United States – Starting 2021, New Travel Requirements for Americans Visiting Europe

United States – Starting 2021, New Travel Requirements

This report covers the need for U.S. nationals traveling to Europe starting in 2021 to have an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) visa waiver.





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Recent press reports have helped to raise awareness about the fact that U.S. citizens traveling to Europe will need to apply for an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) visa waiver beginning 2021.1  This is in line with Europe’s initiative to improve security to reduce problems with illegal migration and terrorism.  (There is a prior report on ETIAS in GMS Flash Alert 2018-146, November 8, 2018.) 


At present, there is no European Union (EU) visa waiver requirement for U.S. citizens travelling to countries in the Schengen Zone for fewer than 90 days.  Effective 2021, all U.S. citizens traveling to a European Schengen-zone country2 will need to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver, which will be valid for three years.

Immigration counsel, global mobility managers in charge of organizing the travel of their outbound U.S. employees, and travelers themselves will therefore soon be subject to new practices and policies and should be taking appropriate steps to prepare and be in compliance.  Furthermore, the need for an ETIAS visa waiver will add to the costs of travel to Europe. 


Last year, the EU created a new visa waiver program, ETIAS, to protect and strengthen its borders.3  The ETIAS travel authorization is similar to other visa waiver programs such as the U.S. ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization).4  The ETIAS program for Europe grants travelers authorization to visit the 26 member countries that comprise the Schengen Zone.

Currently, nationals of 60 named countries are eligible to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver when visiting the Schengen Zone.

U.S. citizens will need to apply online by completing an ETIAS registration form.  The fee for the ETIAS visa waiver will be paid in advance through the secure online portal via credit or debit card and travelers will need to provide passport details, physical address, phone number, and e-mail address.  Accordingly, all applicants will need to have a valid passport, a credit or debit card, and an e-mail account.

KPMG LLP Law in Canada will endeavor to keep readers informed of developments as and when they occur.  


1  For example, see L. Bever, “Soon, Americans will have to take an extra step to travel to some European countries“ in The Washington Post online (March 9, 2019) by clicking here.  Also, see: See C. Rizzo, “Americans Will Need to Register to Visit Europe Starting in 2021 — Here’s What We Know,” Travel & Leisure online (March 11, 2019) by clicking here

For additional information, “ETIAS Visa Waiver for Americans,” click here.

2  For more information on travelling in Europe and the Schengen Zone, see the web page “U.S. Travelers in Europe” on the U.S. Department of State website.

3  For prior coverage, see GMS Flash Alert 2018-146 (November 8, 2018). 

4  For more on ESTA, see the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.

* Please note that KPMG LLP (U.S.) does not provide any immigration services.  However, KPMG Law LLP in Canada can assist clients with U.S. immigration matters.   


The information contained in this newsletter was submitted by the KPMG International member firm in Canada.

© 2023 KPMG LLP, a Canadian limited liability partnership and a member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. All rights reserved.

GMS Flash Alert is a Global Mobility Services publication of the KPMG LLP Washington National Tax practice. The KPMG name and logo are trademarks used under license by the independent member firms of the KPMG global organization. KPMG International Limited is a private English company limited by guarantee and does not provide services to clients. No member firm has any authority to obligate or bind KPMG International or any other member firm vis-à-vis third parties, nor does KPMG International have any such authority to obligate or bind any member firm. The information contained herein is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavor to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act on such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation.

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