When it comes to international travel, the past two years have been an ongoing series of dashed expectations and postponed plans. Every time we started to feel like we could commit to that Europe trip we wanted to take, some new variant swooped in and spoiled everything. While travel to Europe is allowed in most countries now, it’s not as simple as waltzing in with your passport and a mask on and thinking you’re all set.
Also, while “the EU” is viewed as a single body, the countries have not followed the same path in setting entry restrictions. Then you get into all the countries that are not part of the European Union, which now means the UK as well, and it gets even more complicated. Just changing planes in one country to head to another could mean a whole other list of rules and requirements.
In light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, European country governments were compelled to put some restrictions in place for people traveling from the United States of America and elsewhere. The borders are now open for most of Europe, but with asterisks. You’ll need to check restrictions for the specific country you’re visiting before booking tickets and leaving deposits. Each country is allowed to make their own rules and regulations for who they will allow in. Also, the countries may have different guidelines that are specific to each airport, city, or region within a country.
Do You Need To Get a Visa to European Countries?
If you’re American or Canadian, you probably won’t need to secure a visa in advance for any European country apart from a few outliers like Turkey and Russia.
If you’re from elsewhere, companies like Natvisa can help you get a visa for Europe quickly and easily. They have years of experience of helping people get their visa to various countries around the world, including European ones such as Germany or Poland.
Do You Need Vaccination Proof for Your Europe Trip?
As Conde Nast Traveller put it so succinctly recently, “There are currently a handful of countries that will allow visitors who have not been vaccinated to enter.” In most cases, you will need to be fully vaccinated to visit Europe, with the appropriate card from your country showing the dates of your shots. Some nations have different requirements on top, such as registering vaccination info through a health app in advance.
Some countries have, at times, waved the testing requirement for those who show proof of vaccination. The rules are constantly in flux depending on case numbers and variants and that’s unlikely to ease up anytime soon.
There are several exceptions to the vaxxed rule though. These are not exactly the “greatest hits of travel,” but you can enter with just negative test results in Bosnia, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Madiera, or Slovenia. Technically you can visit Andorra with just a negative PCR test, but since you have to pass through France or Spain to get there, it’s a moot point. You can in theory get into Austria with just a recent negative COVID test, but according to Euronews, “Only proof of vaccination or past infection will be accepted to enter any type of accommodation, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, theatres and to use cable cars or ski lifts. A negative COVID-19 test will not be sufficient.”
The passport in your hand can impact the Europe trip rules, however. EU citizens have different, sometimes less stringent, rules for entry than those from Canada, the UK, or USA, while other high-risk nations with low vaccination rates may be banned entirely.
Be advised that coming back to your own country unvaccinated can present even more problems than going. For UK residents, for example, anyone who isn’t vaccinated has to quarantine upon their return. The same is true in Canada, where you must be vaccinated to enter the country (even Canadian citizens) and if you are randomly selected and test positive, you must go into quarantine for 10 days. Anyone returning to the USA needs to do so with a negative Covid test.
Do American Travelers Still Need To Get Tested For The Coronavirus?
Yes, no matter which European country you are traveling to, you will likely have to get tested for the coronavirus close to your time of departure. In some cases a rapid test will suffice, but they’re more commonly requiring a PCR test within 48 or 72 hours of departure OR arrival—it’s not consistent.
Can Foreigners Get an EU Digital Covid Certificate?
Yes, and it would be a handy thing to do while you’re visiting Europe. EU citizens are required to have a Digital Covid Certificate to visit other countries within the EU, a process that’s much more secure than the easily abused paper card system the USA has been using. According to the official website, “Non-EU nationals who are legally staying or residing in a Member State and have the right to travel to other Member States” can obtain the certificate, which goes on your smartphone.
This is easier to achieve as a resident than a visitor, but we are hearing stories (and seeing social media posts) from Americans and Canadians who have managed to get Europe’s version of a vaccine passport after showing their proof of vaccination for an accepted variety (not the Chinese one).
What Can I Do If I Get Sick While Travelling In Europe?
If you get sick while traveling in Europe, the best thing to do is to go see a local doctor. They will be able to help you with whatever illness you have and also give you advice on what to do next. Don’t worry, if you’re American it’ll cost you a fraction of what you’re used to paying.
If you test positive for Covid, there will be steps you need to take to avoid contact with others. You may need to report your status to the local health authorities.
You should also always contact your travel insurance company. With some policies, you will be covered if you need to stay longer than planned to isolate and you must change your flight.
Passengers Travelling To European Countries from the US Should Have Travel Insurance
Passengers traveling to European countries from the USA should always have travel insurance. This is important because if anything goes wrong during your journey, you will be able to get help quickly and easily through the use of travel insurance and their 24-hour phone contacts. In some cases, it is even a requirement for entry, such as in Turkey right now. There’s talk that this trend could spread to other nations in Europe at any time to lessen the burden on their public healthcare systems from visitors.
Keep in mind that travel insurance will also help you deal with a Covid side effect: canceled or delayed flights. With airline workers getting sick from the highly contagious Omricon variant and calling out, sometimes there are waves of flights not being able to depart because of low staff levels. Good travel insurance policies will compensate you for this or for lost luggage. We recommend our partner Allianz or if you’re a digital nomad, Safety Wing is another good option.
Don’t let your guard down either just because you’re on vacation. Be as diligent as you would be at home with mask wearing, limiting contact with others, and keeping your distance where possible. Obviously, traveling in the warm months is less problematic than cold ones in Europe because of the ability to eat and drink outdoors.
Where Can I Go to Check Europe Travel Restrictions?
Nearly every major news site has regularly updated pages that outline specific Europe trip restrictions on a country-by-country basis. Ideally you want to check one that’s geared to your own country of residence. In other words, don’t check a UK newspaper site if you’re Canadian or American. If you’re a Brit, check The Telegraph, not The New York Times.
Most of the sites where you would check flight prices have done a good job at keeping requirements updated, so if you’re already going to Kayak, Skyscanner, or a major airline site, open a tab for the rules page while you’re there before hitting “purchase.”