Starting next year, inbound travelers to EU countries will be required to pay a fee as part of the bloc’s new visa waiver program called European Travel Informational and Authorization System (ETIAS).
The program, which had been floated as far back as 2016, will require all non-Europeans, including those in the United Kingdom, United States, and Canada, to obtain an electronic travel permit ahead of arrival. The requirement extends to all travelers who do not need a visa prior to travel.
The permit will cost each applicant 7 euros (around $7.40 US or $9.55 CAD) and will be valid for travel to Europe for three years.
A website for ETIAS says that the process shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes and that 95% of applicants will get approved within minutes. Travelers will only need a passport in order to apply (along with a credit card or debit card to submit the payment) and no biometric data will be collected during the process.
According to the ETIAS website, the program “will allow the European Union to determine the eligibility of citizens from the visa waiver countries or ETIAS eligible countries. Applicants will have to complete an ETIAS registration before traveling to Europe, and the information provided will be pre-screened to detect security, health, or migration risks.”
If an application is refused, travelers may be asked to provide additional documentation, which they will have to do within 96 hours. In cases where an application is fully denied, they will have the right to appeal.
The U.S. requires a similar procedure to be completed as part of its Visa Waiver Program. The U.S. version, called Electronic System for Travel Authorization or ESTA, is required for anyone boarding a plane or vessel bound for the U.S. According to Homeland Security, “In most instances, ESTA applicants will receive real-time notification on the disposition of their application to travel to the United States.”
The ESTA costs applicants $21 US.