulates of member nations.
At the end of this 6-month period —in which the visa waiver may be optional for travelers—, the ETIAS is expected to become mandatory for US passport holders visiting any of the 26 European Schengen member nations.
ETIAS Mandatory for US Nationals Visiting Europe
EU authorities are considering the implementation of a second grace period before ETIAS for Europe becomes an obligatory entry document for US passport holders visiting the Schengen Area.
During this additional 6-month timeframe American citizens without an ETIAS would be allowed to exceptionally enter Schengen borders once after the end of the first grace period so long as they fulfill the rest of the European entry requirements.
According to the EU representative, ETIAS registration would finally become obligatory for US citizens visiting the Schengen Area in 2023.
This applies to US visitors traveling to Europe for short stays of up to 90 days per 180-day period for any of the following purposes:
- Leisure activities
- Health and medical treatment
- Transit en route to a third-country destination