In the past, all that’s been required for a jaunt to Europe is your passport, with that delightful police-lineup photo that looks like you’re fresh from a night out with Charlie Sheen.
But starting January 1st, 2021, Europe will require Americans and other foreigners to take an extra step prior to arriving on the continent. Note that this new requirement is specific to the countries in the European Union, a list of which can be found HERE, but these are, of course, the countries most of us visit.
This new requirement may or may NOT include the U.K., which as of this writing is still acting like a dude who can’t commit.
It’s called the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), designed as a new security check. Fortunately, much of the information you’ll be providing is stuff you already gave your airline, so they won’t need your blood type or your Google password. And it’s very simple to be approved.
You just apply online – the application page is not up yet – and pay a fee of 7 Euro (less than $8 at this writing).The application should take less than 10 minutes, and you should be approved within minutes (much longer, one can assume, if you’re shady). The only item you’ll need handy is your passport.
Although everyone, regardless of age, is required to have a waiver, those under 18 or over 70 are exempt from the fee. So, if you’re dewy and fresh, or not-as-dewy but wise, it won’t cost you a penny.
You could wing it and apply as you’re on the way to the airport, but seriously, don’t. Since government bureaucracies have never exactly excelled at the interweb (I’m talking to you, DMV), and since you never know if your personal information could have been co-mingled with that guy who robbed a bank (yes, this actually happened to me years ago), do it a few weeks in advance. You will not even be allowed to board your flight without it.
Here’s a handy guide: