New Year, New Travel Rules.

We are all grateful that most countries have removed all COVID-19-related entry requirements, but the travel experience hasn’t exactly gone back to pre-pandemic.

Lonely Planet has recently shared a list of the three big changes American travelers need to know for 2023, and these are the main considerations:

Americans Can Renew Their Passports Online

In 2022, as travel demand skyrocketed, Americans had to wait for months to get a new passport but the process has been optimized and modernized. Now, after a successful pilot program, U.S. citizens will be eligible to renew their passports online for international travel. 

The new process should be faster. The traditional waiting time used to be from 8 to 11 weeks—when the number of requests was low or average— and now it has been reduced from 1 to 7 weeks, and without all the paperwork since now the process is all digital.

Travelers can renew online if they are over 25 years old and their most recent passport was valid for 10 years, and it was issued after 2007. Only regular passports can be issued this way, diplomatic or official passports will not be processed online.

The fees remain the same, the passport book costs $130, the passport card $30, and both documents $160. Those interested in getting a new passport shouldn’t wait until their travel dates approach, since it might still take a few weeks to be issued.

There’s A New Entry Fee For Europe

Starting in November, American travelers will have to pay for the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS)—also known as “visitor tax”— for non-European citizens. However, the fee is only 7 euros, around 7.45 U.S. dollars, and once approved is valid for up to 3 years. 

This requirement applies to travelers over 18 years old and under 70, to travel to the 27 Schengen Area countries, where non-European visitors cannot stay for more than 90 days every 180-day period. 

Travelers will have to fill out the application form online with personal information, passport details, and security information, pay the fee with a debit or credit card, and wait for approval. The process is usually automated so those who apply will not have to wait for too long, most applicants get a response within minutes. However, even if it is a very fast procedure, travelers must request the ETIAS approval at least 72 hours prior to the trip. 

Travelers Will Have To Register Fingerprints In Europe

Security measures in Europe have increased and travelers must stay up to date. Americans must know that, starting in May, when visiting countries in the European Union they will have to provide fingerprints and be photographed for the European Union’s Entry-Exit System (EES). 

The biometric data will be included in the security database. Travelers will also be required to provide their full name and travel document details.

As a consequence, waiting times at European airports will increase, and certain countries, like Germany and Austria, have expressed their concerns regarding waiting times. Austria has estimated that this new measure will double process times compared to the current service.

With this information, local authorities will have all relevant data regarding American travelers’ transit, entry and exit details, as well as biometric information. Those who want to extend their 90 days stay in Europe, could opt to visit non-Schengen countries like Albania, Turkey, or Montenegro.