The rumors were true: Americans won’t be allowed to visit Europe this summer, with very few exceptions. Alongside hundreds of other countries, the United States of America has officially been excluded from travel to Europe this summer, but for other countries hoping to experience summer along a riviera, or a European capital, there’s good news ahead. 14 countries will soon be eligible to enter Europe as of July 1st, signalling a welcomed rebirth of international travel.
Not the United States. Travelers from: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay will all be able to enter the European Union without quarantine or other border restrictions for travel starting July 1st.
Brazil, China and the United States, three driving forces in world tourism have been excluded, though China is expected to be added once the country agrees to a reciprocal agreement, where visitors from the EU may once again enter China.
Why are these countries out? It’s got little to do with previous death tolls, which many EU nations suffered in equal or similar measure, and everything to do with current rates of infection and lack of preventative measure to curb the spread. The United States, with open movement between states wouldn’t easily create air bridges with other nations from certain states without significant legal challenges and logistical concerns.
Here’s the reasoning for allowing these 14 countries, as opposed to others, directly from the EU…
Regarding the epidemiological situation, third countries listed should meet the following criteria, in particular:
- number of new COVID-19 cases over the last 14 days and per 100 000 inhabitants close to or below the EU average (as it stood on 15 June 2020)
- stable or decreasing trend of new cases over this period in comparison to the previous 14 days
- overall response to COVID-19 taking into account available information, including on aspects such as testing, surveillance, contact tracing, containment, treatment and reporting, as well as the reliability of the information and, if needed, the total average score for International Health Regulations (IHR). Information provided by EU delegations on these aspects should also be taken into account.
Countries more dependent on tourism, including Greece, were expected to allow US travel despite the ruling, but rumors are strong that these countries will no longer break with the EU, and will indeed block US travel.
For now, even within Europe, countries are approaching the reopening to leisure travel differently, so this does not mean the free-for-all across all European borders it may once have. Nordic countries such as Norway and select Eastern European countries are currently the most restrictive to travel, and currently block visitors even from within the EU from entry.
Here’s a list of current border restrictions for popular European countries.
Still hoping to go somewhere?Countries such as Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Greece and many other perennial favorites have eased restrictions for European neighbors, the UK and now too for international visitors, so there are still plenty to choose.
First: if you’re an immediate family member of a current citizen of a European country, there’s a high likelihood you will be able to visit Europe this summer, even if your country may be excluded. Children, parents and spouses of people with passports from a Schengen or European country would be eligible to enter.
Here’s how the EU defines the exceptions for people hoping to travel from a country not on the list…
- EU citizens and their family members
- long-term EU residents and their family members
- travellers with an essential function or need, as listed in the Recommendation.
Schengen associated countries (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) also take part in this recommendation. In other words, these four countries will count towards any of the distinctions above, so a family member of someone from Switzerland, Iceland, Lichtenstein or Norway would also be fine.
What counts as eligible Family Member of EU citizens? Someone who is a non-EU spouse, child, dependent parent or dependent grandparent of an EU citizen is able to travel given the family exception. Emphasis is definitely on dependent for parents and grandparents, so be sure to check further details.
For those already in the EU who travel on passports issued from other countries, it’s much the same. Restrictions will limit entry for those originating journey from countries not mentioned above, but an American living in Paris shouldn’t have issue at many European borders.
Best practices are to check current IATA Travel Guidelines, and to cross check the information with any country resources from an official government, and then once again with TravelBans.org. If in doubt about your status and planning to travel, be sure to carry any relevant documents as to family relationships with someone holding a European passport, or any other necessary condition for entry.
Will Plans Change For International Travel?
You bet! For a start, the EU plans to update the approved country travel list every two weeks, which means many other nations could be added by the time summer takes full shape, provided they control the pandemic. Using the same logic, a sudden spike in cases from any country could mean exclusion, even for those currently approved.
That complicates things, no doubt, but there are still ways.
Make sure to only book with travel providers offering flexibility to change dates, cancel or amend a trip without penalty, and avoid booking any travel which doesn’t offer this vital flexibility. Hotels are among the most flexible in travel booking right now, offering risk free cancellation, in some cases up to the day before arrival, and many airlines are offering similar levels of ease for travel in 2020.