New border procedures for travelers arriving in Europe

Two changes are coming in 2022 for US travelers heading to Europe. First, there will be a new electronic Entry-Exit System (EES); and second, Americans will have to apply for a Visa Waiver through the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS).

The slick new EES will use biometric data* (more about that in a minute) embedded in your passport to register your arrival and departure. It's designed to speed up entry and exit lines at passport control, and to eliminate human error, where some travelers would not receive an entry or exit stamp on their passport, which could cause problems later, if border guards thought you had overstayed your welcome. Unfortunately for those of us who like to show off the number of stamps in our passport, the new, all-digital system means that there will not be any more passport stamps when entering or leaving the Schengen Zone.

Note that the EES will only affect those arriving in Europe's Schengen Zone from a non-Schengen area (like the US or Britain). There is no change to how borders within the Schengen Zone work – there are no passport controls when moving from one Schengen country to another. Traveling from Germany to France, for example, is no different than traveling from California to Arizona.

The introduction of the new EES – long delayed by the pandemic – is expected to occur in the first six months of 2022. 

*Biometric Data: All US passports issued since 2007 contain a small microchip that includes the information printed in your passport (physical description of the passport holder, and a digitized version of your passport photo). At the moment there is no other information on the chip, though in the future is could include fingerprint and facial recognition information).

A more significant change to entry procedures which will also be introduced in 2022 is the ETIAS Visa Waiver program. The word 'Visa' means 'seen'. Typically, travelers to a foreign country have to submit their passport to the embassy of that country in advance, which allows the foreign country to do a little checking up you. They want to know just who it is that's planning to travel to their country, to make sure they are people of good character and are coming for a legitimate purpose. Once the foreign embassy has vetted you they put a visa stamp in your passport, proving that you have been 'seen' and that you are allowed to enter the country.

For many years most of the countries in Europe have not required a visa from American travelers. Just by virtue of being a US passport holder it was assumed that you were OK. Americans could stay in the Schengen Zone for up to 90 days within any 180 day period without any sort of special visa.

Beginning sometime in 2022 Americans (and other non-EU residents) will need to register for a Visa Waiver by filling out an online ETIAS form in advance of travel. This is sort of a 'visa' – allowing the EU to have a look at who is planning to travel, without the hassles of having to submit your passport in advance and get a special stamp. Submitting the form will cost €7 (around $8), but the waiver is good for three years, so if you're a frequent traveler you won't have to do it every year.

The implementation date for ETIAS has not been set yet, but it's likely to be towards the end of 2022.

If you think it's a little unfair that Europe is requiring this from US travelers, keep in mind that ETIAS is virtually identical to the ESTA Visa Waiver procedure Europeans visiting the US have long had to follow.

Travel Thought for the Week of November 22, 2021

“Own only what you can carry with you: let your memory be your travel bag.”

– Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008), Russian novelist

Juliette's House in Verona

Nobody said anything about the doors!

Casa Giulietta (Juliette's House) is one of the most popular sights in Verona, Italy. Millions of people come to see where the famously star-struck lover of Romeo lived (Spoiler Alert: she's a fictitious character), and many want to leave a little memory of their visit behind. Modern day residents and businesses share the courtyard where the house is located, and obviously get a little tired of people writing on their walls.

Strikes in France and Rome

Two unions in France have called a strike, affecting regional trains throughout the country.

In Rome, taxi drivers have announced a strike for November 24.

It's Fondue season

The arrival of colder weather signals the start of fondue season in our house. Classic fondue uses a mix of two different Alpine cheeses (moitié-moitié, French for half and half). Use good quality cheese. Forget the rubbery stuff labeled "Swiss cheese" in American grocery stores. There are over 450 varieties of cheese in Switzerland, and I've never seen anything that resembles American-style "Swiss cheese" in Switzerland.

My favorite fondue recipe uses a combination of Gruyère cheese and Appenzeller cheese, a flavorful, nutty cheese that adds real character to any fondue. It can be difficult to find – and it's expensive – but it's worth the effort. I can usually find it at my local Whole Foods. Gruyère cheese is pretty easy to find at Costco, Trader Joe's, or any good grocery store. 

  • 1/2 pound Gruyère cheese
  • 1/2 pound Appenzeller or Emmentaler cheese
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup dry white wine, like Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
  • coarse ground black pepper (to taste)
  • cubed bread (use a loaf of good French, sourdough, or whole grain bread)
  1. Grate all of the cheeses. In a 1 gallon zip lock bag combine the cheeses with the cornstarch, tossing thoroughly to coat all pieces.
  2. Rub the garlic glove all over the inside of the fondue pot to coat all of the surface.
  3. In a stove-safe fondue pot or large heavy saucepan bring the wine to a simmer over medium-low heat.
  4. Add the cheeses to the simmering liquid a little at a time, stirring well between each addition to ensure a smooth fondue.
  5. Once smooth, stir in the brandy, nutmeg (if desired), and top with a little coarse, fresh cracked black pepper.
  6. Serve with fondue forks or wooden skewers to dip the bread into the cheese. Enjoy!

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