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Watch Out for This Big Change to European Travel in 2023 – The Motley Fool

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by Brittney Myers | Published on Dec. 23, 2022
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Within certain traveler circles, passports get ranked by how powerful they are. The measure? How many countries you can visit that won’t require a visa. U.S. passports tend to rank fairly highly as holders can head visa-free to 186 destinations.
Starting next year, however, there will be an extra hoop to jump through (and a new fee to pay) for at least 26 of those destinations. That’s when we’ll see the launch of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS).
ETIAS was announced back in 2016, and is finally going into effect in 2023. Under the new rules, travelers from “third-countries” — countries whose citizens don’t need a Schengen Visa — will be required to apply for an ETIAS before they can enter the Schengen zone.

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But no, this isn’t a visa. In fact, it’s almost the opposite: a visa waiver.
If this sounds familiar, that’s because it already exists in both the U.S. and Canada. In the U.S., travelers from a Visa Waiver Program country must apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). Canada has the same rules for their eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization).
It’s hoped that the ETIAS will help improve border efficiency and reduce border wait times. It’s also intended to help E.U. immigration authorities better spot security threats and immigration issues. Oh, and funding — did we not mention the fee?
An ETIAS application will come with a 7 euro fee (that’s about $7.40 in USD right now), though it will be free for children under 18 and seniors over the age of 70. (For the curious, the U.S. ESTA comes with a $21 fee.)
If you have a trip planned for next year — perhaps because you put your travel rewards cards to good use — you’ll need to add an ETIAS application to your list. But don’t worry, it shouldn’t take very long. U.S. passport holders can apply for an ETIAS online, and it’s estimated the application will take about 20 minutes to complete.
The information you’ll need to provide includes all the standard identifying information — name, address, birthdate, etc. — as well as your passport information and the country you intend to visit first. You’ll also need to provide an email address and telephone number.
In addition to the typical information, your application will require you to answer ETIAS “background and eligibility questions.” These cover things like medical conditions, criminal history, and previous immigration history. (And yes, they’re comparable to the questions asked by similar programs like ESTA.)
Most applications should be processed within minutes. However, it’s suggested that you fill out your ETIAS application at least 72 hours before your trip to account for any potential issues.
Your ETIAS application will either be approved or denied. If it’s not approved, you can appeal, but if that doesn’t work out you will likely need to apply for a visa to enter the Schengen countries.
You only need to apply for the ETIAS once per trip, then you can freely move about the Schengen zone as you normally would. In other words, you won’t need a different ETIAS for each Schengen country you plan to visit in one trip.
Turning your credit card rewards into free travel is one of the best parts of the game. And Europe is a hugely popular destination for all kinds of travel hackers. While the ETIAS launch is yet another thing to add to your travel checklist, it’s not as bad as it could be. Folks from many countries can still enjoy their European vacation visa-free — there’s just one more step to the process.
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Brittney started her writing career in the world of science, putting her physics degree to good use. Her journey into finance started with building her personal credit, but soon grew into a borderline obsession with credit cards and travel rewards. For the last 7 years, she has enjoyed the ability to share her expertise with readers, as well as the opportunity to interview companies and individuals making an impact on our financial lives. She wholly believe most problems can be solved with the right research — and a good spreadsheet — and she specializes in translating complex financial topics into actionable advice to help educate and empower readers.
We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.
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