Europe is the world’s most visited continent. Each year millions of travelers visit countries like France, Germany, Italy, and Spain to admire the beautiful architecture, sample delicious cuisine, and explore the stunning museums found there.

Currently, if you’re traveling to Europe from America or 60 other countries you don’t need a tourist visa to visit most countries, particularly those in the Schengen area. But, that will change come 2021.

From January 1, 2021, all travelers to Europe’s Schengen Zone will have to register with the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). Failure to do so could see you denied entry at your point of entry into Europe.

According to the European Union, ETIAS is aimed at strengthening its borders. In a statement issued on the new travel authorization program they said, “By requiring visitors to register, the EU will be able to identify any possible threats or risks associated with travelers coming into these countries before they arrive.”

I know applying for travel documentation can be a bumper, but don’t worry getting an ETIAS will be a simple process.

Which Countries Will You Have To Apply For ETIAS Before You Travel?

As I started at the start of this article, if you’re traveling to any country within the Schengen Zone you’ll need to get this travel document. Currently Schengen countries are Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Austria, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Italy, Hungary, Iceland, Greece, Liechtenstein, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia, Spain, Slovenia, Poland, Portugal, Lithuania, Malta, Norway, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Slovakia, Vatican City, San Marino and Monaco.

If you travel to countries that are not part of the Schengen Zone, mostly in Eastern Europe, such as Bosnia, Georgia, Serbia, Turkey, Belarus, Azerbaijani and Ukraine you will not need an ETIAS.

How to Apply for ETIAS

You will be able to do the application at https://www.etiasvisa.com/ . The process will take a few minutes if you have the necessary documents. What is required includes:

  • A valid passport
  • An email address
  • A debit or credit card to pay the €7.00 charged for the ETIAS. The 7 euros will be paid by persons over the age of 18 only, those below 18 are not charged.

If you have all these you can proceed to fill the ETIAS application form online. Information required in the form will include:

  • Personal details such as your name, date of birth, sex, country of residence, etc.
  • Passport details
  • Health information
  • Criminal record if you have one
  • Any previous European immigration history

Once you submit your application it will be passed through several security databases which include Interpol and EUROPOL. If everything on your application checks out your ETIAS will be sent to you via email in minutes. If your application is denied you’ll be given a reason for the denial.

According to the European Commission, “95% of cases, will result in a positive answer within a few minutes.”

When planning your trip apply for your ETIAS in advance . By doing so you’ll have enough time to deal with any problems that may arise in your application.

You Don’t Have to Reapply Each Time You Go to Europe

Once you get your ETIAS it will be valid for 3years so you can use it to enter Europe multiple times. However, every visit should not exceed 90 days. Also if your passport expires before the 3 years are over you will have to reapply for the travel document.

Where to Travel to in Europe

Now that you know what you’ll need to travel to Europe soon, you can move on to planning your trip. Europe has many wonderful countries you can travel to deciding where to go can be overwhelming. To make it easier for you here is a shortlist of places you should consider visiting on a first time trip to Europe.

France

France has since 1995 been the most visited country in the world. In 2018, the country received over 80 million travelers and it’s easy to see why it gets such a high number of tourists. Its capital city Paris is known to be the most romantic place on the planet where many love birds flock to take in its beautiful sites which include the world-renowned Eiffel Tower.

Other attractions include museums, palaces, wineries, the French Riviera, and Disneyland Paris. If you’re planning your first trip to Europe I highly recommend France be your first stop.

Italy

This country has several amazing cities you can visit to enjoy tasty Italian Cuisine and visit historic ancient sites. These cities include Florence, Milan, Rome, and the Vatican City which has been the home of the Catholic Pope since 1378.

One of the top attractions to see on a trip to Italy is the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Spain

Spain neighbors France so you can easily combine a trip to the two countries during your trip to Europe. From Paris, France a plane flight to Madrid, Spain is just 2 hours. The country is also a hot spot for tourists with millions of them traveling there to enjoy its electric nightlife, beautiful beaches, mouth-watering food, and stunning architecture.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has Europe’s second most visited city after Paris, which is London. In London, a visit to Buckingham Palace is a must for any tourist. Buckingham Palace has been the home of the British monarchy since 1837 and is a delight to see.

Other attractions you’ll like seeing in the UK include the centuries-old castles, churches, and palaces.

Germany

This is another hugely popular European destination with a host of attractions such as Cologne Cathedral, Heidelberg Castle and Leipzig Zoological Garden. If you decide to visit Germany planning your trip around events like Oktoberfest, Berlinale Film Festival and the Cologne Carnival will make it more exciting.

I also like Germany because of its good location which you can use to easily access other countries like Denmark, Poland, France and Switzerland by train, road or air.

Other countries in Europe I recommend you visit include Turkey, Greece, Portugal, and Austria. You’ll love these destinations!