Today is the day. From February 1st, the European Union is moving to a personalized approach to covid-19 restrictions, rather than a region based approach.
The idea is that the covid-19 documents you possess, rather than where you’re coming from, will define any restrictions. And ideally, no further restrictions would be required.
The move is potentially huge news for millions of travelers, but some won’t be able to instantly feel the benefit. Here’s everything you need to know about these new rules, and how they’ll impact future trips in and around the region.
Europe’s New Personalized Travel Restrictions
Currently, travel restrictions in and around Europe are much like the rest of the world: highly unpredictable.
Travel restrictions are set based on the departure and arrival country, and with constantly changing epidemiological positions in each county, the rules about things like covid-19 testing or isolation in travel keep changing.
Europe is moving to change that, and the European Digital Covid Certificate is at the core of the plans. Anyone with a valid EU DCC pass or recognized equivalent shouldn’t be subject to any travel testing or restrictions in Europe under the plans.
Under the new recommendation, COVID-19 measures should be applied taking into account the person’s health status rather than the epidemiological situation at regional level, with the exception of areas where the virus is circulating at very high levels (dark red areas). This means that a traveller’s EU digital COVID certificate should be the key determinant.European Union Commission
Countries can still choose to add a requirement, but most have not done so. In fact, most, like Spain, have chosen to remove testing for fully vaccinated visitors already, and countries such as Denmark are quickly removing all covid-19 related restrictions domestically too, including masks.
Bottom line: fully vaccinated people with an EU DCC or other reciprocally accepted digital covid-19 vaccination pass shouldn’t need any testing or isolation in Europe.
Getting An EU DCC Pass From Abroad
European Union Digital Covid Certificates open up travel for Europeans and nearby regional partners like the UK, but covid-19 passes with reciprocal acceptance in Europe can also be acquired for more travelers from abroad, too.
UK NHS Covid-19 passes work as EU DCC passes, and other countries, such as the UAE, Thailand, New Zealand and Israel have achieved reciprocal agreements where their own digital passes count as an EU DCC pass, too.
In other words, if you have one from these countries, or any other country on the list, the new, easier rules should apply to you. You should be able to show your vaccination proof via your digital pass and that should mean no further requirements for testing or isolating.
Travel should feel fairly “normal” — whatever that is now.
For everyone else, earlier in the year, Germany and France, among others, began converting foreign vaccination certificates, such as US CDC cards into EU DCC formats. France even made this possible from abroad for an extended period, before pulling the plug. They can be obtained by paying circa €39 in select pharmacies after arrival.
One New Hurdle: 270 Days Of Validity
Under the new plan, restrictions should largely fall away, allowing for travel without testing or isolation required for the fully vaccinated, or recovered.
The only issue with the new system, is that Europe is looking to impose a 270 day limit on pass validity. If it’s been more than 270 days since your last vaccination or booster dose, your pass would theoretically no longer work.
Instead, you’d need to regularly test, or show a recent proof of recovery until the next vaccination or booster dose. This raises the question of whether covid-19 vaccines will become an annual thing, like flu shots, or whether the need for these digital passes will eventually be dropped, as the situation continues to evolve.