Planning for a trip in 2023? We’re here to help you navigate the complex changes happening in the world of travel next year, from new biometric rules to new entry fees for travel to Europe.
Once again, rules are changing for travelers in 2023, with new systems being put in place to make travel easier. If you’re planning a trip in 2023, here’s what you need to know about the biggest changes.
Americans can finally renew their passports online
Did you lose your passport? Want to update your name? Change your gender? Good news: following a successful pilot this year, online passport renewal for the US is expected to roll out fully in 2023.
The new service makes applying for a passport convenient and straightforward. You no longer have to work through piles of paperwork, and you won’t have to get a physical passport photo or wait hours in line at passport offices.
The digitized system allows you to complete your renewal online, upload a photo from your smartphone or tablet, and pay electronically.
But if you have international travel plans in the near future, don’t wait to get your application in – for while the new service may be more efficient, it’s not that much faster or cheaper than the old-fashioned way. The Department of State has said that the wait time is generally the same for a mailed-in application: a turnaround time of eight to 11 weeks. Fees will remain the same, at $130 for a passport book, $30 for a passport card or $160 for both. If you opt for expedited service (five to seven weeks), you’ll be charged an extra $60.
The exact date for the full roll-out online applications has not yet been announced, but it’s likely in early 2023. To apply, you must be 25 or older, and your most recent passport must have been valid for 10 years. There are a few other requirements, which you can read about here.
You’ll be charged to travel to Europe
But not much. Starting November 2023, the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) will be rolled out to non–European Union citizens from 60 countries, including the US. So if you’re an American traveler over 18 and under 70, you must fill in a form and pay a €7 ($7.25) entry fee.
The ETIAS is a European visa-waiver program, and works similarly to the US ESTA, conducting a quick, automated security check on visitors before allowing them entry. The ETIAS allows the holder to enter the region for up to 90 days without a visa, and is valid for multiple visits over three years. You’ll need to apply online ahead of traveling; in most cases, approval is expected to be granted almost immediately.
While the ETIAS will not be needed for entry to every EU country, it is required for the 26 European countries within the Schengen Area that have abolished all controls at their mutual borders.
You’ll be fingerprinted when you land in Europe
A new entry-exit system (EES) due to start in May 2023 will require all non-EU nationals to submit biometric data like fingerprints and facial scans before entering the EU. (This is similar to what the US requires for international visitors.)
Like the ETIAS, it will only affect non-EU citizens arriving at a destination within the Schengen Area, which comprises 22 countries from the EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Nothing much will change for visitors, though you may face longer wait times at borders after the system is initially rolled out in May. Some countries, including Germany and Austria, are concerned that wait times will “double compared to the current situation.”