a bicycle parked in a courtyard of a building

If you’re fully vaccinated, it’s an amazing time to visit Europe. Once rammed ports are all but empty, hotels are happy to receive visitors and tough tables at top restaurants are surprisingly manageable.

To make sure that things stay open this time, a growing list of countries are requiring proof of vaccination to do just about anything and everything indoors, and that’s worth knowing, ahead of any upcoming trips.

Here’s what it means for visitors from inside the EU, and out, including how to prove your status, even if you can’t access the European Union DCC, covid-19 vaccination app.

Vaccination Proof For Activities

Ah, Mr. Ott, welcome back to the restaurant – may we see your covid-19 vaccination?

Of 27 member states in the EU, 16 countries now require proof of vaccination for most activities, including dining, museums and evening spots. Pretty much anything indoors. Even the Eiffel Tower is requiring a pass or proof of vaccination.

a group of people sitting at tables outside a building

This means if you’re planning to visit Europe as an unvaccinated visitor, you’re going to find dining options incredibly limited, and may absolutely want to get fully vaccinated before the trip.

Travelers visit any of the following 16 countries should expect to carry a copy of their vaccination proof, or a digital form of proof to enter hotels, indoor restaurants, indoor bars and most museums and other attractions, including…

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • Slovenia
  • Spain

*the list can change at any point, and countries may add requirements

For European travelers with residency in the EU, the EU DCC app is the easiest way to show proof at any juncture. Details on getting vaccination proof for each country can be found here.

For travelers coming from outside of Europe, from an EU ‘safe list’ approved country, such as the US, UK or Canada, the same proof of vaccination accepted for travel, such as a US CDC card will be accepted at hotels, restaurants and other attractions requiring them.

That might not prove as easy as it should, and some countries now have protocols for obtaining these passes before you depart, to streamline travel and alleviate any woes.

France now has instructions on how to deal with that, which involves emailing French Embassy authorities before departure with proof of vaccination. Visitors will receive a QR code to use while in the country to enter all venues.

Having digital proof, such as New York’s Excelsior Pass certainly makes this easier in some countries, but a copy of the original CDC certificate should also be accepted at most venues, or at a pharmacy to unlock the local pass after arrival, if protocols aren’t already in place, like in France.

There’s no charge for a pharmacist to enter a foreign vaccination certificate into the national database to unlock local apps for activities, though it’s a bit of added hassle. In time, hotels may begin in assisting with this, directly from the lobby.

a trolleys on a street

If you’re an American, or someone vaccinated in the US with residency in Europe, who has access to a European health system, you can also have a European doctor upload your US vaccination proof to the database of the country your doctor is in.

For example, if you’re a French citizen or resident who was vaccinated in the United States, you can bring your vaccination proof to your French doctor, or perhaps even upload it online, and the doctor can add it to French vaccination records in advance, so that the EU DCC app can then be accessed, rather than carrying around a paper CDC copy or visiting a pharmacy after arrival.

Is Europe Still Worth The Trip?

I’ve been lucky to travel on both sides of the pond this year, and in my opinion, the answer is yes. If you hate crowds and over tourism, this is an incredibly unique year to experience countries which have been super busy, without the madness.

Pulling out proof of vaccination is no more of a hassle than proof of ID for age checks in a bar or checking into a hotel, so it’s hardly a deal breaker in that regard. Plus, now you’ve got all the info on how the systems work, so there’s no fuss. Really, it’s just a matter of stopping by a pharmacy on the way out for coffee.

If you had to pick just one country, aim for one which has traditionally been mobbed by cruise tourism. Cruises aren’t really moving right now, which means deals are all over the place, and cities are eager for visitors.

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. Hello, Gilbert – thanks for this article. Like you, I travelled 200k miles in 2019 and so far this year visited Greece as soon as Americans were let in and found ourselves alone on some of Santorini and Athens’ most famous streets. It was heaven. But we’re heading to Italy next month and the green pass is already becoming problematic. Our tours are requiring us to show our “Green Pass,” which as Americans we cannot get from here. In fact, it appears that we can only get it by having a COVID test over there, which won’t come back in time for the first tour. Besides being a half-day hassle and added expense, it seems designed to serve EU residents and not visitors. So please be careful in the article because a mere CDC vaccination card is NOT going to be enough to get into famous museums in Italy, it seems.

  2. Sorry, but this is not correct. Most European countries require a green pass, which is valid is you are either:
    – fully vaccinated
    – tested negative (valid few days)
    – already had covid and received at least one shot

    1. If you look, most places accept US CDC certificates instead of the green pass, because otherwise there would be no point in opening tourism, if no tourist businesses could benefit from outside visitors.

      How would that make sense: sure, come visit Americans. By the way, you can’t eat, visit museums or do anything that makes money for the country or its tourism businesses. Government websites spell this out over and over again.

  3. We are going to Italy/ Sicily in October. Can you help me understand the EU digital passport for entry? I filled it out, but got nothing back. Is it waiting until we get closer to the date? Also, we have the vaccine cards and will order the testing kits to return. Is that all we need to travel to / from and around the country? It’s all so confusing and we need some help.
    Thank you.

  4. Your information is old. Pharmacies are no longer entering the CDC card for the Sanitary Pass. You now must get a negative test every 2-3 days and load that result into the app. I have emailed the French health department that is is issuing QR code’s for CDC cards but it only says it is helping French citizens at this moment. So if they don’t change the rules or accept CDC cards tourists can expect to pay 25 euros every two days just to eat outside of room service. I’m in Paris at the moment and am experiencing this in an existential way!

  5. This is definitely not the case in the Netherlands. Officially you need to have a negative covid test result within 24 hours for indoor dining. Your U.S.A. CDC vaccination card is not recognized for entry to restaurants and venues with the exception of museums. It is not very tourist friendly at the moment.

    1. Every reader seems to indicate different experiences with the NL. Some say the US cards works everywhere, of the very few places that check. Others say it’s no good at all, and go with the covid-19 tests. Not very tourism inspiring.

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