The picture across the EU area (plus the U.K.) in May is full of excitement for the summer months. Countries are beginning to announce the end of travel restrictions and as vaccination rates rise, people are making travel plans for when borders will be open across the bloc, even if the timeline isn’t exactly clear:
- the vaccination roll out is picking up momentum every day. As reported by The New York Times, nearly 3 million doses were given across the 27 countries every day during the first week of May–this means that the bloc is on track to vaccinate 70% of its adults by the end of summer.
- many countries are emerging from lockdown and setting their sights on the tourist economy–laying out timelines for the opening of cafes, bars, hotels and shops.
- a few EU/Schengen area countries are now open for tourism without quarantine–Iceland from 18 March and Cyprus from 10 May. Others are opening imminently, such as Greece on 14 May, the U.K. (to 12 countries on 17 May), Malta on 1 June (with a scheme in place to pay tourists to visit) and Denmark on 26 June.
- the Digital Green Certificate has now been firmly established as the way forward to ease travel across Europe this summer. This will be in the form of a QR code, either carried on a piece of paper or in a digital application, such as France’s TousAntiCovid app on someone’s phone. These contain the travelers name, date of birth, passport number, whether you have been vaccinated or not, the type of vaccine you had, and if you have already had Covid-19.
- every EU country should be ready and using the same system for travel by 15 June–the date by which many more European countries should be open for holidays.
Austria—opening from 19 May onwards
Austria is only allowing entry across its borders to EU/Schengen nationals plus the agreed small list of safe countries allowed into the EU (Australia, Iceland, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the Vatican).
All arrivals must be in possession of a negative PCR or antigen test result taken no more than 72 hours before arrival into Austria. If they cannot provide a certificate, travelers must take one within 24 hours. Everyone must then go into a ten-day quarantine and can test out after 5 days with another negative test result.
However, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told press that “the light at the end of the tunnel is near” as he announced reopening plans for the 37th most infected country worldwide. From 19 May, Austria is planning to scrap quarantine and testing requirements for countries categorised as green or orange on the ECDC’s traffic light map. A negative test will be required for people arriving from a red list country and quarantine and testing will still be applied for arrivals from dark red countries.
Belgium—countries color-coded for entry
Arrivals from EU, Schengen area and the EU’s safe list are technically allowed entry to Belgium but all countries have been color-coded to determine travel restrictions.
The EU’s safe country list are currently labelled green–Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. Additionally, North and East Finland and Trondelag, Northern Norway are also classified green.
Some parts of some EU countries are currently labelled orange: Denmark, Greece, Spain, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Malta, Norway, Portugal and Slovakia. Everywhere else is currently classified as a red country.
If people must travel, they must fill in a a “Public Health Passenger Locator Form” 48 hours before arrival and take a PCR test before departure and it must be negative. Based on their answers to the Locator Form, visitors will receive a test message if they are high risk and need to quarantine for 10 days. If they do, they must take a Covid-19 test on days 1 and day 7. If visitors do not receive a text message, they do not need to quarantine. Answers are based on the ECDC’s traffic light system of risk.
Bulgaria—negative test or 10-day quarantine
Anyone can arrive in Bulgaria if they can show they are fully vaccinated or have had Covid-19.
As of 4 May, Bulgarians and residents of EU/Schengen area countries who arrive in the country (and their families) must take a PCR test before entry or they must go into a ten-day quarantine.
Bulgaria does not follow the ECDC’s traffic light system and is operating its own list of who is able to come into the country from overseas. Travelers from the following countries are allowed to enter, if they are in possession of a negative PCR test taken in the 72 hours prior: Australia, Canada, China, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay, UAE, the U.K., Israel, Belarus, Kuwait, Turkey, Albania, Montenegro, Moldova, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.
Croatia—still only EU/Schengen area arrivals
Travelers arriving from EU/Schengen countries must be in possession of a negative Covid-19 test result upon arrival. If not, they must have one taken at the airport and go into quarantine until the results arrive. Travelers from outside the EU/Schengen are not allowed except for specific circumstances, such as medical workers. Vaccinated travelers are allowed to bypass quarantine requirements.
Cyprus—borders open May 10 to vaccinated travelers
On May 10, Cyprus opened its borders to anyone who has been vaccinated from 65 countries around the world. This includes the U.S. and Canada.
For all unvaccinated travelers, Cyprus has three categories of countries–green, orange and red–with distinct rules surrounding quarantine and testing requirements. All passengers must fill in a Cyprus Health Pass upon arrival.
There are currently only 5 countries on the green list, the most epidemiologically sound where no quarantine is needed nor a negative Covid-19 test: New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Singapore, and Israel.
The orange list, from which people must arrive with proof of a negative Covid-19 test result, has considerably opened up in May. It now includes many more countries from its EU neighbors and third party countries including the U.K.:
- European Union Member States–Ireland, Portugal, Finland and Malta.
- Schengen members–Norway and Iceland.
- Third countries–The U.K., China (including Hong Kong and Macau) and Thailand.
Arrivals from the red list can only enter with a negative Covid-19 test result and they must take another upon arrival:
- European Union Member States–Belgium, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Luxembourg, Romania, Italy, Spain, Greece, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Denmark, Slovenia, Estonia, Czech Republic, Latvia, Sweden, Lithuania and Germany.
- Small states–Andorra, Vatican City, Monaco and San Marino.
- Schengen members–Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
- Third countries–Rwanda, Russia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Belarus, Serbia, Qatar, United States of America, Armenia, Georgia, Bahrein.
Anyone else is on the grey list which is still mostly sealed off, except for specific special cases.
Czech Republic—under state of emergency until 17 May
Until 17 May, the country is under a state of emergency and so most travel is restricted except for essential reasons.
Travel requirements follow the ECDC’s traffic light system, where arrivals have been grouped into grey, dark red, red, yellow, and green categories, with grey being the most at risk.
Travelers from green areas can enter without restrictions whilst those arriving from yellow areas must fill in the arrival form and be in possession of a negative Covid-19 test result (antigen or PCR). The criteria for arrivals from red zones is the same, but in addition, people must enter quarantine and take a second PCR test on day 5, which must come out negative for people to release themselves. Arrivals from dark red countries must take PCR tests for entry and again on day 5 of quarantine (rather than antigen). An updated list of countries and lists can be found online.
Denmark—reopening to international travelers
Travelers can currently enter Denmark with a negative Covid-19 test result but there is still a ten-day quarantine in place for most arrivals, with some exceptions for countries on its yellow list, where no quarantine is required. This safe list currently includes Iceland, several regions of Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Israel.
This is part of a phased reopening of the country to international tourism. The final phase is planned for 26 June, to coincide with the launch of an EU digital vaccine certificate, when vaccinated passengers will be allowed in.
Estonia—vaccinated travelers welcome
However, as reported by Time Out, “travelers from anywhere in the world” can now arrive in Estonia and bypass quarantine, if they have had one of the Covid-19 vaccination jabs. The vaccine must have been administered in the past six months (or travelers are also exempt if they have had Covid-19).
Anyone from the EU/Schengen area, plus the U.K. is welcome if they do not have symptoms but anyone arriving from a place where the infection rate is higher than 150 people per 100,000 people in the last 14 days, must quarantine for 10 days. They can shorten this period if they arrive with a negative test and also receive a negative test on day 6.
Finland—restrictions extended to 25 May
Restrictions for entry into Finland were extended to 25 May 2021. For countries with high incidence rates, travel for recreational reasons is forbidden and any arrivals must enter a 14-day quarantine, which they can shorten with a negative test on arrival and one five days later.
Travelers from EU and Schengen countries are allowed in but they must have proof of a negative Covid-19 test, taken in the 72 hours prior to arrival and be traveling for an essential reason. There are no restrictions on entry for residents of Australia, South Korea, Rwanda, Singapore, Thailand and New Zealand, nor from the Vatican.
France—hopes to reopen to tourism in June
Travel is currently highly restricted in France, although since May 3, people can travel outside of their region, although a curfew remains in place, which will be entirely lifted by the end of June. From 19 May, shops will reopen and restaurants can serve outdoors.
Within the EU, people are allowed in, but discouraged, and must be in possession of a negative Covid-19 test result, taken not less than 72 hours before departure. All travel to/from non-EU countries is currently banned, although it is hoped the country will be ready to open to non-EU visitors from June onwards, using its Digital Green Certificate.
Germany—travel currently very limited
Germany is currently still lockdown after battling high infection rates, although the news looks promising–it is currently leading the EU for total number of vaccinations administered and regularly setting records for daily vaccine rates.
Currently, entry is possible for EU members, Schengen states and the countries approved by the EU with low infection rates: Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. Journeys must be approved the German border police and all travelers arriving into Germany must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test before they can board an aircraft, ferry, bus or train. Regardless of the result, arrivals from high-risk areas must quarantine for ten days, although requirements vary by region.
Greece—wants to reopen internationally on 14 May
Until 6am May 14, all non-EU citizens are not allowed to enter, except those from the EU’s safe list, plus the U.K. the UAE, the U.S., the Russian Federation and Israel. However, it is widely anticipated that Greece will open its borders to everyone from 14 May onwards, without the need to quarantine.
All passengers must fill in a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) and have taken a Covid-19 PCR test and received a negative result no more than 72 hours before departure. They will also be subject to random testing and everyone currently needs to quarantine for one week.
Hungary—borders are still closed except for athletes
Hungary closed its borders on September 1 2020 to all foreign nationals, after spiking rates of infection–and this order still stands. People can now enter if they are to perform at sporting events or other similar exemptions but they must undergo two tests (one before arrival and one after) and quarantine.
A curfew is still in place and while restaurants reopened at the end of April, they are open-air, outdoor only.
Iceland—visitors banned from high risk countries
Since 18 March, travelers arriving from anywhere in the world have been allowed to enter if they can show proof of having been vaccinated (obviously twice, with a two-dose vaccine) or having had Covid-19. However, once inside Iceland, travel is not permitted to other Schengen area zones for non-Schengen residents.
For the unvaccinated, people arriving from low-risk countries can visit the country with a negative Covid-19 test result, taken no longer than 72 hours before the journey and quarantine is still required for up to five days and then take another test. Children and vaccinated passengers will still be asked to test upon arrival.
If people arrive from high-risk countries (where the 14-day case notification rate exceeds 500 per 100,000 inhabitants), they must quarantine in a government-appointed facility at a cost of ISK 10,000 per night per room, including food (about $80).
All travellers from countries in which the incidence of infection surpasses 700 per 100,000 population will be banned from entering Iceland’s territory until May 31.
Ireland—life will “be relatively normal” by August
Ireland is slowly emerging from lockdown and starting May 10, locals can travel outside of their county for the first time in over four months, as reported by Condé Nast Traveler. From mid-May, weddings will be allowed, shops can slowly reopen and so too, can restaurants and bars. Irish leader, Leo Varadkar said he hopes that life will be ‘relatively normal’ again by August.
Ireland is using the ECDC’s traffic light map of travel restrictions, meaning it adheres to the same guidelines as most other EU countries. Everyone arriving in Ireland must quarantine (except from Northern Ireland) but people without a negative PCR test and/or arriving from a high-risk country, must quarantine in a government-mandated hotel. All arrivals into Ireland must complete a Passenger Locator Form and be in possession of a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours before departure.
Italy—plans to reopen from May, without quarantine
The country is still in a state of semi-lockdown across the country with different regions operating different opening systems for public services and private businesses.
Any travelers must currently arrive with a negative Covid-19 test result and quarantine for ten days (this is reduced to five days for EU/Schengen area arrivals). However, Prime Minister Draghi announced plans to reopen the country from mid-May and scrap the quarantine rule to “visitors who can show that they are negative, vaccinated or immune.” Italy plans to regulate this using its version of the EU’s Digital Green Certificate, which it wants up and running by mid May–at which point it has confirmed that U.S. visitors would also be allowed to visit.
Latvia—only essential travel allowed
The country is urging everyone “to refrain from travelling unless it is absolutely necessary.” However, if travel is urgent and essential, it is possible from an EU country, providing travelers meet the requirements.
In this context, anyone arriving from an EU country where the 14-day cumulative indicator is higher than 50, must go into a 10-day quarantine, which currently affects most EU countries plus the U.K., as per ECDC recommendations.
All arrivals must fill in an electronic form 48 hours before arriving in the country and all arrivals must have proof of a negative Covid-19 test.
These conditions are likely to stay in place until 9 June.
Lithuania—negative tests and quarantine in place
The country has been following the ECDC traffic light map for allowing access and travel is very restricted. Lithuania is allowing access from most EEA countries but all arrivals must have proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken up to 48 hours before entry and a 10-day mandatory quarantine is required regardless of the result, although people can ‘test out’ with a negative result on day 7. An updated list of countries can be found online.
Luxembourg—borders open to EU with negative tests
Luxembourg has not restricted its border from other European visitors, regardless of the purpose of the visit, although travel from outside Europe is banned except for those visitors from the countries deemed low risk by the EU–Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. However, anyone boarding an aircraft to Luxembourg must have had a negative Covid-19 test result taken in the 72 hours beforehand or they will have to quarantine for 14 days or until a negative test is presented.
Malta—open to international travel on 1 June
The government has issued a new timeline of reopening bars and restaurants with tourism allowed from 1 June with the government offering a payment to entice tourists to visit. From that date it plans to allow vaccinated travelers into the country using the EU’s Digital Green Certificate.
Until then, Malta is operating a system of green, amber and red lists irrespective of whether someone has been vaccinated or not.
Travelers arriving from countries on the green list don’t have any restrictions and will not be subject to a swab test upon arrival, although there are currently zero countries on the green list.
Other countries are on an ‘amber list’ where visitors need to show negative Covid-19 tests taken within 72 hours prior to boarding flights to Malta and will be subject to random swab tests upon arrival. As of 10 May, amber list countries are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China (Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan included), Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the U.K., Uruguay and Vatican City.
All other countries are on the red list and arrivals from these must have spent at least the 14 days prior in a safe corridor country before reaching Malta. It is also recommended that they take a PCR test 72 hours before they arrive.
The Netherlands—follow the 6-point plan
The government is still advising that no one travels to the Netherlands. There is an updated 6-point check list for anyone looking to travel to the Netherlands, namely:
1) you must be resident in the EU/Schengen area, but there are exemptions.
2) there is a current flight ban for India, South Africa and Central and South American flights.
3) travelers arriving by aircraft, ship, train or coach must have proof of a negative molecular NAAT test (PCR, RT PCR, LAMP, TMA or mPOCT) taken 72 hours before arrival. There are some exemptions, e.g. lorry drivers.
4) anyone arriving by air or sea from a high-risk country must also take a rapid nasal swab test before departure.
5) if you are traveling by air, you must fill in a health declaration form.
6) all travelers must quarantine for 10 days and can test out after day 5 with a negative test result.
Travel is also allowed for nationals or residents of the EU-wide safe list.
Norway—borders still closed and under 12s tested
Norway’s borders are closed to everyone except Norwegian nationals and residents, even other EU countries until at least 24 May. Of these travelers, anyone arriving from a red, high-risk region must have a negative Covid-19 test result with them. A ten-day quarantine is also required in a government-mandated hotel.
As of 19 April, because of the rise in new Covid-19 variants, children under the age of 12 are also required to get tested for Covid-19 at the border.
Poland—borders being gradually relaxed
Borders are open for EU and EFTA nationals but anyone arriving by public transport must self-isolate for 10 days, unless they have a negative Covid-19 test result with them. Poland is also allowing vaccinated travelers to visit without quarantine.
Portugal—travel opening from 17 May
Portugal ended its state of emergency on 30 April and relaxed its border with Spain on 1 May. Despite its loosening of restrictions, tourism is still not advocated.
Portugal hopes to open its borders with the U.K. on 17 May, the same day that the U.K. has given the go-ahead for travel between the two countries on its side–The Telegraph reported that sales are booming between both countries. It is hoped, therefore that U.S. and other third-party visitors with high vaccination rates might be allowed in soon afterwards, as reported by Condé Nast Traveler.
At present, people with EU/Schengen area residents can enter but third-party nationals cannot. Of the arrivals allowed in from EU/Schengen area countries, there are specific rules and most are only allowed in for essential reasons. Travelers from Cyprus, Croatia, France, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Sweden (countries with an incidence rate of 500 cases or more per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days) and from Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Spain, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania and Switzerland (countries with an incidence rate of 150 cases or more and less than 500 cases per 100 000 inhabitants in the last 14 days) are only allowed for essential reasons.
As per the government’s instructions, all passengers, excluding children under 24 months, must be in possession of a negative RT-PCR SARS-CoV-2 test taken within 72 hours of boarding.
Romania—expects to lift travel restrictions by end May
People coming from the following countries are allowed to enter but must quarantine for 14 days: Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bermuda, Bonaire, Saint Eustatius & Saba, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Greece, Germany, Georgia, Hungary, Iran, Italy, Jordan, Kosovo, Kuweit, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Oman, Mongolia, Montenegro, The Netherlands, Northern Macedonia, Maldives, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Puerto Rico, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the U.S. and Uruguay.
A negative Covid-19 test result will allow travelers to be released from self-isolation after day ten. If travelers have been vaccinated at least ten days before arrival, they do not need to quarantine, nor if they have had Covid-19 during the past 90 days. The government expects to lift most restrictions at the end of May.
Slovakia—travel bans extended to 28 May
Existing rules have been extended until 28 May meaning that unnecessary travel is not allowed abroad. All arrivals, even from EU/Schengen areas must arrive with proof of a negative Covid-19 test and will need to quarantine, as reported by EuroNews. Everyone needs to register using an online form.
Slovakia has recently made anyone exempt of the quarantine or Covid-19 testing measure if they have a permanent or temporary home within 100 km of an open border.
Slovenia—most of the world still on ‘red list’
Whilst the borders are technically open, many countries around the world are still on the red list, including most of the EU, where arrivals must possess a negative Covid-19 PCR test or quarantine for ten days. Arrivals from any country not on the red list can enter unimpeded.
Spain—curfew ends, non-EU travelers banned until 31 May
Spain emerged from a six month state of emergency on 9 May with people partying in the streets across the country, celebrating as if it were New Year’s Eve. It is now up to individual states to put local restrictions in place to control the virus although all intra-regional travel bans have been lifted, as has the curfew.
Arrivals from outside the EU/Schengen area have been banned until 31 May when the situation will be reviewed again–Spain recently said it hoped to open its borders to third-party countries from June onwards. All EU and U.K. arrivals must be in possession of a negative Covid-19 test result taken within 72 hours.
Sweden—travel ban to 31 May
As of May 7, more than 10% of Sweden’s adults have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine (826,762 people), and 34.8% (2,852,689) have received at least one dose, as reported by The Local.
Sweden extended a ban on all non-essential travel from outside the EU/EEA area until May 31 and everyone arriving must have a negative Covid-19 test taken in the 48 hours prior to arrival. The Public Health Agency of Sweden recommends a further test on day five after arrival and to stay at home for at least seven days after arrival.
Switzerland—sharply falling rates but still restricted
Switzerland’s Covid-19 infection rates have been falling far more quickly than anticipated, notably because of ‘seasonality’–with the warmer weather, people are spending more time outdoors, and so the chances of being infected are greatly reduced, as reported by The Local.
However, this is also due to the success of its vaccination effort. The country has administered less jabs than other EU countries, only 30 per 100 people so far, but it has concentrated on getting second doses to vulnerable people and so has the fourth highest number of fully-vaccinated people in the EU after Denmark, Spain and Italy. It has also the shortest time period of any EU country in providing access to second doses (four weeks on average between shots).
Travelers from EU and Schengen area countries are allowed to enter Switzerland but quarantine will still be required if one of these countries are currently on Switzerland’s high-risk list (updated every two weeks). Restriction is still prohibited from third-party countries outside the EU except a handful of ‘safe’ countries.
Everyone arriving needs to present a negative Covid-19 test (antigen or PCR) and fill in a questionnaire which will guide people on measures to take. Switzerland announced on 28 April that it is working on its own version of the EU’s Digital Green Certificate to allow travel during the summer.
U.K.–travel allowed between 12 countries from 17 May
As the U.K. slowly eases out of its lockdown, life is returning to a new normal, with bars and restaurants in the process of being allowed to reopen on a stage by stage basis.
Travel for tourism is banned until 17 May, when people will be allowed to move between countries navigating a traffic light system of travel restrictions.
People can travel to and from green list countries with a negative PCR test before travel and another one on day two inside the U.K. There are 12 countries on the U.K.’s safe list where no quarantine is required after 17 May:
- New Zealand
- Faroe Islands
- Falkland Islands
- Israel and Jerusalem
- South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
- Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
- Portugal, including the Azores and Madeira
Arrivals from amber list countries would also need a negative Covid-19 test before travel and they will need to self-isolate for ten days upon arriving/return to the U.K. These people need to take a PCR test on days 2 and 8. They can still use the test and release scheme to ‘test out’ of quarantine on day 5, as reported by The Guardian. This list currently includes most of the traditional EU holiday destinations and the U.S.
All other countries are on the red, high-risk list, where all arrivals must quarantine in government-appointed hotels for ten days.
The lists were seen as a huge disappointment for airlines carriers, which had been pushing for a resumption of international travel between the U.S. and the U.K. on 17 May.
These lists are expected to be updated every three weeks and the U.K. government has already set a date for the resumption of travel between more countries on 1 July.
Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have not yet announced if they will adhere to the same restrictions.