The majority of Europe has now opened its doors to American travelers after lifting Europe’s travel ban.
The United States was added to the European Union’s list of approved countries for entry on June 18, ending a 15-month ban on travel from the United States to Europe due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The move allowed EU countries that hadn’t lifted restrictions on U.S. travelers to do so – but it doesn’t mean they did so uniformly. Different countries still have different requirements (some still require COVID-19 testing, others don’t) and some countries still have quarantines if you happen to come from or visit a high-risk country. I am planning on visiting Portugal again in September with a friend from the U.S. Initially we were going to go to Portugal first and then Germany, however with Germany having a 10-day quarantine in place currently for people coming from Portugal we have had to reverse the order of our planned travel, touring around Germany first and then heading to Portugal in case the current restrictions still are in place.
Being on this E.U. list also opens up travel options for U.S. travelers who are not vaccinated, not just for those who are. On May 20, EU leaders had already agreed on measures to allow fully vaccinated visitors into the 27-nation bloc. As countries reach certain epidemiological benchmarks (no more than 75 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, for instance), and are placed on the approved countries list, restrictions on nonessential travel can be lifted regardless of vaccination status.
The complete list of countries and territories that now have been approved for travel by the European Council is:
- Hong Kong
- China (subject to reciprocity)
- New Zealand
- North Macedonia
- South Korea
- United States of America
Are Americans able to travel to all of Europe now?
Several European countries had already opened up again to American travelers in the weeks prior to the June 18 announcement, including France, Greece, Iceland, Portugal, Spain, and Italy. There were some countries that required U.S. travelers be vaccinated; however, others, like Portugal, did not require vaccinations but these restrictions are in constant flux.
The European Council, in its recommendation, has asked countries to act “coordinatedly” throughout the pandemic. The recommendations are not legally binding, as each European country is free to determine a country’s requirements for travelers entering its borders.
But now that the United States is on the approved travel list, other EU countries have begun unveiling their plans to welcome back U.S. tourists.
Are Americans required to be vaccinated before entering Europe?
After the news broke, countries including Austria, Belgium, and Germany opened their doors to U.S. travelers. Others, including France and Spain, also dropped their vaccination requirements for U.S. travelers.
I know this is a hotbed subject but I am going to voice my opinion. Get vaccinated!!! Smallpox and Polio were not cured by herd immunity, they were cured with vaccines. By not getting the vaccine you are playing Russian roulette with your life and possibly the life of other idiots like you that haven’t gotten the vaccine.
It is often possible for travelers to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result if they are not vaccinated in both digital or paper form. If you only have paper copies get them scanned and placed on your phone in case you need to pull them up.
While the European Union facilitates travel within Europe with the EU Digital COVID Certificate, a digital pass for those who have been vaccinated for COVID-19, tested negative for the virus, or have recovered from it, the document is not yet available to U. S. travelers or Americans such as myself who have their App store set to the U.S. and not a E.U. country. The CDC-issued paper certificate has so far been accepted by all European countries that have asked U.S. travelers for proof of vaccination status.
Previously, travelers from the U.S. and other countries that weren’t on the list could only enter Europe if they were EU citizens or residents, or if they were traveling for essential reasons such as work, study, or a family emergency-with very few other exceptions.
As mentioned above, the European Council’s recommendations are non-binding, so European countries can implement entry requirements as they see fit. The rules and restrictions of each individual European country should be checked in advance by travelers from the United States since they vary widely from one country to another and are subject to change.
A great resource is the U.S. State Department’s detailed COVID-19 travel information and country-specific advisories, which are updated regularly. You can cross-check these references with each individual country’s foreign affairs office, which normally publishes entry requirements.
U.S. travelers should be aware that all international passengers age two and older (including returning citizens and residents) must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of traveling to the U.S.
Having just flown to and from Portugal and Germany I found it easy to find testing sites. In Bavaria, these tests are free and only take 15 minutes. You only need your i.d. In Portugal, I saw testing sites at the airports. The one in Faro was free but the one at the Lisbon airport charged 30 euros.
Additionally, the CDC has detailed recommendations for travel, both for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.
Travelers should also check all openings and closures across Europe as well as public health measures. All European countries are on different stages of re-opening and edging their way out of lockdowns. The hours of some businesses and services may be restricted, curfews could be in effect, and there could be additional regulations on the ground, including the wearing of masks. I would assume that if you are out in public that you will be required to wear an FFP2 medical mask.
Staying on top of these changes is important, as they can change often.
I noticed a lot of people really following the mask guidelines in Portugal when outdoors, while here in Germany people are laxer about it while outside.
Detailed information about American travel restrictions in Europe, organized by country
The following is a summary of how some European countries will approach travel for Americans beginning July 1, 2021. This is not an exhaustive list, but it illustrates how we still have different rules and regulations across the continent. Travelers heading to Europe and crossing borders within Europe must remain up to date on the latest laws, regulations, and policies latest COVID-19 related travel restrictions because they are constantly changing.
Travel to Austria is now allowed as long as travelers present a CDC-issued vaccination certificate indicating they received their first vaccine dose at least 21 days prior to travel; have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 180 days; or present a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test result procured within 72 or 48 hours of travel, respectively, according to the Austrian government.
Nonessential travel from the U.S. to Belgium has been permitted since June 21, according to the U.S. Embassy in Belgium. If the U.S. is deemed to be a “green” or “orange” country, no additional health documentation is required; if it is a “red” country, a negative PCR test is required. Belgium does not require any tests or vaccine certificates for entry from the United States at the time of publication. In order to enter Belgium, travelers must fill out the Passenger Locator Form 48 hours before arrival.
Effective May 19, citizens and residents of the European Union and Schengen nations as well as those from a long list of additional countries, including the United States, can enter Bulgaria if they present a vaccination certificate showing they have received full vaccination (so two doses if two doses are required) at least 2 weeks prior to arrival, according to the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria. In addition, they may enter if they have recovered from COVID-19 within the previous six months or if they have a negative COVID-19 PCR test result obtained within 72 hours of entering Bulgaria or a negative COVID-19 antigen test performed within 48 hours of entry.
Since April 1, anyone can travel to Croatia with a COVID-19 vaccination certificate (the final dose must be administered at least 14 days before arrival); can present a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test no more than 48 hours before arrival (if it’s a rapid test, a second test must be taken 10 days after the initial test if a traveler’s stay in Croatia is longer than 10 days); 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.
The U.S. Embassy in Croatia reminds travelers that travelers who meet the above requirements can only enter Croatia if they provide evidence that they have paid for their Croatia accommodations in advance and in full prior to arrival at the border.
Effective July 1, Cyprus implemented a color-coded system for COVID-9 travel requirements. At the time of publishing, the United States was classified as orange, which means travelers from the U.S. to Cyprus must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test obtained within 72 hours of departure and complete the online Cyprus Flight Pass form.
Czech Republic (Czechia)
In the Czech Republic, the United States is considered a low-risk country, so there are no health-related entry requirements for travelers from the United States, according to the Czech government.
Travelers vaccinated against COVID-19 and those who have recovered from COVID-19 are welcome in Denmark without being tested or quarantined. Unvaccinated U.S. travelers must have negative results of COVID-19 PCR tests within 72 hours of boarding and then be retested upon arrival.
As of June 21, Estonia welcomes all U.S. travelers regardless of vaccination status. Anyone who has been vaccinated or who has recovered from COVID-19 do not need to provide any additional information or submit to any additional testing or quarantine requirements. Unvaccinated travelers must fill out an online health declaration, according to the U.S. Embassy in Estonia.
As of June 18, France included the United States on its “green list” of countries, allowing travelers without vaccinations to enter as long as they submit a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours of boarding.
Vaccinated U.S. leisure travelers may enter France without additional public health requirements (such as COVID testing) or quarantine by virtue of being on the green list.
Minors who are unvaccinated but traveling from the U.S. will be able to enter France, but those older than 11 will need a negative test.
Germany has now opened its borders to U.S. residents without restriction, regardless of vaccination status, a policy implemented on June 20. U.S. travelers heading to Germany must provide a negative COVID-19 test result, proof of recovery from COVID-19, or proof of vaccination. A PCR test and a rapid antigen test are both acceptable; however, the PCR test must be taken no more than 72 hours prior to entering Germany and the rapid antigen test no more than 48 hours. For proof of vaccination, it must have been at least 14 days since the last dose was administered, and travelers must have a physical copy of their vaccination certificate. A 10-day quarantine will no longer be required for U.S. travelers arriving in Germany unless you happen to travel first to a higher risk country i.e. Portugal.
Travelers from the European Union, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, Thailand, Rwanda, Singapore, the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Serbia, and the United Arab Emirates are allowed to enter Greece without having to be quarantined if they meet certain conditions, according to the Greek government.
If you are traveling from one of the above countries and have been vaccinated for COVID-19 at least 14 days prior to arrival, you are not required to quarantine and also not required to provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test. If you are not vaccinated, you must provide a COVID-19 PCR test that was conducted no more than 72 hours before you arrive in Greece. Children under five are exempt.
Each traveler must complete a passenger locator form at least 24 hours before arriving in Greece.
International arrivals in Greece will be subject to random and mandatory health checks, which may include rapid COVID-19 antigen testing. Test-positive COVID patients will be transported to a quarantine hotel by the Greek government, where they will take a COVID-19 PCR test to confirm the results. If they test positive again, travelers will be quarantined for at least 10 days, after which they will undergo a new round of testing to determine if they are COVID-free.
At time of publication, Hungary did not allow U.S. travelers to enter, with very limited exceptions, according to the U.S. Embassy in Hungary.
Iceland announced that vaccinated travelers and those who have recovered from COVID-19 can enter the country. In addition to the COVID-19 test, they will also have to undergo quarantine until the results are available (typically within six to twenty-four hours). Those who are not vaccinated may also travel to Iceland, but they will have to undergo a COVID-19 test upon arrival, quarantine for five days, and then undergo a second COVID-19 test after the five days of quarantine. Before entering the country, everyone must preregister.
It is the responsibility of travelers to provide proof that they have been fully vaccinated (so both doses if two doses are required) with a vaccine that has been approved for use by the European Medicines Agency, which includes the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Ireland began welcoming travelers from within Europe who have the EU Digital COVID Certificate on July 19th—a digital health pass issued to EU residents who have been vaccinated for COVID-19, tested negative for the virus, or who have recovered from COVID-19. Travelers with the EU Digital COVID Certificate will not need to quarantine.
Travelers from all countries outside of Europe, including the U.K. and the U.S., as long as the country is not on the European Union’s “emergency brake” list — countries with new or renewed entry restrictions due to an escalating covid threat.
In order to bypass otherwise mandatory COVID-19 testing and quarantine, travelers arriving from the U.S. will have to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination. To prove vaccination, you must present a COVID-19 PCR result obtained within 72 hours before your arrival. After their arrival, they must undergo quarantine and another post-arrival test.
Once one of the world’s hardest-hit Covid spots, In order to enter Italy, Americans need to be vaccinated for COVID-19, recovered from COVID, or present a negative COVID test result. The Italian government’s new plan for U.S. travelers went into effect on June 21.
In order to meet the new requirements for entering Italy, Americans must provide proof of vaccination completed at least 14 days before arrival in Italy (so your second dose, if two are needed, must have been received at least two weeks before your trip). Vaccination certificates issued by the USA’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be accepted by Italian officials.
As an alternative, U.S. travelers can also present a lab-generated negative COVID-test result within 48 hours of departure for Italy—either a rapid antigen or PCR test. (Travelers must provide certification of the laboratory that performed the test.)
According to the Italian government, the third option is to provide proof of recovery from COVID-19 “with a medical certificate outlining any necessary information.”
As of June 24, Americans can freely enter the Netherlands—no vaccine, negative test, or quarantine required. They will need to complete a health declaration (more information is available on the government’s website).
A fully vaccinated traveler (meaning it has been at least 14 days since the second dose if two doses were required) entering Poland, including those from the U.S., are exempt from an otherwise mandatory 10-day quarantine.
****To illustrate how things change. Just as I was getting ready to post this I read that the State Department had changed the travel advisory to Portugal to level 4 due to the spread of the Delta variant in Portugal so I would expect tighter travel controls to follow*** Updated 7/27/2021
Portugal reopened for United States travelers who had passed the COVID test on June 15.
Read about my recent travel at these links:
“Starting on June 15, nonessential (i.e., tourist travel) from the United States to mainland Portugal is permitted for travelers with proof of a negative COVID-19 test,” the U.S. Embassy in Portugal stated.
At this time, travelers from the United States are not required to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine in order to travel to Portugal. All passengers entering Portugal, except for children under 24 months of age, must simply provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result. A nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT), such as PCR, must be performed within 72 hours of boarding, or a rapid antigen test must be performed within 24 hours of boarding. No additional testing or quarantine will be required for mainland Portugal.
It is important to fill out a Passenger Locator Card within 48 hours of traveling to Portugal.
U.S. travelers who wish to visit the Azores or Madeira should be aware that both islands have different entry requirements.
Americans can skip a 14-day quarantine requirement if they provide proof of vaccination (completed at least 10 days before arrival) or proof of recovery from COVID-19, according to the Romanian Embassy. Children 3 and younger are exempt. A negative COVID PCR test must be provided within 72 hours of travel for children aged 3 to 16.
To travel to Spain from the U.S., follow these steps: Fill out an online Health Control Form, then show the QR code when you arrive. No vaccination certificate, COVID test, or quarantine is required.
From June 30, the U.S. will be exempt from the travel ban, as well as Albania, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Macao, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Taiwan. Now, travelers must present a certificate confirming a negative result for ongoing COVID-19 infection within 48 hours of arrival. Those under 18, those with long-term residency status, and visitors who meet a handful of other requirements can forgo the test. Vaccination doesn’t eliminate the need for the test, but it does mean you don’t need to undergo the recommended quarantine.
From June 28, travelers from the U.S. with proof of the COVID-19 test will no longer need to be quarantined or provide proof of vaccination. They will only need to show proof that they are fully vaccinated.
The unvaccinated must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result within 72 hours of travel, or a negative COVID rapid antigen test result within 48 hours of travel.
Regardless of vaccination status, travelers must fill out an online form before entering Switzerland.
As of May 17, Britain replaced its blanket ban on overseas travel with a traffic-light system that categorizes countries as low, medium, or high risk.
Travelers from countries on the “green list,” or countries considered low risk, must take two COVID-19 tests, one prior to arrival and one on the second day after arrival, but are exempt from quarantine.
At present, the United States is on the “amber list” of countries, or countries considered medium risk. Those arriving from countries on the “amber list” must quarantine for 10 days and take three COVID tests-one within three days before departure, and two (reserved in advance) after arrival, on day 2 and day 8 of the 10-day quarantine.
Children under the age of 11 are exempt from testing.
Those from “red list” countries must follow the same protocol as those from “amber list” countries but must self-isolate in a quarantine hotel. What a fun vacation.
Passengers coming to the United Kingdom from abroad will need to fill out a passenger locator form before arrival in the U.K., on which they will provide U.K. border control with their contact details, including their phone number and the address of their U.K. accommodation where they will self-isolate for 10 days.
Individuals who fail to self-isolate can be fined up to £1,000 (or approximately US$1,270), and if they fail to provide accurate contact details, they can be fined up to £3,200 (about US$4,070). The only reason to leave a quarantine location is for urgent medical needs, basic necessities such as food and medication, to attend a funeral of a close relative, or for an emergency.
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