What are the Covid entry rules for travellers to European countries?
- Many countries are reimposing restrictions amid surge of the delta and omicron variants. Here's a brief recap of what rules apply in the EU.
As pandemic regulations are being relaxed in some countries, others are tightening their entry rules again because of the surge of the delta and omicron variants. The situation in each country can change daily, meaning tourists, tour operators, hotels and restaurateurs must remain highly flexible.
Tourists from Australia, Canada and New Zealand, among others, can currently travel to many European countries. For several months US citizens were able to travel to Europe, but many countries reimposed strict entry rules in September. US authorities currently permit fully vaccinated visitors from the EU and UK back into the country. Meanwhile, the UK allows fully vaccinated tourists not on its red list to enter without needing to quarantine.
Tourism in Europe has been picking up — albeit under somewhat strict rules in certain cases. Here is an overview of the latest rules and most important information.
The European Union
An overview of EU travel measures, including information on the EU Digital Covid Certificate, is available via the European Commission website.
Detailed information regarding quarantine rules, testing requirements and more in the EU's 27 member states — along with non-EU Schengen countries Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland — can be accessed through the Reopen EU platform. You can also download the Reopen EU smartphone app for up-to-date information on the go.
Please note that every member state maintains its own rules for granting entry to third country travellers already within the EU or Schengen zone. Member states may require a negative Covid test upon arrival, or mandate a quarantine period after entry. In addition, EU countries have implemented a wide variety of social distancing rules, curfews and mask-wearing rules.
The European Union COVID traffic light system
The EU has introduced a traffic light system for a better overview of the epidemiological situation in individual member states. Three colours — red, orange and green — denote high-, medium- and low-risk areas in the bloc. Grey regions signify areas where insufficient data is available.
Please note: The information listed here is not exhaustive. It serves as a reference and is subject to change at any time. All travellers to and within Europe, the EU and the Schengen Area are strongly advised to consult the official guidance and regulations of local, state and national authorities in the relevant countries.
EU Digital COVID certificate
To ease EU travel, the European Parliament approved a digital Covid certificate that has been rolled out across the entire bloc. It shows that individuals have either been fully vaccinated, tested negative for the virus or recovered from the disease.
The document is issued by test centres and health authorities, and has been available in all EU member states since July 1. At this stage, however, only Covid-19 vaccination records performed by an official, government-mandated body within the European Union can be logged on the certificate. Vaccinations from outside the EU are not accepted yet.
As a general rule, anyone arriving in Germany — whether by airplane, car, train or ship — must present either a negative test result, proof of vaccination, or documentation proving their recovery from Covid-19.
Those arriving from designated high-risk and dangerous virus variant regions must meet additional criteria. Before setting off, individuals must register digitally. Arrivals from high-risk areas without proof of full vaccination or recovery must quarantine for 10 days. They may cease self-isolating if they can produce a negative test result on the fifth day.
Germany has declared South Africa, Zimbabwe and numerous other African states virus variant areas. Only German citizens and persons with German residency permits may enter the country. Moreover, all arrivals must quarantine for 14 days, even if they have been vaccinated or recovered.
Furthermore Germany classifies several regions as high risk, among them the United Kingdom and parts of Ireland, Greece, much of Austria, Croatia and Ukraine.
In Germany, certain safety precautions continue to apply in general, such as adherence to hygiene rules, keeping a minimum distance of 1.5 meters (5 feet) from others, and wearing a surgical face mask in enclosed, publicly accessible areas, as well as on public transport.
Travelers may enter France is they can show proof of vaccination, recovery, or a recent negative test result. Everyone must fill out an entry form stating that they don't have any Covid-19 symptoms.
Unvaccinated individuals arriving in France from green list countries — currently all EU states alongside Andorra, Canada, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland and others — must present a negative PCR or antigen test, or proof of recovery from Covid-19.
Unvaccinated individuals from red list countries such as Brazil, Cuba, Mozambique, South Africa, Pakistan and Russia — may enter France only for important purposes. They must take further Covid-19 tests and quarantine for 10 days.
For detailed information on entry requirements, consult the French Foreign Ministry website.
Entry to cultural events, public venues, bars, restaurants, malls, hospitals and access to long-distance flights, trains and busses, however, is possible only for those in possession of a Pass Sanitaire, a certificate showing you are either vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19. Alternatively, persons may show a negative coronavirus test no more than 24 hours old.
For tourists who are not fully vaccinated, a vacation in France might quickly become expensive, as Covid-19 tests are no longer offered free of charge.
Hygiene and social distancing rules remain in place. France's night-time curfew was lifted on June 20. Covering one's mouth and nose, however, is still obligatory in enclosed public places, crowded spaces and when traveling on public transport. Some areas of the country are showing higher incidence rates than others and have been classified by the French government as "red zones."
Coronavirus infection rates have been climbing since October and a Covid-19 state of emergency remain in place until December.
Arrivals from the EU or Schengen zone must present a passenger locator form and proof of either full vaccination, recovery from Covid-19, or a negative PCR or antigenic test result from the past 48 hours. The EU Digital Covid Certificate is the preferred form of documentation here, as well.
For everyone else, there is a complicated system consisting of five different levels, which comes with various testing and quarantining obligations.
Authorities have classified the country itself into four color-coded zones — white, yellow, orange and red — in accordance with the local coronavirus infection risk. Currently, all regions except Friuli Venezia Giulia fall into the white, low-risk zone, where people can move freely. Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy's north-easternmost region, is currently classified as a yellow zone.
Visiting indoor restaurants and bars, sporting events, museums, theatres, swimming pools, gyms, spas, festivals, fairs and amusement parks is permitted only for those who have been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19. Travelers wishing to board flights, trains and boats must fulfil one of these two requirements, or present a negative test result.
Mask-wearing remains mandatory in enclosed public places, crowded outdoor areas and on public transport. Government buildings and some shops also measure your temperature as you enter the premises. Social distancing is advised.
Infection rates have been edging upwards since late October, with the country's north most heavily affected.
All travellers to Spain must fill in a health form ahead of their trip. Most EU/EEA countries — such as France, Germany and Sweden — are currently deemed by Spain to pose an infection risk. Arrivals from these areas must show either a certificate of full vaccination, proof of recovery from Covid-19, or negative PCR or antigen test.
Regions can institute individual coronavirus safety rules, such as a maximum capacity for certain venues and establishments and limits on social gatherings. Across the entire country, masks must be worn in enclosed public spaces and on public transport but are not necessary outdoors if a minimum social distance of 1.5 meter can be maintained.
UK coronavirus cases have remained consistently high since late June. Most of the recent infections have been attributed to the more contagious delta variant.
The four nations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have simplified their travel rules. A single red list now designates countries deemed to pose a heightened infection risk. England currently classifies South Africa, Angola, Namibia and other African states as high-risk destinations. Even fully vaccinated arrivals from these countries must take a Covid-19 test prior to arrival, then self-isolate in a UK quarantine hotel at their own expense, and take two post-arrival Covid-19 tests. Arrivals must also complete a passenger locator form.
Authorities have ramped up security in a bid to halt the newly discovered omicron variant spreading. Now, vaccinated persons from all other countries must take a PCR test upon arrival and self-isolate until they receive a negative result. A passenger locator form must be completed as well.
The UK government said it will regularly review the red list and monitor the situation to make changes as needed.
Despite persistently high infection rates, the UK hospitality sector has been allowed to fully reopen, as have cultural venues such as museums and theatres. Masks are, however, compulsory once more in shops and on public transport.
Greece opened its borders for many travellers in hopes of boosting its economy. Residents of the European Union and Schengen Area countries may visit Greece for tourism purposes. They must show either proof of vaccination, a negative test result, or recovery from Covid-19 to enter. Travelers from other destinations may visit only for important reasons.
Anyone entering the country must fill out a digital passenger locator form before arrival. A QR-code will be part of the document generated by the form, which you have to show at border control. Failing to produce the QR-code may result in the inability to enter the country and a fine. You must also present either a negative molecular PCR or antigen test, proof of recovery or proof of vaccination. At least 14 days must have passed since the second dose of the vaccine was administered.
Greece has seen Covid-19 cases skyrocket since late fall. As a result, the government introduced strict measures for unvaccinated people. Many indoor spaces such as banks, public offices, retail outlets, shopping malls and entertainment venues are now inaccessible to anyone who is not immunized.
Under Greek law, local municipalities are also allowed to introduce mini-lockdowns with short notice if infection numbers rise rapidly, which chiefly means introducing night-time curfews and banning music.
A lockdown has been in effect in Austria since November 22, and will last until probably December 13. Travel to Austria for touristic purposes will only be possible again after that date. From today's perspective, entry from most European and some other countries is still possible without quarantine, if you can show proof of full vaccination, past infection or a PCR test.
Due to the spread of virus variants, nonessential travel from South Africa, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, and Suriname is prohibited.
Only about 65 per cent of the population are fully vaccinated and Austria has recently seen a record number of infections.
During the lockdown a curfew is in place in Austria, and all tourist facilities such as hotels, restaurants (only take-away possible), bars, cultural institutions, leisure centres are closed as well as non-essential businesses like hairdressers and gyms. Austrians have been told to remain at home and leave only for work, exercising, and grocery shopping. FFP2 masks must be worn in publicly accessible indoor spaces, social distancing is urged, and members of one household are asked to meet with no more than one person from another household.
This is the country's fourth national lockdown since the pandemic began. In a bid to boost the country's vaccination take-up, Austrian authorities are also making Covid jabs mandatory as of February 2022.
Meanwhile, strict rules will come into effect for next ski season. Winter sports enthusiasts will have to show proof of vaccination or recovery to use cable cars, gondola lifts and access ski cabins. FFP2 masks must be worn when using these modes of transport.
The popular travel destination is currently considered a high-risk area by Germany. Arrivals from EU countries and the Schengen zone must present the EU Digital Covid Certificate to enter Croatia. Alternatively, they may produce a negative PCR or rapid antigen test result, an official certificate showing that they received two doses of an EU-endorsed vaccine, or a certificate showing they have recovered from Covid-19 and have received one dose of the vaccine. Children under the age of twelve are exempt from presenting proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test result.
Third-country nationals may enter Croatia only if they have pressing ground for doing so.
Upon entry, travellers must register their contact details and where they will be staying in Croatia. The Croatian Ministry of the Interior recommends that the contact and residence data be submitted online in advance to avoid wait times up on entry.
Croatia has also restricted travel rules from several countries due to the new coronavirus variant. Arrivals from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Hong Kong, will need to quarantine for 14 days with obligatory testing.
Cafes, bars, restaurants and bakeries are open. Individuals are urged to wear masks indoors, unless eating, and outdoors when it is impossible to socially distance. Cinemas, museums, theatres and other such venues are operating with limited capacity and shorter opening hours. There is also a ban on the sale of alcohol at night.
More information here
Tighter restrictions have come into force in the Netherlands, as it tries to curb a record-breaking wave of Covid-19 cases that is swamping its healthcare system and growing concerns over the new omicron variant. For at least the next three weeks (December, 19), hospitality and cultural venues such as cafes, museums, and cinemas must close between 5 p.m. and 5 a.m.. As of November 29, around 70 per cent of the population are vaccinated.
The Netherlands considers most EU and Schengen states high-risk regions and therefore requires arrivals from there to show proof of vaccination, proof of recovery or a negative test result to be granted entry. The Czech Republic, Poland and Malta, meanwhile, are classified as low-risk areas. Individuals from these countries can enter without meeting any special requirements.
Persons arriving from "safe" countries outside the EU and Schengen zone, such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand, must show proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter the Netherlands.
Those from high-risk and very high-risk areas outside the EU and Schengen zone face far stricter entry requirements. The Dutch government restricted air traffic from southern Africa due to concerns over the new omicron coronavirus variant. Currently, the United Kingdom is deemed a very high-risk area. Individuals from the UK must quarantine on arrival, even when vaccinated, and show a negative Covid-19 test result.
Face masks remain mandatory on public transport and other passenger transport and at airports, as well as in shops. You will need to show proof of vaccination to enter certain venues, including restaurants, or a proof of a negative test if you are not double jabbed. Hospitality and cultural venues have to ensure people are seated 1.5m apart, which means fewer people can be admitted to these locations.
Entry is granted to arrivals from the EU and Schengen zone if they can show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19 or a negative PCR or antigenic test. Those arriving by air must also complete a passenger locator form.
Arrivals from high-risk countries — defined as countries with 500 cases or more per 100,000 inhabitants in the past 14 days — are required isolate for two weeks. Those on essential business or staying in Portugal for less than 48 hours are exempt.
A recent rise in coronavirus infections has compelled the government to reintroduce tighter pandemic restrictions. From December 1, wearing a face mask will once again be mandatory in enclosed spaces; a digital certificate proving vaccination or recovery from the coronavirus must be shown to enter restaurants, cinemas and hotels; and even inoculated people must have a negative test to visit hospitals, elderly care homes, sports events and bars and discos. Regulations can vary by region.
Anyone traveling to Switzerland must register electronically. This includes people on plane journeys that only stop over in Zurich or any other airport. Anyone arriving in the country — whether by air, road or rail — must show a negative PCR or antigen test if they have neither received a full vaccination, nor recovered from Covid-19. In these cases, a second test four to seven days after arrival is mandatory as well.
To dine indoors, and attend indoor culture and leisure facilities, visitors must show a valid Covid certificate proving that they are either fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid. The same holds true for large-scale events and nightclubs The EU certificate is recognized.
Coronavirus infections have spiked since late September, despite the country's high vaccination rate, prompting authorities to reintroduce safety regulations. Anyone wishing to enter restaurants, cafes and nightclubs must show proof of vaccination, Covid-19 recovery, or a negative test result. The same conditions apply for indoor events with 200 attendees or more, and outdoor events with over 2,000 guests.
To enter the country, travellers must once more prove they either fully vaccinated, or have recovered from Covid-19. Alternatively, they may show a negative test result. In Denmark, tests can be taken free of charge.
Mask-wearing is advised at airports, test centres and hospitals.
The completion of a digital entry form is mandatory for everyone upon arrival to the Czech Republic. Arrivals from the EU must neither quarantine, or get tested before or after arrival if they have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 in the past 180 days. Unvaccinated travellers are obliged to undergo tests to determine the presence of SARS-CoV-2 and eventually undergo self-isolation according to the colour of the country they hail from and how it falls into the traffic light system, ranging from green to very dark red (high risk). As of November 27, the Czech Republic has shut its borders to anyone who has stayed in South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia for more than 12 hours in the last 14 days.
Entry is not possible from countries deemed by the Czech Republic to pose an extreme risk of Covid-19 infection. Exceptions are only granted to Czech citizens, Czech residents, foreigners with long-term residency permits and diplomats.
A 30-day state of emergency came into effect on November 26, as the Czech Republic saw a record-high Covid-19 cases. The government has introduced measures to stop the spread of Covid which include a ban on all Christmas markets across the country and people not being allowed to drink alcohol in public places. Bars, restaurants, nightclubs, discotheques and casinos have to close at 10 pm. The number of people at culture and sports events is limited to 1,000 who are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19. Just over 58 per cent of the Czech population has been fully vaccinated.