Thursday, June 13, 2024

Europe Postpones Tourist Fee Until 2025

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The European Commission has once again delayed the start of a travel authorization fee to enter Europe until at least 2025.

The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (or ETIAS) will now go into effect no earlier than mid-2025, according to the government’s official site for the program. The postponement was approved by the EU’s Justice and Home Affairs Council on Friday.

Alessandra Amodio/Travel + Leisure

“The new roadmap for the delivery of the new IT architecture foresees… that ETIAS will be ready to enter into operation in Spring 2025,” the Justice and Home Affairs Council said in a statement.

The ETIAS fee was initially supposed to be operational in 2021 but was first delayed until November 2023 and delayed again to the start of 2024 before this latest postponement. 

The fee, which will cost €7 ($7.44), will be required for travelers from visa-exempt countries, including the United States, to enter 30 different European countries. The fee will be valid for three years or until the expiration date of someone’s travel document.

Travelers who are under 18 years old or older than 70 must still apply for the authorization but will be exempt from paying.

In addition to ETIAS, dozens of European countries will introduce a new Entry/Exit System (EES) next year, which will replace passport stamps with a high-tech scanning process. The EU’s Justice and Home Affairs Council said that system will “be ready to enter into operation in Autumn 2024.”

Europe is not alone in launching a travel authorization fee. The United Kingdom has been rolling out a similar Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), which will eventually require all visa-free foreign visitors, including those from the U.S., to apply online in advance of coming. The UK is implementing the program in phases as part of the country’s effort to fully digitize its borders by 2025.

The U.S. also has its own authorization for foreign visitors, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). The program, which costs $21, is available to travelers from countries that are part of the Visa Waiver Program.

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