Potential Challenges for Travelers with Europe’s New Border Entry System

Aside from the COVID-19 epidemic, U.S. travellers have been able for years to hop on a flight to Europe without much thought. There was no need to apply for a visa if you were a U.S. citizen.

All of this will change in January 2024. Travelers from over 60 countries, or 1.4 billion people, who are currently allowed to enter most European countries with no visa will have to apply for permission to visit in advance.

The EU Travel Information & Authorization System (ETIAS) is the name of the visa process. In addition to U.S. citizens, many other countries must now obtain an ETIAS visa prior to visiting the EU. Canada, Israel and New Zealand are among the countries that will need to obtain an ETIAS visa before visiting the EU.

Although experts claim that the visa requirements are simple, and approvals should be swift, the new requirements may cause problems for American travelers unaware of these changes.

Travelers without the ETIAS approval will be denied access to flights heading for the affected European countries. Travelers using ground transportation will be rejected at EU borders.

It will work in a similar way to the ESTA that is required for US visitors. You can apply online, and even get it before you travel. But without it, you won’t have the ability to board a plane,” says Roman Townsend of Belvera Partners. The agency, based in Spain, handles public relations for the travel industry. “I believe that very few people know about this upcoming change, and even fewer could imagine that Canada or the USA would be included.”

Details of the New Visa Program
What exactly is ETIAS? According to the website of this program, ETIAS travel authorization is “an entry requirement for nationals who are not required to obtain a visa and travel to…30 European countries.”

Austria, Belgium Croatia, France Germany Greece Italy Spain Sweden and Switzerland are some of the countries which will need the new visa. Iceland, Hungary and Denmark are also included in the new measure. ETIAS’ website contains a list of all 30 participating countries.

According to the ETIAS site, travelers with a valid ETIAS can visit European countries listed on the list “for short-term stay – usually for up to ninety days in a 180-day period.”

ETIAS Visas can be purchased through the ETIAS Mobile Application or via the official website of the program. The cost of the application is 7 Euros. This is less than $8.

The website for visas also warns that ETIAS travel authorization is not a guarantee of entry into a particular country. The website states that a border guard may ask for your passport or other documents to verify you have met the entry requirements.

Ramifications of Travel for Travelers and Travel Industry
The biggest hiccup from the new program could be that travelers heading to Europe without the newly-required visa will not have it in place by 2024. As the implementation of the program approaches, travel advisors and the travel industry will be required to educate travelers.

Simon Goddard is the chief operating officer of Vibe, a travel technology company that provides search and booking services.

Experts say that if travelers don’t have the visas they need in advance, it could even cause a ripple in the travel industry, resulting in cancellations and refund requests.

Katie Crowe, an agent for travel insurer Battleface, says that despite the logistical challenges, new visa requirements could also have some positive effects on the travel industry. Crowe says that many visa processes require proofs of insurance. This could be a big boon for travel insurers.

Crowe warns, however, that “such travellers are likely to choose basic or minimal insurance policies just to obtain their visa. Therefore, insurers will need to work harder to market more relevant policies at competitive prices instead of rigid policies that don’t fit all travelers and that they do not understand.

Should Travelers be concerned?
Travel advisors suggest that the ETIAS Visa is not a cause for concern. It will only add another logistical step to U.S. passport-holders’ trip to Europe.

Jesse Morris of We Book Travel LLC, the owner, emphasized this point. Once obtained, the visa is valid for three years. It’s an obstacle that travelers will have to face only periodically.

Morris says that while this is a new thing for Americans, it’s similar to what some Caribbean islands require to fill out an online application. For example, the Dominican Republic electronic ticket.

“We had to learn to adapt to this with Covid Travel and it reinforces that you need to work with a travel agent to provide guidance on these matters,” he says.

Tammy Levent is the CEO of Elite Travel and says that the real test for the new program will be how quickly visas are issued once a request has been made.

“If you’re going to have to wait and get your passport weeks in advance, and that requires advance documentation such as yours, then it is one of those things where you need to do. Levent says that Americans will become impatient if they have to go through so many channels.






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