By Darren Murph/The Points Guy
May 26, 2019

Visiting Europe is essentially frictionless for US citizens — but beginning in 2021, the process will become a little more demanding. That’s when visitors from the United States, along with dozens of other nations, will be required to complete an online application for something called an ETIAS, from “European Travel Information and Authorization System.” It’s essentially the reciprocal of the ESTA authorization required of EU nationals visiting the US: Not strictly a visa, but a registration.

Once it is implemented, visitors from 60 countries will be eligible to apply for ETIAS online. The system will serve as a pre-screen for travelers entering from visa-waiver countries, and anyone from one of those countries will need to have a valid ETIAS authorization and passport when arriving at any EU member country’s borders.

ETIAS will not require formal interviews, nor any of the rigmarole involved when visiting a nation that requires an actual visa, like for example China. Estimates are that you’ll be able to wrap up the online submission in around 10 minutes, providing your personal details, passport information, date of birth, country of residence and answering a few questions related to criminal history and travel to conflict zones. Approval (or refusal) will be sent via email.

ETIAS will cost 7 euros, or about $7.85 at current rates, and will apply to travelers between 18 and 70 years old. Once obtained, it will “allow its holder to stay in 26 different countries in Europe for a period of up to 90 days in any 180-day period and it is valid for 3 years from the date of issuance or until the expiry date of the passport, whichever comes first,” according to the ETIAS site.

ETIAS does not apply to the United Kingdom, which is not one of the countries in the Schengen area — the group of European Union nations allowing no-controls travel among them. The UK is weeks away from possibly leaving the European Union without a negotiated exit agreement, the so-called “no deal Brexit” that might result in serious disruptions to travel.

This post originally appeared on The Points Guy.

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