Starting in early 2024, preparing to travel to Italy on a non-European Union passport will require an extra step. Americans will still be able to travel any of the Schengen countries including Italy to stay for up to 90 days in a 180 day period without a visa, but they must obtain the European Travel Information Authorisation System (ETIAS) visa waiver online first. The waiver is intended for tourism, business and transit in the Schengen area.
The application will take about 10 minutes to complete and is available at here. You need a passport that will be valid for at least three months after your intended stay, a debit or credit card to pay for the visa waiver fee and an email address to receive pertinent information on your application status. You will also need to provide personal information including name and place of birth, contact information, travel plans and the expected country of entry to the Schengen area. Other information on criminal records or health records might also be requested.
The processing fee for people between 18 and 70 is seven euros. Anyone outside this age range is exempt from the fee, but still must obtain the ETIAS waiver. A decision is usually reached within 96 hours. In the rare case additional information is required, it can take up to four weeks for a decision, so plan ahead.
Once approved, you will be notified via email. Should your application be refused, you will receive an email with an explanation and justification for the refusal and information on how to appeal the decision. Approval rates for applications are expected to be around 95%. Please remember that the visa waiver does not guarantee entry into Italy or other Schengen countries. Border control officers make the final decision on entry.
The approved visa waiver should be printed and brought with you on your trip to present at border control. You will not be permitted to board a plane, ferry, or coach without a valid ETIAS. An approved ETIAS visa waiver will be valid for three years or until your passport expires.
The ETIAS visa waiver will make it easy to travel to other Schengen countries, supposedly easing border control lines and waits at airports and consulates for travelers. The streamlined system will strengthen border control and grant authorities better control of foreigners crossing their borders. — Danielle Abbazia