EU Travel Authorization Americans Visa
Earlier this week the European Union announced details of an authorization program that Americans will need to participate in so they can travel to the EU beginning in 2021. Many news sites and blogs including this one called this authorization a visa. Then the trolls descended down and began harassing us.
Emails and comments rolled in, all saying this is not a visa. Most people pointed out that the EU doesn’t consider this a visa. Here is what the EU says on their website about it:
The ETIAS authorisation is not a visa. Nationals of visa liberalisation countries will continue to travel the EU without a visa but will simply be required to obtain a travel authorisation via ETIAS prior to their travel. ETIAS will be a simple, fast and visitor-friendly system, which will, in more than 95% of cases, result in a positive answer within a few minutes.
Not A Visa?!?
Wow they even put “not a visa” in bold. They must really want to convince us that this is not a visa. But why? Well, tourism is a big industry and one FACT is CLEAR. Right now Americans do not need to do anything to travel to the EU, but this new system adds a hoop to jump through. And my guess is the EU is afraid of this new system hurting tourism.
So is this a visa? Well, here is a definition of visa:
An official authorization appended to a passport, permitting entry into and travel within a particular country or region subject to certain conditions, such as length of time and purpose of the visit.
Let’s break that down a bit:
- Is this new authorization tied to a passport? Yes!
- Does it permit entry to the EU? Yes it does.
- Is the authorization conditional in ways? Yes it is!
In other words, this is a de-facto Visa. I can call a pencil a pen and insist it is a pen, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a pencil. The EU can make up any word they want, but if their authorization follows the definition of a visa, then it is essentially a visa. Out of respect for them we’ll say that it is not a Visa, but it is the SAME in my opinion.
Now, to be fair the United States has a similar and even more restrictive programs in place for travelers to our country. Called the “Visa Waiver Program” it is similar in many ways in that it requires foreigners from Visa exempt countries to apply for an authorization to come here. Yes, I would say it is technically a visa as well, but of course the US government doesn’t think so.
Neither the United States nor the European Union consider these authorizations a visa, but by definition they are. Yes, they are much less restrictive and easier to get than a lot of traditional Visas, but in a world where you cannot just show up at a border and cross, but instead need an authorization ahead of time, let’s stop talking about which word to use.
Let’s instead talk about how this affects travelers, hopefully improves security and how it is isn’t too much of a hassle. We never said this new de-facto visa was terrible or bad, but instead we just accurately described it by its definition. But, to make the trolls happy, it isn’t a Visa according to either the US or the EU. I mean of course it isn’t, because that would be bad for business.