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New regulations (ETIAS) for Americans traveling to Europe in 2024

Are you currently in the process of organizing a meeting or incentive trip that's set to take place in Europe during the year 2024? Perhaps you're considering the prospect of convening your multinational team at your European headquarters for a significant event. While it's true that citizens of the United States are fortunate enough to enjoy visa-free travel to a substantial number of countries – spanning more than 180 nations – it's important to be aware of a forthcoming development that will impact American travelers intending to visit Europe.

As the year 2024 approaches, the European Union (EU) is gearing up to introduce a series of new regulations that will bring about changes in the way Americans can journey to European destinations. Unlike the current scenario where Americans can freely enter Europe without requiring a visa, these upcoming alterations will mandate a process of obtaining travel authorization for entry into EU member states, the European Union (EU) plans to implement changes requiring authorization in 2024.

So, if you’re attendees are American passport holders, they will have to apply for travel authorization to Europe through the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) before your visit.

What is ETIAS?

ETIAS is not a visa—it’s a visa waiver attached to your travel document, like your passport, for Americans (plus Canadians, Australians, and Kiwis), and the system was set up to enhance security within EU member states within the Schengen region. The idea is that ETIAS will collect data on travelers who (as of 2023) can travel throughout the region without a visa.

According to ETIAS, there are a few drivers that prompted the European Commission to establish the travel authorization system, including:

  1. Deterring potential terrorists while monitoring potential visitors to tighten up security and better protect residents of the EU

  2. Reducing wait times at the border by having a pre-authorization

  3. Improving border efficiency for security personnel by reducing screening time when visitors enter and depart the EU

  4. Increasing funding by providing an additional revenue stream for the EU

How does ETIAS work?

Travelers can visit the ETIAS website or mobile app to complete the application, which should take less than 10 minutes. ETIAS will ask you for information like:

  • Personal details (name, gender, birth date)

  • Contact information (address, email, phone)

  • Travel documentation (passport, country, expiration date)

  • Background information (criminal history, immigration history, drug use)

  • Current occupation

Applicants will pay a €7 fee (about $8 USD) and wait for an email confirming their submission. ETIAS does comprehensive processing, using your identity, travel documents, and background questions to approve or refuse the visa waiver. Thanks to automation, the process typically takes just a few minutes but can take up to 14 days if follow-up is required. Once issued, your ETIAS travel authorization is valid for three years, or until the date your travel documents expire.

Tip: Apply at least a few weeks before your trip to ensure enough processing time, especially if you need to submit more documents or provide follow-up information.

Assuming you’re approved, you’ll receive an email notifying you that you can stay in the countries requiring authorization for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. You must have valid ETIAS authorization with you for the entirety of your trip. If you don’t get approved, you’ll receive an email detailing why and how you can appeal the decision.

Make sure everything on your ETIAS authorization is correct—the spelling of your name, birth date, passport number… everything. If there are errors, you won’t be able to cross borders.

Have more questions?

Whether you’re planning an incentive trip, business meeting or conference abroad, planning and prep are crucial, especially as requirements change. With the ETIAS requirement taking effect in 2024, apply early and have everything you need for a smooth event.

If you have any questions about what ETIAS means for your corporate travel or have questions about working with a managed corporate travel provider, contact us today. We’re happy to help.

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