Traveling to Europe? Starting in 2022, you’ll need to register first

The effective date of the ETIAS program has been pushed to Jan. 1, 2023.  
Please read the updated article here.

Tourists headed for the Schengen area of Europe, which does not currently require visas for visitors from the U.S., Canada, and many other nations, will be required to register before traveling starting Jan. 1, 2022.  The effective date has been pushed back approximately one year from the original date of early 2021 due to the COVID pandemic and restrictions on international travel.

In mid-2018, the European Parliament voted to finalize the establishment of the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). Its purpose: to “carry out pre-travel screening for security and migration risks of travellers benefiting from visa-free access to the Schengen area,” according to a European Commission news release on the topic.

Staring January 1, 2022, travelers arriving at the EU borders will need to have both a valid passport and an ETIAS authorization, according to

The ETIAS authorization is not a visa, as many news outlets recently misrepresented it. Rather, it is visa waiver program similar to the U.S. Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which is used to screen people in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

Obtaining the ETIAS authorization is expected to be affordable, simple and quick, according to the European Commission.

“Completing the online application should not take more than 10 minutes with automatic approval being given in over 95 percent of cases,” the Commission noted. “Travellers will have to pay a one-off €7 fee (for travellers between 18 and 70 years old) and the authorisation issued will be valid for three years.” It will also be good for an unlimited number of entries during the period of its validity.

ETIAS will cross-check data provided by visa-exempt travelers against the EU information systems for borders, security and migration, including the Schengen Information System (SIS), the Visa Information System (VIS), Eurodac, Europol and Interpol databases. In cases where authorization is refused, the relevant national authority will have to inform the applicant about the decision or seek additional information within 96 hours.

The Schengen area that will be covered by the ETIAS is a made up of 26 countries that agreed to create common entry and exit requirements in order to remove the need for internal borders. As long as Schengen area entry requirements are met, foreign visitors may generally travel freely between participating countries without having to go through border controls.

That said, we had to clear passport control at Amsterdam Schipol Airport in 2019 on our way to Copenhagen, then again on our return visit home. It took less time than some but generally felt like the same experience, so travelers may not immediately feel the benefit.

The dark and medium green countries on the map above are the Schengen countries; the light green countries are European Union (EU) members that are not signatories to the Schengen agreement.

Countries participating in the Schengen Borders Agreement, signed in June 1985 near the town of Schengen, Luxembourg, are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

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Map by Carl Dombek
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