Thursday, June 13, 2024

Americans will need authorization form, not a visa, to travel to Europe in 2024 | Fact check

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The claim: US citizens will need a visa to travel to Europe starting in 2024

An Aug. 15 post (direct link, archive link) on X, formerly Twitter, claims Americans wanting to vacation in a popular destination will soon have to take another step.

“U.S. citizens will need visa to travel to Europe in 2024,” reads the post. 

It was shared more than 10,000 times. Another version of the claim was shared on Facebook.

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Our rating: False

The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), an entry requirement for visa-exempt nationals including U.S. citizens, will go into effect in 2024. The European Commission said it is not a visa and does not have the same obligations as a visa.

Form is inexpensive and typically processed ‘within minutes’

ETIAS is an entry requirement for citizens of visa-exempt countries, including the U.S., who are traveling short-term to any of 30 countries in Europe, including France, Germany, Greece and Italy. 

It’s linked to a traveler’s passport and allows them to enter the country normally for up to 90 days in any 180-day period, according to the European Union. The State Department referred USA TODAY to the EU for information on the new requirement.

The European Commission, the EU‘s executive branch, told USA TODAY the claim that it’s the same as a visa is false. 

“ETIAS is not a visa and does not reintroduce visa-like obligations,” said European Commission spokesperson Anitta Hipper. “There will be no need to go to a consulate to make an application, no biometric data will be collected and no additional documentation will be required beyond a valid travel document.”

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Applications can be submitted online or through an app and are typically processed “within minutes,” according to the EU. The cost is less than $8 and the authorization is valid for up to three years, or until the traveler’s passport expires, whichever comes first. The application system is not yet available, and the start date is expected to be announced by the end of 2023.

“It will not bring any major administrative burden for the travelers, and the whole process will be quick and easy,” Hipper said. 

The EU also says on its website the form is not “equivalent to a residence permit or visa,” and that it only permits travelers to enter a participating country for a short-term stay. Travelers will still be required to have a passport. Travelers who already have visas do not need an ETIAS.

The European Commission gave similar guidance in 2018. The system was proposed to strengthen security checks on people who travel without visas to the EU.

Hipper noted requiring authorization forms for travelers is “nothing new” and that countries including the U.S. have had similar systems in place for “many years now.”

USA TODAY reached out to users who shared the post for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

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