European travel requirements for Americans have changed again
It’s another season of new travel regulations in Europe, with some countries easing requirements and others tightening them. But one thing remains the same: it’s still confusing.
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BBy now, we’ve all gotten used to living in a world where travel rules and regulations often change. The timing of these changes has even become somewhat predictable as we ride the waves of pandemic surges and setbacks. For example, after many countries in Europe tightened travel restrictions in December in the face of an increase in COVID cases fueled by the Omicron variant, many are now relaxing these entry rules and/or modifying them to include, for example, a callback requirement.
However, the latest round of regulatory updates comes as the European Union seeks to better streamline travel between member countries by basing entry requirements on a person’s COVID-19 vaccination or test status instead. than on where individuals are traveling to or from. If successful, the changes could move Europe towards more consistent and enduring requirements rather than a revolving door of regulations that change with each ebb and flow of the pandemic.
The European Commission agreed on a recommendation on Tuesday that would base entry on a travel certificate showing vaccination against COVID-19 – the vaccination status would be valid for nine months after the last dose of the initial series of vaccinations, after which an individual should get a booster to keep their vaccination status valid. A negative COVID-19 PCR test less than three days old or an antigen test taken within the day would also allow entry, as would a COVID-19 recovery certificate less than six months old.
But each country in Europe ultimately has the final say on its requirements, and it remains to be seen if there will be some sort of coordinated effort successfully implemented regarding pandemic travel policies. In the two years since the start of the pandemic, we have yet to see consistency from European countries.
Instead, some countries in Europe have again updated their entry rules in recent days, and as we’ve seen in the past, they’re a little, well, everywhere – some are more lenient. and others stricter than the previous ones. series of updates. Here is a brief summary of some of the recent changes in Europe.
European countries adding recall requirements
With the European Commission agreeing in December that COVID-19 vaccination status would be considered valid for up to nine months after the initial round of vaccines and as recall campaigns ramp up, we are likely to see more countries develop recall requirements for travel. Here are some examples.
Quarantine-free travel from the United States to Austria is permitted as long as travelers register in advance and present a vaccination certificate issued by the CDC, as well as proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test in the 72 hours following the trip. Those who received a booster do not need to provide a COVID test, nor do those who are fully vaccinated and have recovered from COVID-19 within the past 180 days. Unvaccinated travelers from the US can still enter Austria but must pre-register, present a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival (a PCR test within 72 hours of travel) and quarantine for five days and then present another negative PCR test, according to the Austrian government.
Vaccinated US travelers can enter Spain, but as of February 1, those who were vaccinated more than 270 days before entering Spain will need to present proof of booster. All travelers to Spain must complete a health screening form prior to arrival.
Countries that facilitate entry
Earlier this year, Ireland dropped its requirement for a pre-departure COVID test for vaccinated travellers. Fully vaccinated visitors will simply need to complete a Passenger Locator Form prior to departure and provide proof of vaccination or proof of recovery from COVID-19 within the last six months. However, from February 1, 2022, vaccine certificates will only be considered valid if they are no more than 270 days old or if travelers provide proof that they have received a booster shot. Unvaccinated travelers must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result within 72 hours of arrival in Ireland.
Effective January 26, Norway dropped its quarantine requirement for international arrivals. All US travelers aged 16 and over, vaccinated or not, can now enter Norway as long as they complete an entry registration form no later than 72 hours before arriving in Norway, present a negative COVID test ( PCR or antigen) taken no more than 24 hours before their departing flight to Norway and then take a free COVID-19 rapid antigen test upon arrival at Norway airport. Children under 16 are not required to take a test before arrival, but will be asked to take a test upon arrival. (An exception could be made “if it would be unreasonably difficult for them to pass the test”, according to the Norwegian government.)
On February 11, the UK drops its COVID-19 travel test requirement for fully vaccinated travellers. Instead, fully vaccinated travelers will simply need to complete a Passenger Locator Form 72 hours before arriving in the UK (compared to 48 hours currently), confirming their vaccination status, travel history and contact details. To be considered fully immunized, travelers must have received one or two full doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to arrival.
Additionally, unvaccinated arrivals will no longer be required to self-quarantine. Now they will need to present two COVID test results (either PCR or antigen) – one within two days of traveling to the UK and one just after arrival which must be booked and paid for in advance. All travelers under the age of 18 are subject to the same rules as fully vaccinated travellers, regardless of their vaccination status.
Countries that made entry a bit more difficult
In its latest update (dated January 22), the French government placed the United States on its “red list” of countries, which means that unvaccinated American travelers can only enter France if they have an essential reason, and fully vaccinated travelers from the United States can enter France if they present a health declaration form and a negative PCR or COVID-19 antigen test within 48 hours of their departure flight to France. France. Previously, the United States was on France’s “orange” or “amber” list, and fully vaccinated American travelers did not have to provide a negative COVID test.
Unvaccinated minors from the United States are allowed to enter France, but those aged 12 and over will need to present a negative PCR or antigen test taken within 48 or 24 hours, respectively, before their flight.
In addition, on January 24, France Sanitary pass (or Health Pass) officially becomes a Vaccination Pass (or Vaccine Pass), which is required to enter many establishments, including museums, cafes, restaurants, public transport and entertainment venues. Visitors can obtain the vaccine pass from pharmacies nationwide and must show that they are fully vaccinated to obtain it. (Proof of a negative COVID test no longer cuts it after a new law came into effect this month making vaccination a requirement for the pass.)
Starting January 24, all travelers aged five and over, regardless of origin or vaccination status, will be required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of arrival (or a rapid test within 24 hours before arrival) to enter Greece. Previously, a COVID test was not required for vaccinated travellers.
>> Next: What to do if your travel plans are disrupted by Omicron