The End of Visa-Free Travel: U.S. Citizens to Require Visa for Europe from 2024


Remember the days when U.S. citizens could traverse nearly all European Union countries without more than a passport to present at the border? Such liberty is slated to end soon. From early 2024, an online application, fee payment, and a security check will be required for Americans and citizens of 62 other countries to visit the EU’s Schengen Area.

The Emergence of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS)

According to a report published by Reason, ETIAS, a grim-sounding acronym, represents the EU’s response to the U.S.’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), implemented since 2009. The forthcoming ETIAS will cost 7 euros per application and may take up to two weeks for processing.

U.S. Travel Restrictions: A Historical Perspective

U.S. passports have enjoyed global acceptance due to the nation’s economic influence and its role in reducing international travel barriers. However, this trend began to fade post-Cold War, with the U.S. escalating its restrictions, first in response to the 9/11 terror attacks and later extending these limitations further.

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Implications for Visa Waiver Country Citizens

The report noted that by 2015, the U.S. had excluded dual nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria and certain visitors to these countries from its Visa Waiver program. Additional nations, including North Korea and Cuba, were added to the list in 2019 and 2022, respectively. These restrictions have caused Europeans to face unexpected difficulties when planning travel to the U.S.

Counterproductive Consequences of Restrictive U.S. Visa Policies

The escalating U.S. restrictions have resulted in peaceful Europeans, willing to contribute economically to the U.S., being deterred by complicated and costly visa processes. This trend is impoverishing America without significantly improving safety.

Potential Retaliation from the EU

The report noted that with visa policies inherently reciprocal, the EU might respond by further modifying its Visa Waiver system for U.S. passport holders. Future targets could be Americans with dual citizenship in disfavored countries or those who have traveled to such countries.

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The Price of Liberty in the Era of Global Biometrics

The trend towards digitized identification and global biometric databases marks a drastic shift from past values of privacy and liberty. Sadly, it is the U.S., once a bastion of resistance against such measures, leading the world towards a reality where one’s global biometric and banking information is merely a government click away.

Learn more in the entire Reason report.


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