EU allows visitors only from some non-EU countries
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, travel is still restricted. While the majority of countries in the European Union allow travellers to cross internal borders within Europe, as long as they bring a negative test result, those from outside are mostly banned.
However, the EU allows visitors from several non-European countries, currently deemed safe.
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Here is the short list of countries on the European Commission list:
- New Zealand
- South Korea
Congratulations to the winners!
Other non-EU nations have dropped off the list due to rising infection rates.
China could be added to the list if the Chinese government agrees to accept EU visitors in turn.
The United States still hasn’t made the “safe” list, but it also has a travel ban on tourists from Europe's Schengen area, the UK and Ireland.
Similarly, the EU has been discouraging non-essential travel to and from the United Kingdom since December.
Note that the European Commission is reevaluating the list every 14 days. It has already removed countries such as Algeria, Georgia, Morocco, Japan, Tunisia, Uruguay, Canada, Serbia and Montenegro due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases there.
However, remember that even if you are an EU citizen or fall on the “safe” list, you still might have to follow additional rules laid out by the specific country you’re visiting.
All EU member states require passengers arriving in Europe to provide proof of a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours prior to departure. You might also be required to self-quarantine, participate in contact tracing schemes, and submit to additional coronavirus testing for a period of up to 14 days after arrival depending on the destination.
If your travel is essential and you're headed to the UK, you might not be banned, but you will face numerous restrictions. The UK also has its own 'red list' of banned countries which includes much of South America, southern Africa and the United Arab Emirates. Currently, the US is not on the list.
Is anyone exempt from travel restrictions?
There are many exceptions to the ban on travel to Europe. Among those who are exempt are European citizens and residents, their family members, passengers in transit, and students.
In fact, the list is not legally binding, but EU leaders have agreed that member countries should not act independently and lift travel restrictions for unlisted countries. First, this has to be discussed and decided upon so that it is done in a coordinated manner.
At one point, some EU countries refused to permit passengers even from the countries on the list.
European countries welcoming vaccinated travellers
Good news - if you have already been vaccinated against COVID-19, you might be able to enter several European countries, no matter where you’re coming from. Here are the EU countries that allow visitors who are vaccinated.
As of April 1, anyone can travel to Croatia if they:
- present a COVID-19 vaccination certificate (Important: the final dose must have been administered at least 14 days before arrival);
- can show a negative PCR or an antigen test taken within 48 hours prior to arrival in Croatia (if it’s a rapid test and your stay in Croatia is longer than 10 days, a second test must be taken 10 days after the initial one);
- or were diagnosed with and recovered from COVID-19 no more than 180 days prior to arrival.
Children under seven years of age are exempt from these requirements.
However, note that tourists who meet them will only be permitted to enter if they can provide evidence that they have paid for their accommodations in Croatia in advance and in full prior to arrival at the border.
Since February 2, Estonia has declared that those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 can enter the country without the need to submit to an otherwise mandatory 10-day quarantine and COVID-19 testing. However, vaccinated travellers must still follow all public health measures that are in place in Estonia.
As of February 1, any fully vaccinated traveller from any country is allowed to enter Georgia if they can present documentation confirming their COVID-19 vaccination status. If the vaccine requires 2 doses, proof of both is necessary.
Unvaccinated travellers arriving from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, the European Union, Israel, Kazakhstan, Norway, Northern Ireland, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, the UK, or the US must have a negative COVID-19 PCR test result conducted within 72 hours prior to travel at the Georgian border. On their third day in Georgia, travellers have to undergo a second PCR test.
On March 9, the tourism minister of Greece said that those who are vaccinated against COVID-19, have antibodies, or test negative will be able to travel to Greece this summer.
However, right now, only residents of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Lichtenstein, and Iceland can enter Greece, as well as those traveling from Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and the UK. Anyone coming from other countries can only enter Greece for essential travel purposes.
Note that all arrivals must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from within 72 hours before they enter.
Passengers entering Greece must also complete a passenger locator form online, which contains the address of their stay while in Greece.
From March 18, any travellers, including those from the US, who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can enter Iceland, without being subjected to COVID-19 testing or quarantine measures.
Travellers must have proof that they have been fully vaccinated (2 doses when 2 are required) with a vaccine that has been certified for use by the European Medicines Agency. Those include the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Travelling in Europe with a Digital Green Certificate
The European Commission has suggested the creation of a Digital Green Certificate or a so-called “vaccination passport”. It will facilitate the free and safe movement around Europe.
It will be first valid only in the European Union, but can quickly expand and be valid everywhere if other countries cooperate. Different countries might create similar certificates as well.
Learn more about how the Digital Green Certificate will function in our separate article.
EU allows visitors: Conclusion
The list of who is allowed to enter the EU has been widely fluctuating over the last year. Countries have been added and removed within weeks and even days.
However, there is some hope for those looking forward to a European vacation, thanks to the vaccines. Some European countries are currently allowing vaccinated travellers to enter, with other countries hoping to do so this summer.
Make sure to check for updates before you travel and stay safe!