a colorful tiled bench in a city

There is very little that’s “easy” about travel in Europe right now, particularly if you’re coming from outside the bloc. More than 16 countries require proof of vaccination for just about everything indoors, but that only becomes a problem once you’re in.

That’s where the nerve racking research starts. Do I need a test? What if I am going to another country? Will my vaccination certificate be accepted?

Making matters trickier, some countries recognize foreign vaccination proof at the border, but not for activities once inside. They require even fully vaccinated visitors to be tested every few days, just to obtain a QR code allowing them to enter cafes and museums.

Others, like France and Germany, have made it relatively easy, allowing people to convert their foreign vaccination proof into an EU Digital Covid Certificate, and in the case of France, before they even enter the EU. Basically, it’s a minefield.

Even once a European Digital Covid Certificate (EU DCC) pass is obtained, travel within the bloc, which has always ben built on “free movement” is currently anything but that. Each country has varying rules for vaccinated people and where they’re coming from, which are holding travel back significantly.

The European Commission is looking to change that…

a trolleys on a street

Europe Simplifying Travel

With cases unfortunately on the rise, the good news may be delayed, but Europe is actively looking to simplify travel restrictions within the bloc, and make free movement possible, yet again.

If people are vaccinated, they should be fine for all activities and border procedures without testing.

Bloomberg was first to report on the proposals, which create a more binary system for all countries to work with. Basically, you’re either fully vaccinated and are not subject to testing or quarantine in any country, or you’re not and you are.

This would alleviate the current uncertainty people face when moving from one EU country to another, due to regularly changing entry and testing protocols. Some EU countries say vaccinated visitors can enter without testing, yet others demand both.

It’s made checking in for flights online a thing of the past, among others.

“Given the very sizable impact on the exercise of free movement, persons traveling within the EU should in principle no longer be required to quarantine save for very exceptional situations (e.g. new variants of concern),” 

European Commission

Even if the EU adopts the commission’s second (lesser) proposal, which would still have color coded rules for each country, the aim is to create a more uniform approach. Countries would simply be “red” or “green”, much like the system used by the UK.

If people are fully vaccinated, the rules would be simple and uniform for all non “red” countries both at the border and inside. There would also be greater warning and data transparency around any moves from a safe “green” country to “red”.

a passport with a eagle on it

Get An EU DCC Certificate

Getting an EU DCC certificate from abroad, before arrival into the EU is the smartest thing potential visitors can do. Most of Europe accepts the NHS digital certificates from the UK, but not those from the USA and elsewhere, automatically.

Submitting “proof” of an upcoming flight to France can secure an EU DCC certificate with relative ease. It took 7 days for mine to arrive, and under 4 days for my partner, all done through standard online form channels.

GSTP believes these requests are usually processed based on the date of arrival, so the “sooner” you arrive, the better.

These EU DCC passes have made transit and travel through countries like Greece, Spain and others miraculously easy. Whenever proof of vaccination is needed to enter any bars, restaurants, hotels or museums, the QR code on the phone does the trick in seconds.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Silly question… but do you have to transit or visit France to actually secure the EU DCC or you can obtain it and enter via Frankfurt or Greece?

  2. I guess my question is what if i dont have an intention of visiting France but rather just Greece and Spain (for example) and I wanted the EU DCC ahead of time?

  3. I would tend to believe that obtaining the QR is not a “first in – first out” process. I applied early and my QR code took 35 days before being released 2 days before my flight. I had inquired mid-way through the process if my documents were OK and received a reply that they were acceptable. The delay was said to be due to high volume.

    1. My data point is that I submitted my partners docs on Day 1, for a trip taking place theoretically on Day 5. On Day 3 we had an answer. I did mine for a trip starting 7 days out, had mine on Day 6. Just two data points, but zero issues.

  4. This is only really an issue if moving between countries, correct? My wife and I have a trip to Italy planned this weekend, but we will be staying within Italy. We are both fully vaccinated, have received our boosters and have the NYS Excelsior Pass Plus which, we were told, works in the EU. Here’s hoping all that is enough.

    Regardless, like you said — it’s a minefield.

  5. I tried getting French EU DCC before last month trip (to Portugal). Got summarily denied, in French, without explanation, about a week after I applied. By that time, we were already in Portugal.

  6. Just returned from a 3 1/2 week trip to Spain and Germany. My experience was that my locally provided – from this side of the pond – QR code and vaccine info was universally accepted wherever/whenever it was requested and the EU certificate was not needed. YMMV

  7. I had my vaccine shots in NYC, including a third booster shot. I entered the UK at Heathrow with no trouble. But when leaving the UK to go to Portugal, they tried to tell me my vaccine card wasn’t accepted by the UK. It took a senior border agent to come along and tell me it would be accepted. I can’t follow the changes as they are happening too fast, and vary so much by country. The EU and UK should try to coordinate this but good luck with that.

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