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Andrew Henderson

Founder of Nomad Capitalist and the world’s most sought-after expert on global citizenship.

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Global Citizen

No More Visa-Free Travel to Europe for US Citizens

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This is a second passport conversation even I thought we would never have.

We normally talk about the benefits of getting a second passport for reasons of asset protection, personal freedom, and as part of having a Plan B.

While most of the people we work with are from the West, we also receive requests from individuals from developing countries who want a better passport for the increased travel it provides.

We never thought that US citizens would one day be in the same position seeking better visa-free travel.

But it is now a reality. 

At Nomad Capitalist, we don’t offer one-size-fits-all solutions, and nothing can substitute our bespoke strategies tailored to your needs, from wealth protection to offshore banking and high-level citizenship. Apply to become a client, and we will help you go where you are treated best. 

What is ETIAS

90 days of unrestricted travel throughout the European Union, currently enjoyed by millions of US citizens each year, is soon to be a thing of the past.

The European Travel Information and Authorization System, or ETIAS, is the new requirement for entering the EU, impacting more than 60 nations, including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.

Starting in 2024, US passport holders will lose visa-free travel rights and must undergo a visa application process before traveling to 30 EU countries, including the Schengen Area.

To apply for the ETIAS, you can use either the online platform or the app. The application fee is approximately $8 and applies to all travelers between 18 and 70.

To complete the application, you will need the following:  

  • passport information
  • personal details
  • any previous criminal records
  • reason for traveling

The ETIAS website advises applicants to submit their applications well in advance of organizing travel.  In the case of a fraudulent or invalid passport, or if an applicant is deemed to be a security risk, the application would be denied. 

What is the reason behind the introduction of this new visa requirement? 

According to the European Commission, the introduction of ETIAS is aimed at identifying security threats, irregular migration, and epidemic risks. The screening process will involve checking applicants against E.U. information systems for border and security purposes. 

ETIAS can be compared to the United States’ Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which requires citizens of 40 countries to apply online for authorization before traveling to the United States for up to 90 days. The introduction of the EU’s version of this system aims to maintain a similar level of information gathering and control.

Both Canada and the US have a merit-based visa waiver program, while the EU follows a rule of reciprocity. The US government claims that the countries that are currently denied access have not yet met the criteria for the visa waiver.

While Europe may not be able to afford to lose tourist dollars from lazy people who won’t get visas (although countries like China are outpacing US tourism and diminishing the need for it), the objective of the European Union is to achieve full visa waiver reciprocity for all union members.

How The Unthinkable Happens

The fact that visa-free travel to Europe is no longer possible means ANYTHING is up for grabs.

How did the unthinkable happen? First, there was denial, then there was discussion, and then the issue got pushed onto the slippery slope that almost always leads to a loss of freedom.

For instance, there used to be a time when people thought Social Security was sacrosanct… and then someone suggested that we would have to extend the retirement age. And when the National Security Agency was formally established, people argued that the NSA would never spy on US citizens.

There used to be a time, as well, when socialism and fascism were abhorred, and the idea that either ideology could have any credence in the US was laughable. People have said, “It could never happen!” about things that eventually did, and the first step has always been discussion. 

Unfortunately, US passport holders’ visa restrictions are here.

While Americans would still have visa-free access to Ireland and the UK (who have opted out of the EU’s common visa policy), the changes are a blow to the US passport as a practical travel document.

How To Maintain Your Freedom

Developing countries — countries that some of you currently sneer at — may soon have better visa-free access than the US and Canada. 

Having a second passport in one of these countries may actually make sense now, not just as a Plan B, but as a means of entering countries, you are denied access to as a US or Canadian passport holder.

In fact, some countries already have advantages over the US. For instance, Americans can’t visit several Latin American countries without burdensome visa procedures, particularly Brazil. 

The truth is that the quality of US (and now Canadian) passports is going down. Canada has been following the US in implementing its own version of ESTA and other nonsensical bureaucracy. 

Now, the rest of the world is finally sitting up and saying, “enough.”

Combine that with Europe’s push to fight terrorism and increase security, and your freedom of movement is on the line. There is also a plan to implement a system that will record the fingerprints and photos of visitors traveling throughout Europe.

Who knows what else will be compromised in the name of information sharing, the tightening of security, or even just as a casualty of the political tit-for-tat that has Europe unsure whether they’ll let you in their borders.

Now, more than ever, it’s time to set up your Plan B, get that second residency, and work toward a second passport

Do you have a backup plan in place, a contingency plan in case of increasing threats to your freedom and political turmoil? 

From Citizenship by DescentGolden Visas and Second Residence Programs to offshore bank accounts and gold storage, legitimate options can help you diversify and safeguard your freedoms. 

If you are ready to begin your own holistic strategy, apply here to become a Nomad Capitalist client. 

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