Many people want to travel to Europe again to see the historic sites and enjoy the rich culture and culinary delights. US citizens have not been able to cross the Atlantic for leisure purposes since the early weeks of the pandemic. However, things can finally change for tourists.
Countries that can fly to Europe now
The European Union has currently relaxed the entry conditions for certain “third countries” outside Europe.
Countries currently on the list (as of April 29, 2021) include:
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- China (subject to confirmation of reciprocity)
It is possible for international travelers to quarantine themselves in these countries first for at least ten days so that they can enter the EU for non-essential travel. This self-quarantine also cancels a mandatory self-quarantine.
Travelers can expect to have a pre-trip diagnostic test no later than 72 hours before departure.
Vaccinated Americans Can Visit Europe This Summer
Most of mainland Europe has only been open to essential travelers since the start of the pandemic. Even for people who could enter Europe, countries have experienced gradual lockdowns and shutdowns of non-essential services as infection rates rise. This means that no bar, restaurant or museum is open to visitors.
Now that the COVID-19 vaccine is increasingly available, governments are more receptive to the resumption of pleasure travel. In an April 25, 2021 interview, European Union President Ursula von der Leyen said fully vaccinated Americans may be able to travel to Europe as early as mid-July.
A critical threshold appears to have at least 70% of the US population vaccinated for international travel. The United States can reach the 70% mark by mid-June if current immunization trends continue. Currently, the United States overtakes the EU with vaccinations. As populations on both continents increase their vaccination rates, borders may reopen.
Travel to Europe opens first to European residents
The first step in reviving tourism and leisure travel across Europe is to conclude a joint agreement between the Schengen nations. This framework is currently called the “Green Pass”. Leaders are working together to craft a reopening plan that allows EU residents to travel between countries. The initiative hopes to launch this pass to residents in the second half of May 2021.
Since the start of the pandemic, each country has had its own travel restrictions. It is common for many to only allow visitors from neighboring countries.
Another condition for traveling may be to have a vaccination passport. European residents will need to show proof of receipt of a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). If the countries come to an agreement, an EU resident of any country can travel to another EU bloc country once fully vaccinated, such as a pre-pandemic trip to the Schengen area.
It’s unclear whether travelers can show paper proof of the vaccine like the current CDC form or if there will be a mobile app that checks the vaccine to help prevent fraud. There may be a scannable QR code that allows travelers to get around quickly.
Non-European residents can return later
The European Union is committed to allowing American travelers to return to the EU for the foreseeable future. There is no target reopening date, but it can be as early as summer 2021 if the health threat diminishes.
Americans could be among the first international travelers to have the chance to come to mainland Europe for pleasure travel. A Guardian report indicates that the EU is in advanced talks on launching a vaccine passport with the United States. Unfortunately, the United States has not contacted the United Kingdom for a similar move.
U.S. visitors can expect to follow the same vaccination passport protocols as EU residents once the travel system is launched.
The European Medicines Agency is currently approving these COVID-19 vaccines:
- Johnson & johnson
Due to the post-Brexit chasm, Americans are unlikely to want to stay in the EU bloc to avoid unnecessary self-quarantines if they are on a long tour of Europe and also wish to arrange a stopover in the UK.
Current travel restrictions in Europe
In general, Americans cannot go to the Schengen area of the European Union. This 27-member block mainly includes countries in Western and Central Europe that most tourists visit, such as France, Italy and Spain. Other countries are open to leisure travelers, but local social distancing guidelines and entry requirements may apply.
Here’s a look at some European destinations Americans can fly to before the EU reopens.
Iceland was one of the first non-continental European countries to reopen to international travelers. The only caveat is that incoming visitors must be fully vaccinated and travel at least 14 days after receiving the final dose.
Greece is once again open to leisure travelers from certain countries, including the United States. Travelers can forgo mandatory quarantine and diagnostic testing by being fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated people will need to be tested before travel to avoid the 10-day self-quarantine.
France is currently not open to unnecessary international travel, but President Emmanual Macron mentions that the country is developing a special travel relationship with the United States. This pass could allow American travelers to travel in the summer of 2021 if the general EU deal fails. Other countries that rely heavily on tourism have similar desires to create travel lanes with the United States until a continent-wide approach passes.
The UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) hopes to reopen to US travelers as early as May 17, 2021. Now that Brexit is over, UK travel restrictions are separate from what it does. ‘EU.
Other European Nations
Several countries outside the EU’s 27-member bloc in Central and Eastern Europe welcome American tourists. Travelers will need to be fully vaccinated or test negative for COVID within 72 hours of arrival.
Some of these nations include:
Entry requirements vary by country and it is essential to follow the necessary steps before flying. Ignoring a mandatory action can result in a 10-day self-quarantine.
These requirements are similar to those of most Caribbean and Latin American countries open to American tourists.
Entry Requirements to the United States
Returning to the United States can be similar to the steps required to travel to Europe. Returning Americans two years of age or older will be required to pass a re-entry test no more than 72 hours before re-entering the United States.
The first leisure flights to Europe could resume from the United States to Europe as early as this summer, but travel by EU residents must first resume. American tourists hoping for a European getaway to multiple countries should expect to be fully vaccinated to cross the pond. Until the reopening of European continents, travelers can visit certain countries such as Iceland and Greece by meeting the country’s entry requirements.