European travel rules: Covid entry requirements for UK visitors to European countries including Spain and Austria

Three more countries have imposed tougher measures on UK travelers ahead of the busy Christmas and New Years season

Here are the travel rules for UK travelers to some of the main European countries. (Credit: NationalWorld / Mark Hall)

Travelers from the UK will face new restrictions across Europe as Omicron cases continue to rise on the continent.

Austria, Spain and Sweden are the latest countries to all tighten entry requirements as the busy holiday season kicks off in Europe.

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But as people prepare to go on vacation or to see their families over Christmas and New Years, the ever-changing entry rules for each country can be difficult to follow.

Here’s a handy list of everything you need to know to enter some of Europe’s most popular destinations this holiday season.


Austria was one of the first European countries to re-impose Covid measures in November – even before Omicron was reported on the continent – with a lockdown currently in place for all citizens.

Authorities have also confirmed that the UK will be classified as a ‘viral variant region’ from December 25, with new restrictions being introduced for UK travelers on the same day.

  • a mandatory 10-day quarantine for all unboosted travelers from the UK – those boosted will not need to self-isolate subject to a negative PCR result
  • a requirement for all travelers, regardless of their vaccination status, to present a negative PCR result within the last 72 hours
Graphic: Mark Hall / NationalWorld


French authorities had previously confirmed that British travelers would be banned from entering the country except for essential reasons

If you are traveling for an essential reason, you must:

  • provide their contact details to the French authorities
  • complete an international travel form to prove the essential reason for the trip
  • sign a “sworn statement” to certify that you have not been in contact with a positive case or that you are suffering from symptoms

Travelers over 12 years old must present a negative PCR / antigen test taken within the last 24 hours to enter the country.

Those traveling from the UK must self-isolate for 48 hours after arrival, with a negative PCR or antigen test required to come out of self-isolation at the end of this period; you must self-isolate for 10 days if your test result is positive.

People traveling by Eurostar will be asked to take an additional Covid test upon arrival at Gare du Nord in Paris, and vaccination status will be checked at St Pancras station in London upon departure.


Germany has previously blocked travel from the UK unless the people traveling are German citizens or a UK national residing in the country. This continues throughout the winter period.

Those who can travel within the country must:

  • complete a digital registration form before departure, regardless of vaccination status
  • provide a negative PCR result taken up to 48 hours before departure if you are traveling by plane, ferry, bus or train. For those traveling alone (i.e. by car), the PCR should be done 48 hours before entry, not before departure.
  • quarantine for 14 days at home after arriving in Germany, regardless of PCR result or vaccination status


Vaccinated UK travelers will be able to enter Spain for tourism purposes during the winter period, but will face additional checks as the country tries to protect citizens from the Omicron strain.

Those who are still not vaccinated cannot enter Spain for sightseeing.

Anyone traveling must complete the online form Health check form. This can also be completed in paper format prior to boarding and a QR code confirming that it has been completed must be scanned upon arrival.

Those traveling from the UK for tourism should also:

  • show proof of fully immunized status, with the last vaccine given at least 14 days before arrival
  • be subjected to temperature checks, a visual health check or tests on arrival

The Spanish authorities can require visitors to take a PCR test at any time up to 48 hours after arrival.


Sweden is another country that will introduce new restrictions for UK visitors.

  • all tourists, regardless of their vaccination status, must show proof of a negative PCR test result within 48 hours of arrival

For those traveling before December 28:

  • If you are fully vaccinated, you will not need to participate in a period of self-isolation if you received your second dose more than two weeks ago and the vaccine is approved by the European Medicines Agency.

It is recommended that all people arriving from the UK take a PCR before arrival.


Tourists who ski may have the best chance of hitting the slopes in Italy, with vaccinated British tourists being exempt from a quarantine period.

Fully vaccinated travelers from the UK do not need to self-isolate, but you should:

  • complete a passenger tracking form
  • show a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours or a negative antigen test taken 24 hours before arrival

The rules are stricter for unvaccinated travelers. Those who have not been vaccinated should:

  • complete a passenger tracking form
  • show proof of a negative PCR or antigen test performed at least 48 hours before arrival
  • inform the prevention service of the local Italian health authority of your entry into the country
  • travel to your final destination by private transport
  • self-isolate for five days and perform another PCR / antigen test at the end of this

Children under 18 do not need to be quarantined if traveling with a fully vaccinated parent and (for those over six) a negative test result is provided.

Children six and under do not need to take the test.

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