European Travels Get Trickier Starting in 2021

BY STEVE DINNEN

You don’t have to cancel any future travel to Europe, but starting in 2021 you’ll have to plan ahead – and get permission to go ashore.

Starting Jan. 1, 2021, Americans (and some other nationals) traveling to any member nations of the European Union will need to secure a visa-like document prior to their arrival. It’s called the European Travel Information and Authorization System – ETIAS – and will be filed online and will be valid for three years. It applies to all travel to 26 member nations (25 once Great Britain exits).

The EU will demand your fingerprints along with information on such things as your education and work experience. Do they really care where we went to high school, or are they just being snoopy? Regardless of what we think, they tell us it’s meant to enhance security. Or it could just be tit-for-tat for the current American demand that citizens of five EU member nations obtain visas before they land on our shores.

Jody Valentine, co-owner of Allied Travel in Johnston, says there’s little cause for concern that an ETIAS will disrupt our lives. Americans traveling to many nations already need full-blown visas, so this is not exactly unusual (though perhaps unexpected). Anybody remember not needing a visa in 2016 when they went to Brazil to watch the Olympics? Or what about China, Russia? Lots of countries do this; the EU is just now joining the club.

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