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COVID-19 RULES

COMPARE: What are the entry rules around Europe for American travellers?

While the EU has added the US to its so-called Covid "white list" for travel the rules for American travellers entering EU countries are decided on at a national level. That means there are differences depending on where you are going.

COMPARE: What are the entry rules around Europe for American travellers?
File photo taken on May 28, 2021 Travelers are seen at John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport. AFP

The Local knows from the many questions we get from readers just how many Americans wish to travel to Europe this summer, whether for a holiday, visit their second home or to see members of their family that they haven’t seen in a long time.

But despite lowering infection rates in most countries in Europe, travel remains problematic and in some EU countries it’s still banned, even for fully vaccinated Americans (see below for clarification on what ‘fully vaccinated’ means in travel terms).

It’s also worth noting that even before we get the rules in place across Europe, the US has its own rules that American travellers are supposed to adhere to when it comes to travel to European countries.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues travel advisories for each country with most countries in Europe ranked level 3, for which travel is advised against, or level 4 such as Sweden, where Americans are advised not to travel at all.

So it’s worth checking before you even look at what the rules are in the countries covered by The Local.

European Union

On Friday June 18th EU member states paved the way for the return of American tourists  when they agreed to add the US to the “white list” of countries with low Covid-19 rates.

But the list is only a recommendation with countries deciding at a national level what their entry policy is when it comes to borders.

EU member states can still choose to require travellers from these areas to undergo Covid-19 testing or to observe periods in quarantine, but once the new list is approved the recommendation is that they should be exempted from a blanket travel ban.

It was not immediately clear whether individual countries would follow the lead of the EU, with many already having imposed their own rules on travellers from the US.

Here’s a look at some of the rules imposed by some countries in Europe.

France

Since June 17th, the USA and Canada have been on France’s ‘green list’ for travel, which makes entering the country a lot easier. Both were previously on the orange list, which meant that only essential travel was allowed for people who were not fully vaccinated.

However all travellers from the USA and Canada can now enter France for any reason, including tourism, family visits and visits to second homes.

READ ALSO Everything you need to know about travel between France and the USA or Canada

Travellers who are fully vaccinated need to present only their proof of vaccination at the border and do not need a Covid test. 

Unvaccinated travellers will need a negative Covid test – either a PCR or antigen test – taken within the previous 72 hours.

All passengers will need to fill in a declaration stating that they have no Covid-19 symptoms – you can find the declaration HERE.

EXPLAINED How does France’s traffic light travel system work?

Italy

Italy has begun to allow entry from the United States under the same terms as the EU-wide ‘health pass’ scheme as of June 21st.

That means Italy’s ten-day quarantine rule will no longer apply to arrivals from the US who can provide proof of being fully vaccinated or having recovered from Covid-19, or can show a negative result from a test taken within the 48 hours before arrival in Italy.

Until now, Italy had only waived the quarantine rule for those who took special ‘Covid-free’ flights operated by four airlines.

Passengers don’t need to download an Italian ‘green pass’ – they can instead use health documents issued in the US, and these will be accepted by airlines and Italian authorities.

Under the new rules, “Those vaccinated in the USA can prove this via the ‘white card’ bearing a CDC logo,” according to the Italian Embassy in Washington.

All passengers also need to fill in a passenger locator form giving their contact details. Find it here.

Spain

On June 7th, Spain started to allow in vaccinated US citizens together with other immunised non-EU/EEA nationals who can now visit the country for non-essential reasons such as holidays.

The conditions for these travellers are that they completed their Covid-19 inoculation at least 14 days before travel to Spain and that they can prove their immunisation through a certificate or documentation “issued by the competent authorities” in the US (more info here). 

Before travelling to Spain, they have to complete a health control form on Spain’s Travel Health website or app in which they’ll have to confirm their vaccinated status to get a QR code to show at the airport together with the vaccination certificate. If you have problems getting your QR for travel through the site or app, here are some potential solutions

As things stand, American travellers who are not yet fully vaccinated cannot travel to Spain for non-essential reasons, but as the infection rate drops in the US and the vaccine rollout advances, the chances of the United States being included in Spain’s list of third countries which are exempt from travel restrictions will increase. 

The US State Department has also eased travel restrictions for Spain, meaning that American authorities have also given vaccinated US nationals the green light to travel to Spain. 

For a more in-detail look at what Americans need to know before travelling to Spain, click here

Germany

The German Government on June 20th lifted travel restrictions for people in the United States.

It means that travel to Germany from the US for all purposes, including tourism, is allowed again.

But there are restrictions: all air travellers aged six or older coming from the US must show either proof of vaccination, proof of recovery from Covid-19 or a negative Covid test result.

On entry, travellers must have proof of vaccination in written form (for example a CDC card) or digital form. The government says that a photo taken on a phone is not sufficient. 

All travellers must also not have any Covid symptoms. 

Germany removed the United States as a risk area as of June 13th 2021, which means people coming from the states do not have to register digitally before arrival. 

Denmark 

On June 19th, Denmark classed the US as “yellow”, meaning that even unvaccinated travellers who are permanent residents in the US can now travel from the US to Denmark for any reason, including tourism. 

US travellers who are not vaccinated or cannot document recovery from a Covid-19 infection need to show a negative test no more than 48 hours old at a border control checkpoint upon entry to Denmark.

Travellers arriving by air can do this on arrival at the airport, where there are facilities offering free tests before border control, but it might be safer to do so prior to departure. 

Permanent residents of the US who are travelling to Denmark from a third country outside of the EU or the Schengen area classed as “orange” will also need to show a negative Covid-19 test no more than 48 hours old before boarding their plane. 

Permanent residents of the US who are travelling to Denmark from a third country classed as “red” can only enter Denmark if they meet the shortest list of “worthy purposes”, which does not include business trips. 

Sweden

Americans can only enter if they’re covered by one of the exemptions (eg, close family reasons, a resident in Sweden, essential work).
 
They also need a negative test by law, and are recommended to isolate for 7 days. If they are fully vaccinated they are exempt from both test rules and the isolation recommendation, but even fully vaccinated people can only enter if they meet one of the categories for exemption from the travel ban.
 
So in other words Sweden hasn’t added US to their green/exempt list despite the the fact the EU has. But given Sweden normally follows EU recommendations for Covid travel lists, it may only be a matter of time before the travel between the US and Sweden opens up again.
 
The US Centre for Disease and Infection Control  (CDC) has classed Sweden as “Level 4 – Do not Travel”. According to the CDC level 4 “indicates a very high level of COVID-19 in the country.”
 
Sweden’s 14 day incidence rate is 131 cases per 100,000 people – lower in fact than Spain’s.

Austria

Austria ended its strict quarantine rules on May 19th after six months, which again allows arrivals from the Schengen area and a handful of other countries further afield (Australia, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Macau, New Zealand and Saudi Arabia). 

While Americans were not initially part of the new relaxed rules, this was changed on July 1st. 

From July 1st, Austria is allowing Americans and people from a handful of countries outside the Schengen area to enter. 

In order to enter, Americans must either be vaccinated, have recovered from the coronavirus recently or test negative to the virus. 

While people are recommended to bring a negative test with them, if they do not have one they will be allowed to do a test in Austria (within the first 24 hours of arrival). 

READ MORE: Austria to allow Americans to enter from July

Switzerland

Fully vaccinated travellers from third countries — including from the United States —will be able to enter Switzerland at the end of June.

Federal Council announced on Friday, June 14th, that it would likely be lifting remaining travel restrictions on June 28th.

However, a spokesperson from the Federal Office of Public Health confirmed to The Local that the decision was made to bring the date forward to midnight on Friday, meaning that the new rules will be in effect on the 26th of June. 

This means not only that there would no longer be any testing or quarantine requirements for vaccinated arrivals for citizens of Schengen area states, but also for those coming from third nations, that is, countries outside the EU / EFTA.

“In view of the positive developments in the epidemiological situation and the progress made in the field of vaccination, the Federal Council is proposing to greatly relax the prescriptions and health measures at the border for people entering Switzerland”, authorities said.

READ MORE: Switzerland set to reopen its borders to vaccinated Americans and Brits

Norway

Travellers from the US cannot currently enter Norway unless they are citizens or residents of Norway, with a few exceptions, such as visiting children or stepchildren under 18 who live in Norway or visiting a spouse.

You can see the complete list of exceptions here.

Travellers from the US who meet the exceptions and travel to Norway will need to register their journey before their arrival. This can be done up to 72 hours before their arrival.

In addition to this, they will need to provide documentation of a Coronavirus test, either a rapid or PCR test, taken within 24 hours of entry.

They will then need to be tested once again at the border and then undergo a ten-day quarantine period.

At least three of the ten days will need to be spent in a quarantine hotel. Arrivals from the US will be released after returning a negative PCR test taken on day three. The quarantine hotel costs 500 kroner per day per adult and 250 kroner for children aged between 10-17. The testing is free. 

The remaining quarantine period can be spent at home or anywhere with a private bedroom and bathroom.

Fully vaccinated

For countries that differentiate between vaccinated and non-vaccinated travellers there is a strict criteria in place on what constitutes ‘fully vaccinated’.

You must have received one of the vaccines approved for use by the European Medicines Agency; Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson (sometimes known as Janssen).

You must be two weeks after the second-dose for the double-dose vaccines or four weeks after the single-dose for Johnson & Johnson.

Transiting through Europe

With such differing entry requirements it may be tempting to think about travelling via another European country, however several countries have a 14-day rule in place. This states that you are considered as an arrival from the USA if you have been in the US for any time during the preceding 14 days, so if you are considering onward travel check carefully the rules of your destination country. 

Member comments

  1. This article needs to be updated. Since the end of last week travelers entering Italy from the USA (also from Canada and Japan) are no longer subject to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated or have a pre-flight negative test. The Covid-tested flights are redundant now. (Ministero della Salute, Ordinanza 18 giugno 2021)

  2. Agree with Joe’s comment. Italy updated their policies for travelers from US on 6/19 and again on 6/21. Please update info The Local staff and send accurate info to your subscribers. Thank you.

  3. Americans can enter Austria if they are residents of the EU. We are stationed in Germany and showed our EU visas and proof of vaccination and had no issues.

  4. Does anyone know what are the requirements for travel from the United States to Poland?

    Thank you

  5. Wheat is the rule if you’re traveling from Italy to Greece and back to Italy? Vaccination card used as a pass back into Italy?
    Thanks!

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TRAVEL NEWS

EXPLAINED: What’s behind the queues at Stockholm Arlanda airport?

Travellers are reporting queues over an hour long at Stockholm's Arlanda airport. What's going on and how long is it expected to last?

EXPLAINED: What's behind the queues at Stockholm Arlanda airport?

What’s the situation at Stockholm Arlanda airport? 

On Friday morning, there were queues lasting over an hour at Arlanda’s security controls. By 10am, they had been reduced to below half an hour, according to the live update the airport operator, Swedavia, maintains on its website here

Swedavia first began warning of long queue times on Monday, saying the queues were the result of a resurgence in travel combined with staffing shortages at Avarn, the contractor responsible for managing the security checks. 

“The wait times are due to a staff shortage with our security services contractor – which is caused by ongoing recruitment and absences due to illness,” the airport said on its website

What are travellers saying? 

Twitter is predictably awash with angry comments from travellers, including some well-known commentators. 

The terrorism researcher Magnus Ranstorp resorted to capital letters to bemoan the “CATASTROPHE” at the airport. 

The Financial Times’ Nordic Correspondent also compared the situation at Arlanda unfavourably with the smooth controls at Helsinki Airport

“Never seen anything like it and sounds like might be worse today. In Terminal 5 both queues, SAS and Norwegian, were well over 100 metres long,” he told The Local. “It took me 50 minutes to get through security. Don’t think it’s ever taken more than 10 in the Nordics before.” 

What should you do if you are travelling through Stockholm Arlanda at the moment? 

Swedavia recommends that you arrive “well in advance” when taking a flight. You can contact your airline here to find out when their check-ins and baggage drops open.  

Swedavia also recommends that you do everything possible to speed up the check-in process, such as:

  • checking in from home
  • packing hand baggage to make screening faster
  • checking the need for a face covering in advance
  • checking that you have the right travel documents ready 

If you can’t check in from home, Swedavia recommends seeing if you can check in using an automated machine at the airport.

What is the airport doing to to improve the situation? 

On June 15th, the airport is reopening Terminal 4, which might help somewhat, although the airport warns that as staffing is the major problem, having more space will not fully solve the problem over the summer. 

In a press release issued on Friday, Svedavia’s chief operations officer, Peder Grunditz, said opening a new terminal was “an important measure”. 

“We are now going to have the three biggest terminals back in operation for the first time since the pandemic,” he said. 

The company and Avarn are also making “big recruitment efforts” and taking “operational measures” to improve the queue situation, although the “challenging labour market” made that difficult. 

When will waiting times return to normal? 

In his press release, Grunditz conceded that waiting times were not likely to return to normal during the summer, due to the rapid growth in the number of people taking flights. 

“Even though we expect gradual improvements, the queuing situation is going to continue to be challenging during periods over the summer,” he said. 

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