US citizens will need to register to visit Europe's Schengen area starting from 2021

US citizens will need to register to visit Europe's Schengen area starting from 2021
Visiting Europe will become a little more complicated for US citizens and other visa-free travelers – starting from 2021, they will need additional authorization before crossing the pond.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of the article erroneously referred to ETIAS as a "visa." These references have been removed in the updated version. It has also been clarified that ETIAS applies to a number of countries besides the US and was first announced in 2016.

In less than two years, travelers from certain countries outside the EU will be required to apply under European Travel Information and Authorization System, or ETIAS, before entering Europe.
Under the new scheme, first announced in 2016 and ratified in 2018, Americans will have to fill in an online form and pay a fee. The system will allow EU authorities to pre-screen US citizens crossing the Atlantic. Once granted, the permit will last for three years, allowing Americans to make multiple trips to Europe.

The EU says that going through ETIAS will be cheap, costing a fee of €7 (roughly $8); officials also promise that 95 percent of applicants will be granted approval within minutes. Who will make up the remaining 5 percent is unclear, but rejected citizens will be able to appeal the decision.

While looking onerous, the new system is still easier than procedures for obtaining regular visas. The application, for instance, will not require a personal interview or extensive background checks.

For the time being, Americans visiting Europe for less than 90 days enjoy visa-free travels to the border-free Schengen area. And vice versa, EU travelers – except those coming from Cyprus, Poland, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Romania – have to get pre-clearance enrolling in the US Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

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The EU says the new requirements will help shield the continent from modern challenges. “Similar to other countries and regions in the world, Europe has recently decided to improve their security level to avoid any further problems with illegal migration and terrorism,” reads the ETIAS page.

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