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2021 European Travel During Coronavirus | Safety, Policies, and FAQs

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Discover all you need to know about traveling to Europe during the Covid-19 pandemic and ensure your journey to and around the continent is as safe, smooth, and enjoyable as possible!

Guide to Europe Donates One Vaccine for Each Booking

Guide to Europe is proud to be doing our part in tackling Covid-19's impact globally by donating one vaccine to COVAX for every booking we receive; we promise to do this until the pandemic is over. COVAX is an initiative working to provide free, fair, and fast access to vaccines for everyone across the globe by speeding up their development, production, and distribution.

Post COVID, going back to nature such as the he Italian Dolomites would be a great travel choice.

Is it Safe to Travel to Europe Right Now? 

Deciding whether or not to travel to Europe during these last stages of the Covid-19 pandemic is a personal choice as much as it is an institutional one. All must be aware that travel increases your risk of exposure to the virus, and this is particularly relevant for those in vulnerable groups, such as the elderly.

Still, things are moving in the right direction. Those who are vaccinated or have already had the virus are dramatically less likely to catch it on their journeys, and with successful vaccination programs, lockdowns and curfews, many European nations are becoming more stable by the day.

It should be noted, however, that certain areas are at higher risk than others. 

Examples of destinations with notably high rates of infection at the moment are Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Sweden, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, and large swathes of Italy and France, making them particularly less safe for travelers.

Portugal, Ireland, Finland, Norway, and Iceland, meanwhile, are examples of countries that have greatly reduced Covid-19 in their communities, making them much more appealing to holiday-makers.

Norway has had great success in fighting COVID and many regions are labelled as green and considered safe to travel to.

Other states, such as the UK, Spain, Denmark, Germany, and Greece, as well as popular archipelagos such as the Canary Islands, Azores, and Madeira, are currently somewhere in between.

As such, while certain areas are very safe to visit for responsible travelers, others will not be for several weeks or months.

As you will see in the upcoming border policy section, the rules about entering a country usually correspond with their current Coronavirus situation, but this is not the case exclusively. It is thus best to compare the policies with the national or regional statistics of your destination to make an informed decision. 

These stats can be seen on the EU’s color-coded map, detailed below.

Aside from vaccinating their populations and enforcing measures such as lockdowns and curfews, individual countries and the EU as a whole have taken a range of steps to keep the virus contained and their populations healthy. 

These steps have made many areas much safer to visit and helped to ensure confidence in concerned travelers. 

The most important of these factors in making travel to Europe safe are contact tracing, the Re-Open EU platform and map, the Traffic Lights System, Digital Green Passports, and a fact-based approach to international tourism regarding countries with low infection rates.

Greece has been one of the earliest countries to open its border to travellers.

Contact Tracing in Europe

Tracing apps have been adopted by many European states, and the EU has worked to ensure that these different apps can communicate warnings about possible virus exposure to each other. This has been essential in ensuring both locals and visitors are informed about potential risks to their health. 

These apps, however, are largely voluntary, not all countries have them, and not all the countries that have them are connected to the European network. It is thus important not to rely on tracing apps, but it is heavily recommended to use them if they are available. 

Travelers flying into Europe, however, will need to fill out a tracing form. In the EU, this is called the Common European Passenger Locator Form, and non-EU countries will have something similar. Completing these forms correctly and honestly is a legal obligation, and essential in protecting yourself and helping to contain the virus.

The Re-Open EU Platform and Colour-Coded Map

Since June 2020, the EU launched the platform ‘Re-Open EU’, aiming at encouraging safe tourism across the European member states. With new data and strains of the virus, however, the focus of this has been much more nation- and region-based, with recommendations on a case-by-case basis.

This more localized approach has helped identify Covid-19’s presence and spread in Europe, and led to the creation of a commonly cited, color-coded map

This map identifies areas as ‘green’, ‘amber’, or ‘red’ based on their positivity rate and 14-day notification rate per 100,000 people. This information can be accessed either via the website or a free mobile app. 

With this information, the EU was able to develop the ‘Traffic Light System’ as a guide for international travel.

The Traffic Lights System

Since November 2020, ‘the Traffic Lights System’ has been an EU recommendation for helping countries determine who is and who is not allowed in their borders, and what regulations the former travelers may face.

Travelers from countries that have spent the past 14 days in ‘green’ areas are likely to face no or few restrictions upon entry to a European country, often only having to produce a negative test result. Travelers from ‘orange’ or ‘amber’ areas will need to produce this at a bare minimum and are also likely to face quarantine or further tests on arrival. Travelers from ‘red’ areas will likely have to meet both these conditions, and may even be banned from entering.

The Traffic Lights System is only a recommendation so far, and not all EU countries have adopted it. Furthermore, some non-EU countries, such as the UK, are adopting their own versions.

Digital Green Certificate

As of March 17th, 2021, those living in the EU can apply for a Digital Green Certificate for free movement between member states. These documents are safe and secure ways to show that you have either been vaccinated, received a negative test, or already had and recovered from Covid-19. 

While the core European principle of free movement largely stands without the certificate, some member states require proof of testing for certain services and rights. 

If you live in a member state, you can get such a document from your local health center, testing center, or hospital for no cost. They can be given to you in either print or digital form, are written in your native language and English, and have a QR code that can be scanned for security and authenticity.

There are no limits to your movement throughout Europe if you have such a certificate, unless, of course, the EU/Schengen nation you are in is under a stay-at-home order or a state of medical emergency.

Unfortunately, these do not apply to those arriving from outside of the region, unless you come from a country with very low Covid-19 rates.

Special Rules for Countries With Low Cases of Covid-19

Based on the recommendation on the gradual lifting of the temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU’, which has been in effect since June 30th, 2020, an updated list of countries with low rates of the virus is published every two weeks.

For these countries, it is recommended that travel restrictions are eased, although sometimes these recommendations come with the condition of reciprocity.

Currently, the following countries are on the list:

  1. Australia
  2. China (subject to reciprocity)
  3. New Zealand
  4. Rwanda
  5. Singapore
  6. South Korea
  7. Thailand

Note that these recommendations are given to all EU member states as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican, but are not necessarily enforced.

Border Policy in Europe

Though travel to Europe is, as a general rule, becoming increasingly safe, Europe is a vast continent, and one rule cannot apply to every place. While many countries have successfully curbed the spread of the virus and are now comfortable opening their borders to different degrees, others are still under lockdown or else completely inaccessible to non-essential travelers. 

This is further complicated by the political structure of Europe. There are 48 independent countries on the continent, 27 of which are in the European Union and 26 of which are in the Schengen Area (meaning they have free movement between them). 

Some countries are both in the EU and Schengen (such as France, Italy, and Germany); some are just in the EU (such as Croatia and Bulgaria); some are just in the Schengen Area (such as Norway and Iceland), and some are in neither (such as the UK and Belarus). 

Furthermore, all of the EU states, as well as Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein are members of the European Economic Area (the EEA).

These different categories have different ways of defining their borders, and even then, there are national restrictions that mean countries in the same group may have different rules. For example, it is generally easier to visit Poland at the moment than it is Austria, despite them both being EU countries in the Schengen Area.

Furthermore, there may even be different restrictions within countries based on regions, particularly countries with geographically isolated islands, such as Spain.

We have thus attempted to make this as easy as possible by categorizing all 48 countries of Europe below under four categories; countries with few restrictions on international travelers, countries with moderate restrictions, countries with strict restrictions, and countries closed to tourists. 

We have also made note of the rules specific to Europe’s most popular archipelagos.

We will update these and change the categories of the countries as we get new information.

Before looking at the border rules of the European country you wish to visit, however, there are a few notes to consider.

  • Your home country’s rules: Note that while all countries have policies regarding travelers entering their borders, your home country may have restrictions on you leaving yours, and which countries you may go to. 
  • When to get tested: When a negative test is required before departure, this is almost always to be taken within 48 hours of arrival. A few countries instead ask for 72 hours, but this is likely to be the subject of change as international standards are ironed out. Furthermore, airlines have their own rules, which almost always require guests to have a negative test 48 hours before departing.
    Generally speaking, you should aim to have your Covid-19 test as close to your departure time as possible.
  • Important Paperwork: Almost all the countries will require you to fill out a sworn statement that you are not symptomatic and have not been exposed to the virus recently. As previously noted, you are also likely to have to fill out tracing information before arrival, should you later be found to be in contact with the virus.

Please note that unless specified, all countries will require you to fill out a passenger locator form.

Slovenia's beautiful autumn season

Countries With Few Restrictions on International Travellers

The following countries are the most open to international travelers, with some actively encouraging guests, and others simply allowing them entry on the condition they follow regulations. Note that while many are open to almost all guests, some have travel bans or specific rules for certain origin countries. 

Albania: Travelers to Albania must present proof of vaccination, a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before arrival, a negative rapid antigen test taken 48 hours before arrival, or proof of Covid-19 recovery in the past since months. 

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Travelers to Bosnia and Herzegovina must present proof of vaccination, a negative PCR test taken 48 hours before arrival, or proof of Covid-19 recovery in the past since months.

Cyprus: Travelers from green zone countries require no restrictions upon entry. From non-green zone countries, travelers must present a negative test upon arrival, or else proof of vaccination.

Finland: Vaccinated passengers with evidence may enter Finland without impediment if from the EU, Schengen areas, or a unique list of green-listed countries if they have antibodies or a negative test. If from higher-risk countries, you must isolate for 14 days unless you can present two negative tests, one before and one after arrival.

Germany: Germany has unrestricted entry to a number of countries. Others must have a negative test before entering the country. If coming from an 'area of concern' or 'high incidence area', you must also quarantine for 10 days, or 14 if from an area with a more contagious variant. If you are vaccinated, you can skip testing and quarantine.

Iceland: Any can enter Iceland if they have proof of their vaccination or previous Covid infection. If you do not have these documents, you must have a negative test before arrival, and two after arrival - one immediately, and one after five to six days in obligatory quarantine.

Kosovo: A negative test must be taken before departure is required if from a red or amber region of the EU map, but not otherwise. 

Montenegro: All travelers to Montenegro over the age of five must prove that they have either had a negative test before departure or a complete vaccination over seven days prior. Failing to do so will require 14 days of self-isolation. Those from European Union member states, Israel, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and North Macedonia are exempt from these rules and do not have to face requirements. 

North Macedonia: Travelers must present proof of vaccination, proof of recovery from a past infection, or a negative Covid-19 test upon entry, or else quarantine for seven days. 

San Marino: There are no prerequisites for traveling into San Marino, but the only way into San Marino is through Italy.

Serbia: A negative test is required before departure for all over the age of 12, and is not available upon arrival. Nationals can elect to quarantine for ten days instead.

Slovenia: Slovenia's borders are open to any who have proof of vaccination, antibodies from a past infection, or can prove negative tests before and after departure. This is subject to change, and regularly updated information can be found on the police website.

Spain: Spain follows the Traffic Lights System and those from EU and Schengen countries need not prove anything upon entry and vaccinated travelers from elsewhere only need proof via a certification. Otherwise, only third countries on this list are permitted entry for non-essential reasons and must present either a negative test or proof of antibodies from a past infection. 

Iceland has very low infection rates of COVID-19 and is a popular travel destination for post-COVID travellers

Countries With Moderate Restrictions on International Travellers

These countries have notable restrictions on who may enter their borders, although vary widely in what they are and how they are enforced. Travel to many of these countries is discouraged but not illegal, whereas some, such as Iceland, are simply reopening their tourism industries as safely as possible.

Andorra: Andorra can only be entered via France and Spain, which have their own national restrictions. All guests must have taken a negative test before entering, and UK travelers will also need one upon arrival. 

Austria: Those from EU and Schengen countries, as well as those from a specific list, must either be vaccinated, have proof of recovery from Covid-19, be tested negatively within 48 hours of departure, or get a negative test within 24 hours of arrival. From countries with higher infection rates, you must have one of the above and quarantine for 10 days, which can be ended after 5 following a negative test. 

Belarus: Travelers to Belarus require a negative test 72 hours before entry and travel insurance to enter, although its land borders are closed. Belarus does have unique restrictions for some countries. Due to the unorthodox and controversial arrest of journalist Roman Protasevich, many countries are currently not flying to Belarus.

Belgium: The Traffic Light System is in place for the countries which are permitted entry, with non-resident ‘red zone’ travelers requiring a negative test and needing to quarantine for ten days This can be shortened to seven following a negative test. Those from other countries can enter with just proof of a negative test before arrival. The list is updated every Sunday.

Bulgaria: If from an approved country those who take a negative test prior to arrival, have proof of their second vaccination dose, or a negative test after recovering from Covid-19 in the last 15 to 180 days can enter Bulgaria. All other travelers must quarantine for 10 days, although they can end this after just one if they present a negative PCR test taken in the country after arrival.

Croatia: No tests are required for anyone from a green zone country, nor anyone who has been vaccinated over 14 days ago. If from a country with high epidemiological risk must quarantine for 14 days, which can be shortened to 7 following a negative PCR test, taken at your own expense.

Czech Republic: The Czech Republic now allows travel from all EU and Schengen countries for any reason, and follows a traffic light system. Those from green countries face no entry restrictions; those from orange countries must have proof of vaccination, proof of recovery from COVID-19, or proof of a negative test on arrival; and those from red and dark red countries must do this while also isolating until producing a second negative test in five days. Those from grey countries cannot enter for non-essential reasons.

Denmark: Denmark follows a unique green, yellow, orange, and red traffic lights system. Travelers from green countries face no restrictions, whereas yellow countries do not need to have a worthy reason for entering but must provide a negative test before departure and 24 hours after their arrival. Those from orange and red countries must have a good reason for entering Denmark, provide these test results, and quarantine for 10 days. If from an orange country but have proof of full vaccination, however, you are exempt from these restrictions. 

Estonia: Estonia follows its own system of identifying high-risk countries. Those from these countries must show proof of a negative test, then quarantine for 10 days, or six following a second negative test. Those from other countries must instead present just a negative test. These rules do not apply, no matter where you are from, if you are vaccinated or have evidence that they recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months.

Greece: Greece's rules are changing regularly. If vaccinated and from the EU+ area or from a list of select countries, you can enter freely; if from a higher risk area and unvaccinated, you must take a test upon arrival. Russian passengers must take a test regardless of their vaccination status. 

Italy: Italy has a unique way of classifying areas, with an A-E list. There are no restrictions for travel in those in List A and B; those on List C and D need either proof of vaccination, antigens from a past infection, or to take negative tests before arrival; and those on List E cannot enter for tourism reasons and must isolate for 10 days.

Ireland: Ireland follows the EU traffic light system. Travelers from red-listed countries must quarantine for 14 days, which can be shortened to five following a negative test, regardless of vaccination. Those from non-red listed countries must also do this if they are unvaccinated or do not have antibodies, although if they do, they are exempt from all regulations other than the requirement to fill out a passenger location form.

Latvia: Travel from EU, Schengen countries, and a list of approved countries are allowed so long as the traveler has proof of vaccination, antigens from a past infection, or takes a negative test prior to departure. Travelers from amber and red countries must self-isolate for 10 days. 

Lithuania: If the traveler is from an approved country, they can enter with a negative test or proof of antibodies, from either a vaccine or past infection. Other travelers from orange and red countries must quarantine for ten days, which can be reduced to seven following another negative test, unless fully vaccinated. The rules of this quarantine differ based on the point of departure, with some being allowed a few additional privileges. 

Luxembourg: Travelers arriving by air from an EU or Schengen country must prove their vaccinations, antibodies from a past infection, or a negative test prior to arrival. Travel from countries outside of this region is barred from entering for non-essential reasons until the end of 2021.

Malta: Malta has a unique list of ‘travel corridor’ countries; those from dark red countries must have a reason for entry with prior approval. From a red country, you must be fully vaccinated to enter. 

Moldova: To enter Moldova, you must be fully vaccinated, have proof of recovery from a previous infection, or have taken a negative PCR or rapid antigen test 72 or 48 hours prior to arrival respectively. Otherwise, you must quarantine for 14 days. 

Norway: There are no restrictions upon entry if from the EU+ area and fully vaccinated (or with proof of antibodies). Otherwise, you must fill out a locator form, take tests upon arrival, or quarantine for 10 days. This can be shortened to three days following a second negative test.

Poland: Travelers from the EU and Schengen area can enter with either a negative test before arrival, proof of vaccination, or proof of antibodies. All other travelers must isolate 10 days, other than those from the UK, who must isolate for seven, unless fully vaccinated.

Portugal: All over the age of two need to have a negative test before departure to Portugal. If coming from a country with more than 500 cases per 100,000 people, you must quarantine for 14 days, and non-essential travel is banned from Brazil, India, Nepal, and South Africa. More information can be found on the government website.

Romania: Romania has its own traffic light system. Those from green countries, which have under 1.5 cases per 100,000, can enter without restrictions. Those from amber countries, which have between 1.5 and 3 cases per 100,000, must take a negative test before departure, and quarantine for 10 days until a negative test is presented unless vaccinated. Those from red countries, which have more than 3 cases per 100,000, must quarantine for 14 days or 10 with a subsequent negative test, again unless vaccinated. 

Slovakia: Slovakia has its own traffic light system. Regardless, all unvaccinated travelers must quarantine 14 days, but those from green areas can end it on the fifth day with one negative test. Vaccinated passengers are exempt from all restrictions other than signing a passenger locator form.

Sweden: Sweden has its own traffic light system. Travelers from the EEA can enter with a negative test, proof of vaccination, or a negative test, as can those from a few other countries. Travelers from Nordic countries face no restrictions unless symptomatic.

Switzerland and Liechtenstein: Liechtenstein’s borders are handled by Switzerland, with whom they permanently have an open border, and Switzerland has a unique list of at-risk regions and countries. While many countries remain on a ban list, some are not. For those who are come from low-risk areas, either proof of a vaccine, a negative test, or past antigens are all that is required for entry; those from areas of concern that are still allowed in can only do so with proof of vaccination or of antigens. Otherwise, you must quarantine for at least seven days.

Turkey: Everyone six and over needs to prove a negative test upon arrival. Certain countries are subject to travel bans.

Ukraine: Everyone over 12 must present a negative Covid test before departure, as well as valid health insurance. Ukraine continues to discourage tourism due to its ongoing internal restrictions. To avoid quarantine, you must have proof of antibodies, evidence of a recent nered gative test, or at least one dose of an approved vaccine. 

United Kingdom: The UK requires vaccinated travelers to order a Day 2 test before arrival, and to send off their test on that day. If unvaccinated, you must order a Day 2 and Day 8 test, and quarantine until they have been confirmed as negative. The UK has got rid of green and amber countries, but maintains a red list for which more stringent rules apply.

Greece is one of the first countries in Europe to open their borders during COVID.

Countries With Strict Restrictions on International Travellers

These countries have strict border restrictions. They have greatly reduced the number of countries from which travelers may hail, and may insist on quarantine even for guests that have produced negative test results. Again, the rules vary in what they are and how they are enforced. Travel to these countries is often discouraged but not illegal.

France: France has its own traffic lights system. If from the EU+ area or an approved country, you must be fully vaccinated, or else have had your first jab at least seven days ago with proof of antibodies from a past infection. You can alternatively present a PCR test taken 72 hours before arrival or a rapid antigen test taken 48 hours before, unless from Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, the Netherlands, or Greece, in which case it must be taken 24 hours before. French territories may have different rules.

Hungary: Hungary is only allowing travel for essential reasons, unless from a country in the EU, NATO, Russia, China, the UAE, or Bahrain. These travelers still must have proof of vaccination or of a past infection.

Monaco: Monaco requires travelers from a list of countries to take a negative test on arrival, and another after isolating for 7 days. All others must only produce a negative test before departure.

Netherlands: The Netherlands has very limited restrictions for travelers from the EU+ area, and for all fully vaccinated travelers unless from a high risk country. Those from high risk countries must show proof of a negative after entry, and quarantine for 10 days, five following a negative test. 

Vatican City: The Vatican City is only accessible via Italy, and many exhibitions and experiences are restricted or suspended. 

Belgium remains closed to tourists.

Countries Closed to Tourists

These countries are currently closed to non-essential travelers; some even have stipulations on citizens and residents returning home, and on the access of essential travelers. 

Russia: A negative test is required before arrival for everyone over two years old, and all arrivals are temperature checked. Travelers from the UK must quarantine for 14 days. Russia’s restrictions have less clarity than many other countries, which is why they have been categorized here.

Notes On Popular Islands

In some cases, border rules for the island territories of some countries differ from those of the mainland. The most popular European islands and their border rules are discussed below.

Azores (Portugal): A negative Covid-19 test must be presented before departure to the Azores. The only accepted form of test is one performed with the RT-PCR methodology.

Canary Islands (Spain): A negative Covid-19 test must be presented before departure; if arriving from a high-risk area, then another must be presented upon arrival at the Canary Islands. All passengers must also take a temperature check and register below 37.5 degrees Celsius. The Canary Islands include Tenerife.

Madeira (Portugal): A negative Covid-19 test must be provided either before departure or upon arrival at the Madeiran archipelago. 

What if COVID-19 Affects My Travel Booking?

If a flight you booked through Guide to Europe is canceled due to Covid-19 or you test positive for the virus before your departure, we will provide you with a full refund as soon as you request one. Please note that your bank or credit card company may take a few days to process this.

Even though we are not responsible for tour, event, and activity cancellations that may occur due to Covid-19 on your trip (for which you will need to speak with your travel agent or the company responsible), we can still provide you with help and resources in finding other things to do.

Our team of Europe experts has roots across the continent, a passion for what each country has to offer, and a dedication to ensuring every moment of your trip is as memorable as possible. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that all of us are overdue for a fantastic holiday to recoup for lost time. Even though we cannot guarantee that measures to curb the virus will not have an impact on your journey, we will do all we can to give you the Europe trip that you deserve.