If you’re planning a trip to Europe in 2024, there’s a new requirement you should be aware of. Previously, you could travel to Europe without a visa. But now you’ll need to apply for authorization through the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) before your visit.

It doesn’t seem to be too complicated of a process. You’ll find the application form on the official ETIAS website or a mobile app. It costs 7 euros or around $7.79 in U.S. dollars. Once you’re approved, you can stay in European countries requiring ETIAS for up to 90 days within any 180-day period. Take a look at the European countries that require ETIAS here.

The good news is that most applications are processed within minutes. But if it takes longer, you should get a decision within four days, and in some cases, up to 14 days if they need more documentation, according to ETIAS.

Remember to apply well before your trip and keep your confirmation email with a unique number for reference. Double-check all your info because any mistake could mess up your plans at the border.

Your ETIAS authorization is valid for three years or until your travel document (like your U.S. passport) expires. And speaking of passports, you’ll need both your passport and ETIAS authorization to board a flight, bus, or ship to enter European countries with ETIAS requirements.

But, like with passports, ETIAS doesn’t guarantee entry. The border guards will still check if you meet the entry conditions, so make sure you’re all set before you go.

The change in U.S. citizens’ entry visas for Europe sparked a mix of reactions. A dedicated Reddit thread emerged to discuss the new requirements. One Redditor wrote, “Europeans and others have had to apply for a similar visa waiver ESTA to enter the US for years (which costs more at 21 dollars), so this is somewhat reciprocal.”

Someone else pointed out a potential impact on movie culture, saying that “The only thing this will change is Hollywood movies where someone races to the airport and buys a last-minute ticket to Paris. Now they will have to add a scene where they sit down for 5 minutes and fill out an online form.”

Learn more about the process directly from the European Union here.

5 Passport-Free Getaways Where Travelers Can Explore

Most of the time, if you’re traveling outside of the U.S., you need a current passport to do it. But there are some places outside of the country where you can visit without a passport.  And that’s good news for many Americans. A significant portion of Americans, roughly 55 percent, do not possess one.

Last year, the State Department reported that out of the 333,287,557 individuals residing in the United States, an estimated 55 percent, or a substantial portion, did not possess a passport. This figure, based on the total number of 151,814,305 valid U.S. passports in circulation, highlights the fact that a significant majority of Americans have yet to get one.

You don’t always need a passport to visit some awesome places. There are U.S. islands and territories, like the breathtaking U.S. Virgin Islands, where you can hop on a plane and explore without a passport. However, it’s important to note that the travel landscape can sometimes be confusing, as there are other U.S. territories, like Guam, where a passport is necessary for entry.

Do I need a passport for cruises?

When it comes to closed-loop cruises, which are voyages departing from the U.S. and returning to the same port, travelers have a bit of leeway when it comes to passport requirements. According to Ilisa Oman, a travel agent at One World Family Travel, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) allows passengers on these cruises to travel without providing proof of a passport. Instead, a state-issued driver’s license or identification card usually suffices.

Keep in mind that there are exceptions to this rule. It’s always best to check in with your cruise line for more information about your travels.

To make your trip planning a breeze, we’ve got your back with a list of cool destinations where you, as a U.S. citizen, can travel passport-free. Whether you don’t have one or simply prefer to explore without the hassle of carrying one, we’ve got you covered.

  • Puerto Rico

    This Caribbean island is part of the U.S. Puerto Rico has sandy beaches, mountains, waterfalls, and even a tropical rainforest. If you’re a U.S. citizen traveling from anywhere within the U.S., you don’t need to hassle with a passport to visit this paradise. It’s worth mentioning that starting from May 2025, there’s this thing called the Real ID Act that kicks in. If your state isn’t compliant with this Act, you’ll need to bring your trusty passport to explore the wonders of Puerto Rico. So, make sure to check if your state is all set with the Real ID Act before planning your trip.

    San Juan, Puerto Rico resort skyline on Condado Beach on dusk.

    Sean Pavone/ Getty Images


  • St. Croix

    If you’re craving island vibes, you might want to check out St. Croix. It is part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, you won’t need to worry about bringing your passport when traveling to and from this island.

    Beautiful scenery with harbor of St Croix, green mountain, water and town along the coastline.

    NAPA74/ Getty Images

  • Northern Mariana Islands

    The Northern Mariana Islands, a collection of 14 tropical wonders has sandy shores, azure waters, and an array of thrilling activities like windsurfing, cavern dives, and jungle treks. And yes, U.S. citizens can venture to these remote islands without the need for a passport. However, it’s important to remember that you’ll need to carry a government-issued proof of identification along with you during your visit.

    Taga Beach is an idyllic little cove below the cliff lines and is one of the top attractions in Tinian, Northern Mariana Islands.

    raksybH/ Getty Images

  • St. Thomas

    St. Thomas, a Caribbean island known for its white sand beaches, snorkeling opportunities, and Danish colonial architecture. As a U.S. citizen, you won’t need a passport to visit the U.S. Virgin Islands, which includes St. Thomas. However, it’s important to note that if you plan to explore the neighboring British Virgin Islands, a valid passport will be required. For your adventures on St. Thomas, it only requires a government-issued ID with your photo.

    Trunk Bay, St John, United States Virgin Islands.

    SeanPavonePhoto/ Getty Images

  • St. John

    St. John, the smallest of the U.S. Virgin Islands. This island is home to the  Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve, where you can embark on thrilling adventures like scuba diving, hiking, and even discover prehistoric archaeological sites. Since St. John is part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, you can leave your passport at home when traveling there.

    Cruz Bay, St John, United States Virgin Islands.

    SeanPavonePhoto/ Getty Images

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