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Traveling to Europe? What to know about requirements for 5 countries.

Some countries want proof of vaccination, some want a negative test, and some want both

(iStock/Washington Post illustration)

Through both the delta and omicron variant surges, European countries put restrictions in place to contain the virus while allowing in coronavirus-free travelers. Now, some countries are beginning to ease some rules.

Still, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has given a Level 4 warning to much of Europe because of high levels of coronavirus transmission, and it recommends Americans avoid travel to top destinations such as Italy, France and the United Kingdom.

The omicron variant hit the European travel industry, which had just begun to recover from the pandemic. However, leaders in the industry are confident that Europe will again be able to offer a safe experience for travelers.

“We have clear rules — people, hotels and restaurants are clearly complying in order for you as an American to not only have the best experience, but the safest one,” said Luís Araújo, the president of the European Travel Commission and Tourism ​​Portugal.

So what kinds of restrictions will Americans encounter when traveling to Europe? Entry requirements can vary widely, from what type of mask to wear on the flight to vaccination proof. We looked at how five major European destinations are handling international visitors.


CDC warning: Level 4

Entry requirements: Fully vaccinated Americans, which now includes being boosted if eligible, need to show proof of vaccination and a signed declaration stating that they do not have symptoms of covid-19.

Unvaccinated travelers may only enter the country for compelling reasons. Unvaccinated people must show proof of a negative test taken 48 hours before departure, take a test once they arrive and then quarantine for 10 days at a location disclosed to the French government.

Restrictions once you’re there: To access most services and businesses in France — including restaurants, museums, concert halls, trains, domestic flights, shopping malls and tourist attractions — people over the age of 12 are required to show a pass sanitaire (health pass).

While some tourist attractions may allow Americans to show the CDC vaccination card for entry, it is generally not accepted. However, travelers can apply for a French health pass at a designated pharmacy; it costs about $41.

Unvaccinated people can obtain a 24-hour health pass with proof of a negative coronavirus test. However, the French Parliament recently approved plans for health pass legislation that, if passed by the Senate and the National Assembly, would require all people over 16 to be vaccinated to receive a health pass.

Starting Jan. 15, adults who received their last vaccination dose more than seven months ago, or people vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine more than two months ago, must have a booster shot to obtain a health pass.


CDC warning: Level 4

Entry requirements: Only vaccinated Americans can enter Spain for nonessential purposes. Starting Feb. 1, a booster will be required if your last vaccination was more than 270 days before arrival.

Americans will need to download a QR code through the Spain Travel Health portal to prove their vaccination status before arrival. If travelers arrive by air or sea, Spanish border agents will take their temperature and do a visual assessment of their health.

Spain is not mandating a quarantine for anyone entering the country. However, if border authorities suspect travelers of having the coronavirus because of an elevated temperature or visible symptoms, they can require those individuals to take a test.

Restrictions once you’re there: Once in Spain, make sure to check the regional restrictions in the areas you’re looking to visit.

The most common restrictions in Spain include masking in public spaces including outdoors, limited capacity in indoor businesses and restaurants, and proof of vaccination to enter restaurants and other public services.


CDC warning: Level 4

Entry requirements: Travelers coming from the United States, or who have been in the United States within the past 10 days, must provide proof they are fully vaccinated.

Those who have stayed in a risk area have to fill out a digital entry registration form and present it upon entry. Germany has designated the United States a “high risk area.”

Restrictions once you are there: Within Germany, there are tight restrictions in many regions, allowing only vaccinated or recovered people to enter nonessential businesses and services. Check requirements of the regions you plan to visit because restrictions may change based on the hospitalization rate.

Germany has a widely used open-source app for tracking transmission and cases. The free Corona-Warn-App lets people know anonymously and quickly if they have been near someone infected with the coronavirus.


CDC warning: Level 4

Entry requirements: Anyone flying to Italy needs to wear an FFP2 mask, not a surgical or cloth mask. Upon arrival, Americans have to fill out a passenger locator form, provide proof of a negative molecular coronavirus test from the past 72 hours or a negative antigen test from within the past 24 hours, and proof of full vaccination or recovery from the coronavirus.

For those without proof of vaccination or recovery, prepare to travel by a private vehicle from your point of entry to a place to quarantine for five days. These travelers must notify the local health authority of their arrival in Italy and test negative at the end of the quarantine.

Children under 6 years old don’t have to take pre-departure tests or prove their vaccination status, as long as they are with a vaccinated parent. Kids over 6 have to take a test, but they don’t have to quarantine unless their parent needs to.

Restrictions once you’re there: Be prepared to wear an FFP2 mask while riding public transportation and in performance venues, whether indoors or outdoors.

Italy uses a “Green Pass” as a vaccination card, but U.S. vaccination cards and documents proving recovery are widely recognized as an equivalent. You will need to carry this documentation for most public attractions and restaurants, as well as for riding local transportation.

Again, restrictions are different depending on the region you are in, so be sure to check local guidance.

United Kingdom

CDC warning: Level 4

Entry requirements: Fully vaccinated travelers no longer have to take a coronavirus test before entering the U.K. Regardless of vaccination status, all U.K. arrivals will need to complete a passenger locator form.

For England, Wales and Northern Ireland, travelers who are not fully vaccinated need to take a test before departing and a PCR test on or before their second day in the country. Scotland requires unvaccinated travelers to present a negative test taken no more than two days before departure.

Restrictions once you’re there: Vaccine pass rules vary across the United Kingdom, but CDC vaccine certificates are accepted. Scotland, England and Wales all have vaccine and testing requirements for nightclubs and large events. Be sure to check on specifics.