Beginning in 2021, U.S. citizens, as well those from other visa-free countries, will have to take an additional step before traveling to the 26 countries in the European Union’s Schengen Area.

Currently, U.S. citizens visiting these countries need a valid passport for stays up to 90 days.

In 2021, U.S. travelers visiting countries that are members of the Schengen Border Agreement, which includes France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland, will need to complete an online application using the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS).

The application will need to be done at least four days prior to travel and will include fee of seven Euros (about $8 at the time of publication).

How does this impact event planners? You'll want to make sure your attendees are aware of the new rules and encourage them to complete the ETIAS application well ahead of time.

European Union (EU) government authorities are not referring to this new requirement as a visa, but rather additional documentation to “strengthen security checks on those persons who travel visa-free to the EU,” according to the European Commission’s fact sheet.

Here are five main takeaways from the EU travel requirement:

  1. No changes for U.S. citizens traveling to Europe until 2021.
  2. This new, additional step for authorization for U.S. citizens traveling to the EU’s Schengen Area countries is NOT considered a visa.
  3. The application will be done online and according to the European Commission, will take under 10 minutes, cost seven Euros and in 95% of the cases, applicants will be approved within minutes.
  4. Applications must be complete at least four days before travel to countries that are members of the Schengen Border Agreement.
  5. The reasoning behind this requirement, according to the European Commission, is to further security checks on those traveling from visa-free countries.

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