Relax. You Probably Don’t Need A Visa To Travel To Europe This Summer

Taking a vacation to Europe soon? You may have heard you’ll need a visa to travel to Europe thanks to a recent vote by European Union officials.

Last week the EU Parliament voted to recommend that the governing EU Commission “reinstate visa requirements for Americans planning visits to Europe as early as May.

travel photo europe
Getty Images | Win McNamee

Does this mean travelers now need to rush to get new documentation to make their trips happen? Experts say it’s not time to panic.

Why The Possible Europe Travel Changes?

The U.S. and most European countries share a travel reciprocity program. This means U.S. citizens and citizens in most European countries do not need a travel visa. This allows citizens to travel for up to 90 days.

However, the U.S. government does require citizens from five EU countries—Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania—to secure a visa before traveling to America.

Some members of the EU Parliament feel it’s not right that U.S. citizens can travel visa-free throughout Europe. In fact, under EU rules, “all countries’ citizens must have equal rights.”

As a result, the EU Parliament voted to ask the Commission to consider extending the same visa limitations to U.S. citizens.

Does This Mean Americans Need Visas Now?

At this point, US citizens do not need a travel visa to go to Europe. Currently, all you need to visit most places in Europe is a passport “valid for at least three months past your intended departure.”

So, why all the fuss?

Experts believe the EU wants to use the vote as a negotiating strategy for international meetings this spring. In other words, European policymakers wanted to get the United States’ attention.

While the tactic grabbed headlines, experts remind travelers nothing is law, yet.

“It’s a non-binding vote with no real impact,” the website Foreign Policy said.

Before any overseas trip, check the U.S. State Department website for up-to-date travel restrictions and rules.