Will US Citizens Need Visa to Visit Romania & EU Countries Starting 2021?

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I was pretty surprised when, over the weekend, I kept seeing shared articles by my Facebook friends with titles like: “Starting 2021, US citizens will need a visa to visit EU Countries”. Even more surprised when I found out that it’s actually not just the US, but a total of 60 countries on the list. What is happening?

At first, I thought that it’s nothing but a bit of fake news going viral, but then more and more articles from various sources started to pop up. So I decided to investigate this a bit, because the European Union introducing a Visa for US citizens would have a really huge impact on how things go in the world, not just in Romania.

There were actually talks and rumors about the EU introducing a visa for US citizens starting a couple of years ago, and the main reason for an introduction of a VISA for US citizens who visit Romania or other European Union countries was the fact that some of these EU countries ( Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Poland) were required a visa to visit the United States.

It seems that the rumors were indeed part-true and changes will come into effect starting 2021, affecting all US citizens who plan to visit some European Union countries. However, things are not as bad as some publications initially made them sound.

Will US citizens need a Visa to visit Romania or EU Countries?

No, even starting 2021, there will be no Visa requirements for US citizens traveling to Romania or any other country in the European Union.

What changes is the fact that the EU is introducing an ETIAS authorization that US citizens will need to apply and obtain before being allowed to visit some EU countries: the countries in the Schengen Area, of which Romania is not part of.

What is this ETIAS authorization? Well, not much! US citizens who plan to visit countries in the Schengen area will have to apply online for this authorization prior to their visit to Europe. However, this will be a pretty much straightforward and easy step, according to the European Commission who said:

“Completing the online application should not take more than 10 minutes with automatic approval being given in over 95% of cases.”

This application will cost about 8 Euros and can be paid online. The approval will be valid for 3 years (or until your current passport expires – whichever comes first).

This is a measure implemented by the European Union to simply increase the security of their borders:

“The new ETIAS will ensure that we no longer have an information gap on visa-free travelers,” said Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European commissioner for migration. “Anyone who poses a migratory or security risk will be identified before they even travel to EU borders.”

The US is not the only country affected by this change that will come into effect starting 2021, if all goes as planned. A total of 60 countries will be affected by this new rule, including Canada, New Zealand, Brazil, and more. It’s probably all the countries that did not require visas before.

Will you need to complete this application if you plan to travel to Romania?

Right now, all I can say is that I don’t have an answer to be 100% sure of. Most of the news and articles I have read about this state that this application form will only be required for people visiting Schengen Area countries. Romania is not a part of those, which would mean that for visiting Romania, you would not need to get through this screening process.

However, the source quoted above talks about the “EU borders”. And Romania is part of the European Union, which would mean that US citizens – as well as people from the other 60 countries on the list – would need to get that online approval first.

So as you can see, when it comes to Romania, things are not very clear at the moment. I tend to believe that since it’s the European Union in question, probably this will apply to Romania as well as other EU countries that are not yet in the Schengen space.

But this move also shouldn’t change your plans too much: all these measures are taken for keeping some sort of an evidence of people who get into the European Union space and not to keep people out. And for a form that takes just 10 minutes and costs under $10, I think we can say that it could’ve been a lot worse!

8 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Calin:
    It’s funny, because I was going to ask you about this.
    I figured it was payback for Dumbass Trump pissing off the EU so much with demanding countries
    pay more for NATO. The man is an idiot! (And trust me, if he gets reelected, the USA
    is a goner!)
    Do you use a filter for your tap water? I’ve always used tap water forever without a
    filter. No biggie, though–just curious.
    Are you still hanging on to your cottage? I think I’d rent it out and let someone fix it up and
    live there. I’m sure there are plenty of folk who are handy-dandies, who could fix up the place for you.
    Is customer service getting any better, or do the salespeople still think they are doing you a favor?
    Even a little smile can go a long way, these days.
    Are you planning any spring getaways (trips)? Do you change your clocks, or do you change later. I ALWAYS have trouble “springing forward,” and losing an hour of shuteye.
    Hopefully, for the better, Romania will become a part of Schengen. Can’t see any reason why not.
    ~Teil (USA)

    • Hello Teil,

      I also believed at first that it was caused by Trump’s handling of things, but as long as most of the world is included in this, I think that was not really the case, just a coincidence.

      We personally use a filter for tap water, but that’s just to be extra safe and remove chlorine (which is used to treat the water) and potential metals (the pipes are old and some claim that rust particles might get into the water). However, many people drink the tap water without filtering it, so it can be considered safe to drink or cook with.

      We still have the village cottage, even though we didn’t have time to fix anything. Everybody is running away from villages in Romania nowadays and renting one would be practically impossible anywhere in Romania. I’ve never seen an offer from anybody trying to rent, so there’s absolutely no demand for that. Even when it comes to selling – there’s a low demand as well, with cottages like ours being priced between 5,000 – 10,000 euros and still not finding any buyers 🙂

      We don’t have any trips planned for this spring, but maybe something will pop up. We also have the time changes twice a year, but honestly I have no idea when they take place (sometime during the spring and then during the fall).

  2. Like you, Calin, when I began reading the news reports about “visa” requirements, my head started spinning as I searched for a definitive answer to the questions regarding EU travel as an American. To me, so far, the new ETIAS will seem to be nothing more than a minor annoyance, costing little, and, if I read it correctly, approval for Schengen travel will be granted for three years. I like how the request can be made online and a response returned in a few minutes. This is much simpler than the RealID debacle that is happening currently back in the States. This is the new documentation requirement of citizens for airline travel within the US. It requires a physical presence at the Department of Motor Vehicles (see the movie Zootopia for details) and proof of residence. It will be time to renew my California driver’s license next spring, so I guess I’ll be traveling then to visit family, friends and the DMV.

    • Yes, the approval granted is for 3 years (or until the passport expires, whichever comes first). I forgot to mention it in the article, I will update it right away.

      I too believe that this is just a minor annoyance. I doubt it will be able to keep criminals away, but probably it’s more of a Big Brother-type of thing where the governments still have some sort of an evidence of what’s happening with the population of the world. In today’s digital age where everybody travels a lot (and somewhat freely), this was to be expected 🙂

  3. The USA also requires an “travel authorization” called ESTA for anyone travelling to the USA from a Visa Waiver country. It costs $14. When we introduced it in 2010, the EU and other countries like Japan were pretty upset, accusing the US of imposing a tax on all foreign visitors that supposedly didn’t need a visa. There was talk back then of charging all US travelers the same amount to enter the EU, but I think they decided it might hurt tourism from Americans. I guess they have changed their minds. My Japanese wife has to get an ESTA when we visit the USA. It’s good for two years, BUT STILL….it’s a rip-off.

    • This one is valid for three years (I forgot to mention in the original article). But yes, it’s annoying nevertheless. I personally don’t think that they’d be making a lot of money out of this – I read that creating the platform will cost 200 million Euros, with anticipated yearly running costs of 85 million. There re probably more than 10 million people coming to visit, but it won’t be a huge profit for the EU either way.

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