We are US citizens cruising in Italy, France, Spain, Malta and Greece.

Do we need an ESTA Card?

I have never heard of it. Thanks in advance.

  • 4
    What led you to ask this question if you've never heard of ESTA? Presumably you read or heard somewhere that you might need it for your trip; where did you read or hear that?
    – phoog
    Nov 13, 2017 at 16:37
  • 3
    isn't ESTA what other country citizens need to come to the USA?
    – Newton
    Nov 13, 2017 at 16:39
  • 2
    @Newton yes, it is. The question appears to have been asked because of some confusion, which is why I asked for clarification. Knowing the nature of the confusion more precisely might lead to a more helpful answer than simply "no, you don't need it."
    – phoog
    Nov 13, 2017 at 19:46

3 Answers 3


ESTA authorization is a requirement for certain visitors to the US. As a US citizen, you are not able to get it and you do not need it.

Furthermore, because ESTA concerns visitors to the US, it is not helpful for people traveling in Europe.


The ESTA is a US system where many visitors coming to the US are required to get an electronic authorisation in advance. The US insists that this authorisation is not a visa and it does involve much less bureaucracy than a traditional visa but nevertheless it allows the US authorities to check out travellers in advance and reject ones they don't like. A US citizen cannot get an ESTA and there is no such thing as an "ESTA card".

The Schengen area is planning to introduce a similar system called ETIAS but the system is not yet active. Current plans appear to be for this system to start in 2020.

So for the moment as long as they follow the 90/180 rule US citizens can make tourism and business visits to the Schengen area without having to get any form of advance authorisation from the European authorities. They will obviously need to carry their US passport. The non-schengen EU countries also currently allow US citizens to visit without advance authorisation.

P.S. Canada and Australia have introduced similar systems but US citizens are exempt from the Canadian one.


There's no such thing as an ESTA card in Europe. You will be given a 3 month stamp in your passport as a US citizen when you enter your first Schengen country from that list. There will be no other passport controls on your trip as all these countries are in the Schengen zone.

  • 5
    There's no such thing as a "3 month stamp in your passport' for Schengen. You will get an "entered on such-and-such date" stamp each time you enter the Schengen area, but this stamp does not mention anything about 3 months. There's a common simple situation where the date on the entry stamp is the 90th day before you need to be out of the Schengen area, but the stamp itself does not guarantee that you are in that simple situation. Nov 13, 2017 at 17:12
  • "There will be no other passport controls on your trip as all these countries are in the Schengen zone." Not necessarily true at all if taking the bus to Switzerland, or to a lesser extent Denmark or Sweden ;)
    – Crazydre
    Nov 14, 2017 at 14:44
  • @HenningMakholm indeed, and each time you exit the Schengen area as well. As you know, the stamp doesn't mention anything about any length of time; the only important indication is the date of entry or exit. Less critical information recorded by the stamp includes the location of entry or exit and the type of border post (air, sea, road, rail). There are also some numeric codes.
    – phoog
    Nov 15, 2017 at 6:04
  • I more meant the time they usually allow(90 days) but yes my answer could of been thought out better :) @Coke I went by how the question was asked in regards to the countries involved ha
    – BritishSam
    Nov 15, 2017 at 11:10

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