Starting in 2021, Americans will need to register to travel to EU

The European Union announced on Friday that American travelers will need registration through  the European Travel Information and Authorization System or ETIAS to visit the European Schengen Area. The Schengen Area is a zone of 26 European countries that do not have internal borders and allow people to move between them freely, including countries like Spain, France, Greece, Germany, Italy and Poland. Currently, US citizens can travel to Europe for up to 90 days without a visa.

To apply for the ETIAS, US citizens will need a valid passport, an email account and a credit or debit card, the EU said. Minors, the website said, will still only need their normal passports to travel after the visas go into effect. The Union said that the ETIAS registration is valid for three years and allows Americans to enter the Schengen Area as many times as necessary.

On the ETIAS website, the European Union said it "has recently decided to improve their security level to avoid any further problems with illegal migration and terrorism." The United States has been in a dispute with the EU's European Parliament and European Commission over visas for Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland, Romania and Cyprus. In 2016, the European Commission first released a report calling for the US to grant the same visa-free status to those five countries as the other 23 EU nations in exchange for US citizens maintaining the same visa-free status in the Schengen Area. EU rules require equal treatment for all member states.

The European Commission said the registration system was "created to identify any security or irregular migratory risks posed by visa-exempt visitors travelling to the Schengen area, whilst at the same time facilitate crossing borders for the vast majority of travellers who do not pose such risks."

The move comes amid continued worries about terrorist attacks and tensions between the Trump administration and officials in Europe, who objected two years ago to a U.S. proposal to ban laptops from the cabins of airlines flying to the United States.

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