Americans who want to travel to 26 European nations will have to register and receive a travel authorization before visiting, the European Commission announced today.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, Americans who want to visit a large swath of Europe — including nations from Portugal and Greece to Iceland and Norway — will have to register through a system called the European Travel Information and Authorization System no matter how long they plan to stay.
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Once issued, the permit — which the commission insists is not a visa — will be good for three years. The commission had considered instituting a visa requirement for Americans, but ultimately decided against it in 2017.
The new requirements cover a zone known as the “Schengen” area where countries have abolished most of their mutual border controls as part an effort to foster European unity. It includes 22 nations in the European Union but does not include countries such as the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The European Commission said the registration system was “created to identify any security or irregular migratory risks posed by visa-exempt visitors travelling to the Schengen area, whilst at the same time facilitate crossing borders for the vast majority of travellers who do not pose such risks.”
The move comes amid continued worries about terrorist attacks and tensions between the Trump administration and officials in Europe, who objected two years ago to a U.S. proposal to ban laptops from the cabins of airlines flying to the United States.