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What are the COVID entry rules for travelers to European countries?
The hospitality sector in Europe is breathing a sigh of relief. As COVID incidence rates fall, restrictions are being relaxed, making tourism possible again. DW Travel offers a brief recap of what rules apply in the EU.
Summer, sun, surf, sandy beaches, and lots of culture: vacationing in Europe is once again a possibility for many - but only cautiously so.
As coronavirus infection numbers continue to fall across much of Europe, many countries are lifting lockdowns and easing travel and entry requirements. But while COVID rules are being relaxed in some countries, others are tightening their entry rules again due to the surge of the Delta variant. As was the case before, the situation in each country can change from one day to the next, which again requires flexibility from tourists and tour operators, hotels and restaurateurs in the summer of 2021.
Tourists from Israel, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, among others, can already travel to Europe. And since June 20, US citizens have also been able to do so again.
As of July 1, travel restrictions have been lifted for other
countries jointly selected by EU member states. Tourism in Europe is picking up again. 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 travelers 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 colors — 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, serves as a reference only and is subject to change at any time. All travelers 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, European lawmakers 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 centers and health authorities, and has been available in all EU member states since July 1, 2021. At this stage, however, only COVID vaccination records performed by an official, government-mandated body within the EU can be logged on the certificate. Vaccinations from outside the EU are not accepted yet.
For more information, visit the COVID Certificate platform.
Across Germany, coronavirus infections have initially been falling drastically, dropping to a mere five cases per 100,000 residents within seven days on av
erage early in the summer. In late July, that number has risen to ten cases. Politicians are monitoring the situation with caution.
As a general rule, before boarding a flight to Germany, all travelers must present either a negative test result, proof of vaccination, or documentation proving their recovery from COVID-19. Before setting off, individuals must also register digitally.
Those arriving from designated risk areas, high incidence regions, and territories marked by concerning virus variants must meet additional criteria: Arrivals from risk areas must quarantine for 10 days, but can cease self-isolating if they produce a negative test result usually on the fifth day. Germany currently classifies parts of Ireland and Denmark, Greece, Spain, the Netherlands and some non-EU regions such as Thailand and the
Maldives as such risk areas.
Individuals from high incidence regions must also quarantine for 10 days, but can stop isolating if they can produce a negative test result five days after arrival. Germany classifies Egypt India, Iran, Russia and Colombia among others as high incidence areas. The UK is also now considered a high incidence region after being classified as virus variant region earlier.
Travelers from virus variant regions must quarantine for 14 days without exception. Brazil, Malawi, Namibia and South Africa are currently categorized as such - in addition to several others. Only German nationals and individuals with German residency permits are permitted to enter the country from such coronavirus variant regions.
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 ft) from others, and wearing a surgical face mask in enclosed, publicly accessible areas as well as on public transport.
More information here
Fancy a jaunt to France, or an extended stay even? There is some good and some bad news: Fully vaccinated travellers are no longer subject to restrictions to travel to or from France, whatever the country of departure.
For those who are not yet fully vaccinated, there are certain rules in place: Non-vaccinated travellers arriving from the UK, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, the Netherlands and Greece must present upon boarding a negative PCR or antigenic test taken less than 24 hours before departure.
For those non- vaccinated travelers arriving from France' green list of countries (European Union, Andorra, the Holy See, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, Albania, Australia, Bosnia, Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States and Vanuatu), there's a bit more time to get your papers in order: they must present either proof of full vaccination, or a negative PCR or antigenic test taken less than 72 hours before departure.
Entering France from red list countries (Afghanistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Russia, Seychelles, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Tunisia, Uruguay and Zambia) is highly discouraged and may be subject to additional rules such as having to take further COVID tests and quarantining.
For detailed information on entry requirements, consult the
French foreign ministry website.
French public life is gradually returning to normality but only for those who are vaccinated. The country is reacting to the spread of the Delta variant. As of July 21, entry to cultural sites will no longer be possible without prior proof of vaccination. From August 1, access to longdistance trains, coaches, restaurants, cafés and shopping centers will also only be possible only with a vaccination certificate or a negative PCR or antigen test no more than 48 hours old.
For tourists who are not fully vaccinated, a vacation in France might quickly become expensive, as the COVID tests are no longer offered free of charge.
Meanwhile, hygiene and social distancing rules remain in place. France's nighttime curfew was lifted on June 20. It is no longer mandatory to wear masks in public. Covering one's mouth and nose, however, is still obligatory when indoors, and when travelling on public transport.
More information here
Itching to visit Italy, the country famed for its food and rich history? No problem if you're from an EU country, the Schengen zone, Israel, Canada, Japan or the United States. Arrivals 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.
For everyone else, there is a complicated system consisting of five different levels, which comes with various testing and quarantining obligations. Ultimately, entering and traveling through Italy is prohibited for individuals who in the past fourteen days stayed in or transited through Brazil, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Authorities have classified the country itself into four colorcoded zones — ranging from white, yellow, orange to red — in accordance with the local coronavirus infection risk. Currently, all of Italy falls into the white, low-risk zone, where life has almost returned to lively prepandemic times.
Bars, restaurants and other establishments are open, with outdoor and indoor seating allowed. Swimming pools have reopened, as have gyms, spas and amusement parks. Maskwearing remains mandatory, however, in enclosed public places, crowded outdoor areas and on public transport. Social distancing is advised. Some of the beaches require prior booking to ensure social distancing between sunbathing spots.
More information here
While the coronavirus situation has stabilized across Spain, the country is nevertheless recording the third-highest number of cases per capita of all EU countries. Regions like Andalusia and Catalonia are reporting particularly high infection rates, as are the Balearic islands. These areas are likely to introduce nighttime curfews soon.
Still, visitors from the European Union and Schengen zone eager to get their fix of Spanish tapas and sunshine are in luck, as the country reopened its borders to tourists on June 7. Note, however, that upon return to your home country you might be subject to quarantine rules because of the volatile situation in these regions, and your home governments might advise against traveling to Spain for tourist purposes.
To enter the country, all travelers must fill in a health form ahead of their trip. Upon arrival, they must also show either a certificate of full vaccination, recovery from COVID-19, or negative PCR or antigen test — issued within 48 hours prior to arrival — to be granted entry. Only visitors from Brazil, India and South Africa are still not allowed to enter Spain for tourist purposes.
Most restrictions on ordinary life are being lifted, though these vary by region. Nightclubs may open in areas where the incidence rate remains under 50, though using the dance floor may only be permitted outdoors. Spain's northeastern Catalonia region, too, has instituted a maximum capacity for many such venues and establishments, as case numbers continue to be a point of concern there.
Across the entire country, masks must be worn in enclosed public spaces and on public transport.
More information here
England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have adopted a traffic light system similar to the EU model, categorizing countries into high-, medium- and lowrisk zones. Entry requirements and quarantine rules vary, depending on this classification, and are subject to rapid change.
Individuals from red-listed countries and territories — currently including Brazil, India and South Africa — may only enter if they are UK or Irish nationals, or hold residency rights in the UK. In this case, they must take a COVID test prior to arrival, then self-isolate for 10 days in a quarantine hotel at their own expense, which costs at least GBP1,750 (2,000 euros).
Individuals from amber-listed countries and territories, which include many EU member states such as France and Germany, are required to take a COVID test prior to arrival, and two further tests on day two and eight after entry. Travelers must cover the costs for these tests. They are also required to quarantine at home, or their temporary residence, for 10 days. They can opt to pay extra to take an additional test on day five to be released from quarantine early.
Entering the United Kingdom from green-listed countries or territories is relatively simple, necessitating only a pre-departure COVID test, and a day two COVID test after arrival. Australia, New Zealand and Singapore among others are currently on this list.
All travelers entering the UK, regardless of departure country or nationality, must complete a passenger locator form.
The UK hospitality sector has been allowed to fully reopen, as have cultural venues like museums and theaters. This full easing of restrictions started July 19,despite a surge in SARS-CoV-2 Delta cases, the virus variant first detected in India. The UK is the only country so far to completely do away with government restrictions but is still advising locals and visitors alike to act with care and caution.
More information here
For anyone dreaming of escaping to the seaside, visiting ancient monuments, or simply island-hopping, Greece has gradually opened its borders for many visitors since mid-May. Residents of the European Union and Schengen Area countries, the USA, the UK, Serbia, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, the Russian Federation, Israel, Canada, North Macedonia, Ukraine, China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Belarus, Bahrain, Bosnia- Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Japan, Lebanon, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Jordan, Moldova, Brunei, and Kosovo may visit Greece for tourist reasons.
Anyone entering the country must fill out a digital passenger locator form no later than the day before arrival. They 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).
The Greek government has lifted most of their coronavirus restrictions. However, a nighttime curfew remains in effect from 1:30 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. and museums and other places of mass tourism remain closed. Taverns have opened their outdoor areas, while distancing rules must be observed on beaches and face masks are mandatory at all public venues. Greece will reexamine its COVID rules on July 26.
More information here
Austria is taking the protection of its borders still quite seriously. Anyone entering Austria must present either a negative test, proof of recovery or vaccination. A person is considered vaccinated 22 days after receiving their first dose. If you cannot provide any of those documents upon arrival, you are subject to a 90 euro-fine. Due to the Delta variant of COVID-19, non-essential travel from Great Britain remains prohibited.
The seven-day incidence has fallen below 8 in Austria and more than half of the population has been vaccinated at least once.
Restaurants, hotels, theaters and sports facilities have all reopened. A negative test or proof of vaccination or recovery is required. The same is true for nightclubs, which have reopened but are only allowed to operate at 75% capacity. This limitation is also expected to be lifted on July 22. Most such places, however, will require you to leave personal details for tracking purposes if required.
Since July 1, masks are no longer be mandatory to be worn if a person can present a negative test or proof of recovery or vaccination. Social distancing rules have also been abolished as long as a negative test or proof of recovery or vaccination can be shown. Cloth masks, however, are still required on public transport, inside shops and in government offices.
Public events will also soon be permitted to take place once more without limits to attendance numbers.
More information here
Croatia said it would base its entry rules on the EU's COVID-19 traffic light system, meaning that anyone coming from a green area could enter without restrictions. All others would have to provide a negative test or official proof of vaccination or recovery — but that was only in theory.
On July 1, Croatia surprisingly — and without any prior notice — decided to change its COVIDbased entry requirements. Whereas EU citizens from countries with low infection rates, including Germany, were previously able to travel to Croatia without any additional conditions or restrictions, border officials have now started to require all travelers to present the new EU Digital COVID Certificate.
People who do not have the certificate need to produce a negative PCR test result, a rapid antigen test result, an official certificate showing that they received two doses of vaccine used in EU member states or a certificate showing they have recovered from COVID-19 and have received one dose of vaccine. These new measures have led to long traffic jams at the border crossings in early July.
Since June 12, cafes, bars, restaurants, bakeries, and casinos have been allowed to operate in Croatia until midnight. Restaurants are allowed to receive guests in their indoor areas, except for cafés without food service, which are only allowed to serve outside. No alcohol may be sold between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. and Croatia's beaches are subject to certain access restrictions.
More information here
The Netherlands has issued public advice against tourist travel for the time being, registering more than 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days. Those traveling from
Germany or other Schengen-countries by land, however, do not have to show a negative PCR or antigen test, nor do they have to go into quarantine. If travelling by air, individuals must complete a health declaration form. Arrivals from high-risk, very high risk and virus variant regions remain obliged to show a negative COVID-19 test result and quarantine.
Tighter contact restrictions are once again in place in the Netherlands: night clubs have also been closed, while other recreational facilities operate with capacity restrictions and limited opening hours, subject to hygiene and social distancing rules. These include restaurants, museums and retail stores. Visitors are also required to leave their contact information for tracking purposes in most places. Masks remain mandatory.
These stricter rules are set to apply until at least August 13. Authorities plan to reevaluate the restrictions then.
More information here
Portugal is a good example of how quickly the situation can change. The country seemed to be on its way back to normality when the Delta variant was found to have reached Lisbon last month. Urban areas are now subject to certain restrictions.
The Portuguese government has reintroduced nighttime curfews in parts of of the country; residents of Lisbon and of 45 other municipalities have to stay at home from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. on weekends until further notice. There is also a travel ban between the capital region, which is particularly affected, and the rest of the country.
In certain areas, restaurants have to close at the weekends as early as 15:30. In addition to Lisbon, there are 16 other cities that are affected by this particular restoration — as well as Albufeira region in the Algarve, which is popular with tourists.
Portugal had opened its doors to visitors from the rest of the EU and the UK only in June under the provisor that people from these countries where the COVID infection rate is below 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in a 14-day period are allowed to enter without quarantine requirements. A negative test or a vaccination or recovery record, however, is still required upon entry.
Also, due to the high incidence rate in Portugal, you might face quarantine rules or other restrictions when you return back home. Travellers to Portugal from Germany, for instance, have to quarantine for for days and take a test if they are not fully vaccinated. The quarantine obligation does not apply to those who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from a COVID infection in recent months.
More information here
Switzerland has reopened its hotels, museums, stores, theaters, cinemas, zoos and amusement parks to visitors in early June already. Since June 28, the mask requirement has been lifted in outdoor areas including train stations.
There are no more limitations on group sizes in restaurant terraces, and those who have the EU COVID certificate you are even allowed to go to nightclubs and attend events with up to 5,000 participants.
Everyone entering Switzerland must register electronically and show a negative test. Vaccinated and recovered people do not need to register — for the time being.
Only those coming from a country designated by Switzerland as a risk area have to go into quarantine. To decide whether a country or area has an increased risk, Switzerland looks at the incidence of new infections per 100,000 people in the last 14 days. If the incidence rate of a country is at least 60 higher than the incidence rate in Switzerland, the country is put on the "black list."
More information here