Europe, or rather the European Union, officially plans to welcome vaccinated Americans for travel, tourism and business this summer. How official? EU President Ursula Von Der Leyen, The President of the European Commission, says so, and that’s about as official as it gets.
Despite the good news, many questions remain about what reopening travel means in practicality for people like you, like how to prove vaccination status, whether all the EU countries will play ball, and of course – when?
Here’s everything you need to know about potential travel to Europe, based on the latest information available.
EU To Welcome Vaccinated Americans
A number of EU countries had already announced plans to welcome vaccinated Americans this summer, and some already are. Even non-vaccinated Americans are welcome in places like Greece and Croatia at the moment. France also noted plans to welcome vaccinated Americans this summer.
But now, the wider EU bloc, made up of 27 member states plans to welcome Americans once again, after more than a year of travel bans preventing entry. This means traveler favorite destinations like Spain, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Germany and countless others should be open to vaccinated Americans this summer.
Some may even allow people who have not been vaccinated, but take a negative test before departure, on a country by country basis.
When Is Europe (EU) Opening To Americans?
In announcing plans to welcome vaccinated Americans this summer, the EU President did not mention a specific date. Instead, it’s expected each country will set their own dates, based on the epidemiological situation in each region. Some EU countries are already open though.
As noted, options like Greece, Iceland and Croatia already exist. Von Der Leyen expects Europe to have 70% of adults vaccinated by July, which would create a compelling case for reopening by, or even before this date, particularly as studies suggested vaccinated travelers pose very little risk, largely unable to transmit the virus.
What Proof of Vaccination Will Travelers Need?
At the moment, this isn’t entirely clear. Countries have been accepting certificates of vaccination from the US CDC, but these certificates are not entirely tamper proof, and if the US is going to open to Europeans to create bilateral moves, a better system will need to be created.
Israel, for example, is accepting crude proof of vaccination, but is rapid testing all arrivals for markers of vaccination upon arrival, to confirm there’s no foul play.
The EU is working on ‘green passports’, which would potentially be a more secured digital solution. Airlines and countries are also working with the IATA Travel Pass app, which would seek to allow countries to validate vaccination status directly, so that a traveler would not be able to fidget with a piece of paper.
The same would apply to negative covid-19 test results, where approved laboratories would upload results directly to the app, rather than pass them onto a traveler. A QR code would appear on the app with a “check mark” once the requirements to travel are fulfilled, making it easy for airlines and countries to validate documents.
Will Children Need To Be Vaccinated To Travel?
This is also not entirely clear at the moment. Children under 16 are largely not eligible or approved to receive covid-19 vaccine at the moment, which has parents considering travel with their shoulders shrugged. Generally speaking, countries will accept a negative test for children, or no test at all for the youngest children.
Looking at current policies, exemptions are made on a country by country basis with varying age levels. In most cases, a negative test is accepted in lieu of any vaccination, for children under a certain age, and above a certain age.
Greece specifies a negative PCR test is required for children over 5, but children are welcomed without vaccination, on the basis of a negative test, just like adults. Croatia sets the age where no testing is required at 7 years old. Young children are largely fine to travel, but older children may need a PCR test.
Can You Travel From EU Country To EU Country Freely?
Most, but not quite all ‘border checks’ within the EU have been dropped. Once again, once inside the EU, it’s widely possible to travel from one EU country to another, with no need to pull out a passport or any other formality.
If you’re planning to travel from one intra-EU country to another, confirm current border restrictions in advance of travel, particularly if traveling by air. Travel by land, including car and rail journeys are less likely to require checks, but air journeys may not require any entry scrutiny either.
Travel To Europe Is Back!
After more than a year “locked out”, millions of Americans once again have a chance to visit Europe. It’s widely expected that the Biden administration will remove blanket travel bans on European and UK citizens in the weeks or months to come as well.
Obviously, not all questions about the nuts and bolts of travel have been answered, yet, but we’ll update this page as new information comes to light. One thing is for sure, it’s great to start thinking about international travel again.