For most travelers from the United States, planning a vacation in Europe is usually pretty seamless. You simply book your ticket, ensure your passport is valid and head to the airport without any visa or pre-clearance requirements. But the travel landscape is constantly evolving, with new travel authorization systems and rule changes on the horizon.

In the coming months, various changes will affect travelers, including new border rules, visitor fees, booking systems and even a relaxation of the rules around liquids in hand baggage.

To make sure your trip gets off to a flying start, here are the major changes that should be on your radar and how you can prepare before you go. 

1. Fingerprint checks for travel to Europe will start in 2024

A new EU entry-exit system (EES) that was due to be introduced last year will now be launched in October 2024. The EES will require most non-EU nationals, including British and American travelers, to submit biometric data like fingerprints and facial scans when entering 25 EU countries (all member states except for Cyprus and Ireland) and the four-non EU states that make up the border-free Schengen zone (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).

While it won't change much for visitors, be prepared for potentially longer wait times at borders when the system launches on October 6. Some countries, like Germany and Austria, are concerned that wait times could even “double compared to the current situation.”

Young backpacker couple smiles as they wait with other people at the check-in counter at an airport
In 2023, the EU will require overseas travelers to register for its visa-waiver program, and submit fingerprints and facial scans up arrival © Hinterhaus Productions / Getty Images

2. You’ll be charged to travel to Europe

But it won't break the bank. Once the EES is up and running, the EU will introduce the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). This visa-waiver program applies to non-EU citizens from 60 countries aged between 18 and 70. Similar to the US ESTA scheme, it costs a small fee ( €7 / $7.25) to sign up for ETIAS authorization and, once approved, you can enjoy multiple visits over three years. Approval is expected to be granted almost immediately for applicants.

While ETIAS is not required for entry to every EU country, it is necessary for the passport-free zone within the Schengen Area. These countries have eliminated border controls between them. The launch date for this system has been pushed back numerous times already but the European Commission has confirmed it will go ahead in early 2025.

Female passengers going through security check
More airports are introducing enhanced CT scanners so that passengers don't have to remove liquids, laptops and aerosols at security © Getty Images

3. Ban on liquids will be lifted at some airports

Next year, more airports will allow passengers to carry liquids through security in their bags. Already, New York's John F Kennedy, Amsterdam and London City airports have implemented new security measures that eliminate the need for passengers to remove liquids and laptops from their cabin bags during pre-flight security checks. However, by mid-2024, the UK government will require all its airports to adopt similar technology.

Spanish airports such as Barcelona's El Prat, Madrid Barajas, and Palma de Mallorca are also following the trend and will eliminate the liquids and laptop rule by the end of 2024. Irish airports are introducing similar technology by 2024, and some airports closer to home, including Hawaii's Lihue Airport, Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson, and Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, have already implemented enhanced CT scanners in some security lanes.

But you can always breeze through security without having to remove shoes, electronics and liquids or toss your water bottle if you apply for (and get approved for) TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry.

A man and a woman on a balcony, with a scenic view of the city and coastline in the background
Brazil is reintroducing its visa requirement for short-term stays in 2024 © Getty Images

4. You'll need a visa to travel to Brazil

Starting January 10, 2024, visitors from the United States, Canada and Australia will need an e-visa to enter Brazil for vacations.

Since 2019, Brazil had waived visa rules for Americans, Canadians and Australians on short-term stays that don't exceed 90 days. But that's set to change next year with the introduction of the e-visa. It won't come cheap, costing $80.90 per application, but it will grant you multiple entries within a 10-year validity period (five years for Canadian or Australian nationals).

Processing time is approximately five working days and everything can be done online; there's no need to visit a consulate or embassy. When registering, you'll have to supply personal information, passport details, and, for minors, parental consent. Once approved, you'll receive a downloadable PDF e-visa to present during boarding and upon arrival in Brazil.

A young woman enjoying a summer cocktail, looking over towards the famous Rialto Bridge in Venice
Venice is launching a booking system for visitors in 2024 © Getty Images/iStockphoto

5. You have to register to visit Venice

Venice is introducing a new ticketing system for visitors next year as part of congestion-management plans. That means you'll have to register your visit online via a new booking platform that will launch on January 16. We recommend registering as soon as you've secured your flight and accommodation, because if you show up in the city without registering, you could be hit with a fine of about €400. That's not something you want eating into your holiday budget.

The process is fairly straightforward. Upon registering, you'll receive a QR code that can be scanned at electronic turnstiles positioned at various access points across the city. Keep your QR code handy, either on your phone or as a printed copy, as officials may conduct random checks in the city to verify your registration.

Additionally, if you're planning on only spending a few hours in Venice, you'll need to pay an entry fee when registering your visit online. This day-tripper fee is aimed at people who'll be entering and leaving the city on the same day, not at tourists spending the night, and is another cog in Venice's plans to better manage the influx of visitors.

This article was first published December 2022 and updated December 2023

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