Before you know it, going to Europe won’t be quite as easy as showing your passport at the airport.
Starting in 2024, the European Union (EU) will require citizens of 60 different countries to get pre-approval through the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) if they want to cross its borders.
As the EU explains it, the process is pretty simple. An applicant must submit travel documentation – typically, a passport – along with the following:
Personal information including your name(s), when and where you were born, nationality, home address, parents’ first names, email address and phone number;
How much education you’ve completed;
Your current occupation;
What EU countries you’ll be traveling to;
Details about any criminal convictions, any past travels to war or conflict zones, and whether you have recently been subject of a decision requiring you to leave the territory of any country
Applicants will also have to fork over $8 as part of the process. Applicants who are under 18 or above 70 years of age are exempt from payment.
Hurry up and wait?
The EU’s announcement is pretty clear as to its intentions, but the announcement failed to specify when in 2024 this requirement will begin. Could be January, could be August -- who knows at this point?
But, like many new government processes, travelers should expect some fits and starts. The EU said its best advice is for visitors to apply “well in advance” just to be safe.
It said that most applications should be processed within a matter of minutes and responded to within four days, but some could take much longer. That could be as much as 14 days if an applicant is requested to provide additional information or documentation, or up to 30 days if they are invited to an interview.
Once you jump through those hoops and authorization is rubber stamped, however, you’re set for three years or until your passport expires.
In the meantime, U.S. passport processing times continue to lag
Since going on record in March about the trainwreck the State Department admitted it was experiencing processing passport applications, the department has gone mum.
However, a nudge from ThePointsGuy got an agency representative to take that question mark off its page for the moment. The officials said that, as of July, passport applicants can expect routine passport service to take anywhere from 10 to 13 weeks, expedited service seven to nine weeks, plus two more weeks for processing and mailing the passport to the applicant.
"We are working hard to get back to our pre-pandemic processing times by the end of... 2023 [by] increasing hiring and training, authorizing overtime, and investing in automation and other technologies," the State Department official said.
"We are also working to improve our communications with the public so that U.S. citizens apply earlier and understand the passport application process."