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US Citizens Will Need to Take an Extra Step Before Visiting Europe After 2020

Passport photo
Written by Charlie

Starting in 2021, Americans visiting Europe will need to take a simple, extra step before they can board that flight to Europe. It shouldn’t be a big deal and is just once every 3 years.

The US passport, while not the most powerful passport in the world (Japanese passports have that honor), is pretty good for allowing travel to many places around the world without needing to apply for a visa ahead of time. In fact, the US passport visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 185 countries worldwide.

US Citizens Will Need to Take an Extra Step Before Visiting Europe after 2020

Unfortunately, that is going to change in 2021. At that time, US citizens will need to do a simple application called European Travel Information and Authorization System, or ETIAS. This is very similar (and perhaps being done in reciprocity?) to the ESTA that is required for European passport holders visiting the US. This is not a visa! There are a lot of stories about this over the last 24 hours and there is some panic by people about having to apply for a visa to visit Europe with a US Passport.

Is This a Visa?

No, this is not a visa, you won’t need to mail anything in, you won’t need to go to an Embassy. All this is a simple, extra step that you would take if you were visiting Australia with a US passport. There will be a website where you submit your information, pay the fee (something small, around €7 or so), and then wait for the answer. The answer will likely come within hours though it could take a couple of days.

If there is a denial, the passport holder will have a chance to make an appeal. This system is being setup in a way that will provide a couple of things – a chance to know who is coming before they come, have the information registered about the visitor, and get a little bit of money. 🙂 Of course, that last little bit helps!

When Will This Happen?

This new ETIAS will be valid for 3 years and will be valid for multiple entry.  This new system will be in place January 1, 2021.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • Curious about US Citizens who also hold dual citizenship with a European Country and also hold a 2nd passport from that country. Normally I fly in & out of the US with my US passport….and then use my EU passport for entry and exit in the EU. Most airlines require passport info when booking tickets…hmmm…..better check with my consulate!

    • I am fairly certain that most countries require (but may not necessarily enforce) people to enter the country with the passport for that country, if they are a dual citizen. So, in your case, you could/should use your European passport for entering the EU and your US passport for entering the US. When entering the passport information for the ticket, you would use the passport info for the country you are going to. If it is a roundtrip, you could always just show the passport at checkin so you don’t have to have that passport info for the whole trip.

  • I’m glad some countries have back bone enough to look out for themselves—I’m sure some how some idiots will find a way to call the thing “racist”–TOUGH! There’s a lot of bad people out there–who are different races and religions and no hearts—-we need to take a stand and if this is what we have to do—GOOD!

    • I personally don’t mind this new step at all (I have a European permit of stay so it doesn’t apply to me anyway 😉 ). I think it will be good for them to know who is entering ahead of time, especially in situations where tickets are bought last minute (I have bought tickets before that were for departure for a different country in just 6 hours – that isn’t a big lead time if I was someone who should be of concern).