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ETIAS Tax: Traveling to Europe Will No Longer Be Free

Travel to Europe will soon turn a tad more complicated as a new visa-waiver program launches through the European Union.

by Lark Gould

February 6, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Oxana V Qo / Unsplash

ETIAS, a convenient acronym for European Travel Information and Authorization System, is set to launch this year and will require Americans, among many other nationalities, to apply, pay and then receive documented approval to cross into Schengen countries.

No more wham-bam access to Spain, France, or Denmark at the airport or border crossing. The good news? The rollout set for May 2023 has been pushed to November 2023.

The new layer of travel planning marks a way for the countries in the Schengen region of the European Union to tighten security while collecting helpful revenues.

The Schengen area, with some 27 countries, has been described as the world’s largest visa-free zone. The United Kingdom, no longer a part of the E.U., does not currently participate in charging a visa waiver fee to Americans and, in turn, its citizens must also apply for ETIAS clearance.

Photo: Courtesy of Guillaume Périgois / Unsplash

Other countries, not full members of the Schengen zone (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Lichtenstein, among them), are still opting to participate in the program and collect the tax.

Most Americans have not had trouble passing into these countries and only needed a U.S. passport.

Visa Authorization Fees Not Unusual

While the European Union is completing operations and testing toward its November launch, such visa-waiver, pay-to-enter programs are not unusual. The U.S. has been operating such a program for nationals from 40 different countries – mostly in Europe – since launching Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) in 2009. Those fees run $21. The EU plans to operate ETIAS with a $7 fee.

Applications will be entirely electronic and require filling out a form full of critical information on the official EU site’s ETIAS page. This process should only take minutes, and should see approvals and papers minutes later once payments go through.

However, various elements can make the process longer and harder: taking too long to fill out the application, changing information, offering false information, back-tracking, and other moves that often bring sensitive, government-run systems to a halt.

Information needed will include the following:

  • Personal information, including place of birth, parents’ names, email addresses, and phone number
  • Passport or travel document details
  • Education and occupation information
  • Intended travel destinations and stay locations
  • Any details about any criminal convictions, travels to war zones, and expulsions from countries

ETIAS: Hacks and Cracks

Not surprisingly, at the nearing of this new requirement toward its originally-proposed May 2023 launch date, scammers produced very professional official-looking websites to lure unsuspecting travelers into giving up their sensitive information.

Little has been done to publicize this problem or reign in the perpetrators. And those sites will be found at the top of the SERPs, weighted well above the official site of the EU.

The European Union notes that its official websites are always registered under the “” domain. Other dangerously deceptive sites trying to attract unknowing tourists to apply for ETIAS clearance will show URLs ending in dot com or dot org.

Photo: Courtesy of / Unsplash

As November 2023 looms closer, those travelers with plans to head to Europe will not need this document if they are under 18 years old or older than 70. Once acquired, the approval status lasts for three years and allows an individual to enter the region for up to 90 days within 180 days without a full visa.

Which countries require ETIAS?

  • Austria 
  • Belgium 
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia 
  • Cyprus 
  • Czech Republic 
  • Denmark 
  • Estonia 
  • Finland 
  • France 
  • Germany 
  • Greece 
  • Hungary 
  • Iceland 
  • Italy 
  • Latvia 
  • Liechtenstein 
  • Lithuania 
  • Luxembourg 
  • Malta 
  • Netherlands 
  • Norway 
  • Poland 
  • Portugal 
  • Romania 
  • Slovakia 
  • Slovenia 
  • Spain 
  • Sweden 
  • Switzerland 

At press time, the application function of the official ETIAS website is not operating and not allowing travelers to apply. However, a full nine months ahead of the required document date, there is no rush, and the fee can go for a sconce and coffee instead.