Those in the travel industry are watching for updates in real time. With news still unfolding daily, it’s been difficult to keep track of the latest requirements, says Misty Belles, spokeswoman for the luxury travel company Virtuoso.
Here is what we can tell you about travel to Europe.
Who can go to Europe?
Americans can already go to some European countries (E.U. member states and otherwise) by providing an approved negative coronavirus test result, inoculation status and/or quarantining on arrival. The E.U. has recommended that the bloc lift restrictions on U.S. travelers regardless of their vaccination status, although each of the 27 nations can set individual requirements for entry and quarantine.
Under a plan announced in May to accept American travelers, anyone who has been fully inoculated with a vaccine approved for use by the European Union — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson — for at least two weeks may travel to the bloc. Additionally, individual E.U. member states may accept other World Health Organization-approved options, such as China’s Sinopharm vaccine.
Where in Europe can I go?
The list of European countries open to Americans is changing quickly. Some countries such as France, Spain, Greece and Croatia are already welcoming vaccinated Americans.
When can I go?
Some countries are already allowing vaccinated Americans, but the larger E.U. bloc is expected to become accessible to U.S. travelers soon, according to German transport minister Andreas Scheuer, though no formal date has been given.
Depending on individual country requirements, Americans traveling to the European Union before July 1 may still face quarantine restrictions, depending on their destination.
Do I need a vaccine passport?
Yes. The European Union has launched its digital certificate system (a.k.a. a vaccine passport system) for E.U. residents (as well as those of Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) to travel unrestricted within Europe. The goal will be for Americans and other visitors traveling to the E.U. bloc to connect to the new system eventually, where they will have to provide proof of inoculation, evidence of a recent recovery from covid-19 or a negative test result to avoid quarantine requirements.
Randle Roper, co-founder and CEO of the LGBTQ travel company Vacaya, doesn’t predict there will ever be one universally accepted vaccine passport, “so it’s important for all travelers to be aware of each country’s requirements and then simply follow those protocols,” he said in an email. “Flexibility and a kind spirit are compulsory.”
Even if you download all the vaccine passports you need, you will also want to have your original vaccination card on hand. Rani Cheema, chief executive and travel curator at Cheema’s Travel, urges travelers not to laminate their original vaccination cards. She recommends that travelers put it in a protective sleeve and tape it to the inner back of their passport. Don’t forget to have a photo on your phone, as well as a physical copy of it for additional safekeeping.
Will I have to take a test to get into Europe?
Possibly. The new E.U. plans aim to reduce barriers for people traveling into and within the bloc; however, each member state is allowed to set individual requirements.
Countries such as Iceland and Greece allow travelers to skip the test if they can prove they’re vaccinated, while others may require a test instead of or in addition to a vaccine. Testing may allow travelers to skip quarantine requirements. Right now, airlines including Delta, American and United are offering quarantine-free flights for travelers who provide a negative coronavirus test result and test on arrival to a handful of European countries, such as Italy.
Can unvaccinated kids travel to Europe?
Yes. According to the European Commission, unvaccinated children can travel to the continent but will need to have a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival. E.U. member states may require additional testing for kids on arrival. As with everything, check for updated specifics before you go, as not all countries will have the same policy.
Will there be restrictions during my vacation?
Yes. Santander says every country will have its own take on coronavirus mandates, so travelers should be prepared to encounter a range of requirements. There may be reduced capacity at businesses and events in some destinations, while others may have done away with social distancing protocols altogether.
However, countries are already beginning to ease restrictions. For example, France announced that it’s removing its outdoor mask mandate and ended an eight-month nightly coronavirus curfew.
Will I have to quarantine on arrival?
It depends. Not all countries have done away with quarantine requirements, and vaccinated Americans may still face quarantine requirements depending on their destination. Belles says proof of full vaccination will eventually cancel out the need to quarantine, as has been the case with countries such as Iceland. Countries may also accept negative test results in place of quarantine.
The E.U. plan eliminates quarantine requirements for people traveling within Europe who can prove — via the digital certificate system — that they are vaccinated, have recently tested negative for the coronavirus, or have already recovered from covid-19.
Do I have to take a test to get back home?
Yes. Anyone traveling to the United States, regardless of vaccination status, must provide results of a negative coronavirus test taken within three days of departure or show proof that they have recovered from covid-19 in the past 90 days.