What you need to know about traveling to Europe this summer

In non-pandemic summers, mainland Europe and the UK attract crowds of tourists from all over the world. Last summer, they couldn’t get there. This summer, many should be able to do so, although the tangle of entry requirements will vary by country and could change quickly.

Here is a guide to help you determine where and when you can go on vacation this summer in the 27 member countries of the European Union and in non-EU European countries.

When can I leave?

This will vary depending on the country visited and the traveler’s home country. Across Europe and the UK, entry requirements and requirements differ from country to country, as does the timing. The EU is trying to create more universal requirements for tourism, but each country retains sovereign powers to control its borders in the event of an emergency.

There are currently nine countries on the EU’s “white list”, a list of countries whose citizens are allowed to take non-essential trips (such as vacation trips) to the European Union. As of June 3, when the last list was released, the countries on the whitelist were Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and China. This list is expected to be updated shortly and may include the United States.

On May 20, the EU also adopted a “road map” or recommendation that would allow vaccinated travelers from outside the EU to travel to Europe; details are expected to be finalized by the end of June. The roadmap will give each country an “emergency brake” mechanism that would close borders in the event of a new Covid-19 epidemic, whether in the traveler’s country of destination or origin.

While EU-wide policies are still being finalized, a number of European countries have opened or will soon open their borders to non-European travelers under certain conditions; these include Greece, France, Italy, Spain, Turkey and Iceland.

Meanwhile, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – the UK’s four countries that are no longer part of the EU – have each set their own criteria for travel. tourism, reviewed every three weeks. These criteria involve a red, amber, and green system that can result in quarantine and various tests, depending on the traveler’s country of origin.

What proof will be needed to show that I have been completely and correctly vaccinated?

In May, the EU adopted the concept of an ‘EU Covid digital certificate’ for its own citizens, proposing that it be in place by July 1. This would digitally prove that the certificate holder had been fully vaccinated with an EU-approved vaccine (AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna or Pfizer), had recovered from Covid-19, or had tested negative for it .

While it is hoped that Americans will eventually be able to digitally provide the same information when they travel to Europe, in order to enter, it is unclear when and how this will happen, in part because the government American has not implemented a similar digital system. system. Currently, it appears that Americans may be able to provide other types of evidence, such as their paper vaccination card, for travel within the EU.

Will I need a Covid-19 test?

A Covid-19 testing requirement will depend entirely on where you go. For example, from now on England requires some visitors to take tests before and after arrival. Italy now allows passengers on “special Covid-tested flights” from the United States, Canada, Japan and the United Arab Emirates; passengers on these flights must be tested for Covid-19 before departure and upon arrival in Italy, as well as upon departure from Italy.

Anyone aged 2 and over returning to the United States will need to be tested within three days of their flight departing or prove that they have recovered from Covid-19.

Can I book now, before the rules are finalized?

You can certainly, although thoroughly research the cancellation and refund policies of any airline, hotel, tour operator, or attraction you are considering before booking, in case anything changes – in your health or in the pandemic situation. in your country or the country you are visiting – this would cause you to cancel your trip.

Jennifer Tombaugh, president of Tauck, a Connecticut-based tour operator specializing in travel to Europe, said travelers can “absolutely book now, but they need to make sure they have a very good understanding of the cost of travel. cancellation and any other restriction. The bottom line is that it is very important that you read the fine print, understand what payment is required when, what is refundable and what is not. A knowledgeable and trendy tour operator or travel agent can help.

How quickly will destinations be booked, once new rules are announced?

It will depend on the destination and whether it already accepts tourists, for example from other European countries, USA or Asia.

Greece, which has been welcoming some tourists since mid-April, is a popular destination that will likely be booked quickly. The same goes for Portugal, which ended the ban on British tourists earlier this month (May).

It will probably be easier to book a vacation in a large European or UK city, where many hotel rooms are likely to be available, than in a small resort town with limited accommodation options.

Will it be difficult to book a reasonably priced flight to Europe?

Terry Dale, President and CEO of the United States Tour Operators Association, suggests “book now – if you’re serious, get yourself a placeholder.”

He and Eduardo Santander, executive director and chief executive of the European Travel Commission, a non-profit organization that represents European national tourism boards, expect there may be a capacity shortage on flights to Europe, because travel there is very dynamic, it is not easy for carriers to respond quickly to increases in demand.

However, Craig Jenks, an expert in the transatlantic air transport market, believes that if you “book closer there will be opportunities” somewhere, due to the imbalances between demand and supply. He suggests monitoring flights on websites like Google, Expedia, and Travelocity.

Will I be able to cancel if there is a new shutdown or other unforeseen event?

It will be entirely up to the travel provider – such as an airline, hotel, or tour operator – that you have booked. While most airlines have been very flexible in not applying cancellation or rebooking fees during the pandemic, and some have even eliminated some change fees, it’s unclear how long their flexibility will last. if the demand for air travel continues to strengthen.

Travel agents encourage the purchase of travel insurance: Some policies are now available to cover pandemic-related disruptions, such as Covid-related cancellation, Covid medical coverage, and additional accommodation or transportation.

Will I be able to visit more than one country in Europe, whether I am traveling by land or on a cruise ship?

This situation is constantly evolving, as vaccination programs are deployed, allowing the opening of borders, and as new variants are discovered, which close borders. When the EU reaches an agreement on reopening standards and uses the Covid digital certificate, intra-European travel should be relatively easy and possible.

But, from now on, for example, Americans can go to Greece without quarantine, but they cannot visit Germany or the Netherlands. If you are working with a tour operator or cruise line, they will have the latest information on intra-European travel.

Will I have to undergo a test or quarantine when I return to my home country?

It will depend entirely on the regulations in your home country. As mentioned, almost all air travelers entering the United States must either take a pre-arrival test or prove that they have recovered from Covid.

What are the best sources of information to help me plan my trip?

Reopen.Europa.EU is an EU-run website that provides an overview of the health situation in European countries and information on the various restrictions in place, including quarantine and testing requirements for travelers, and on mobile contact tracing and coronavirus alert applications.

The Sherpa website is an independent Toronto-based resource that offers the latest information on travel documents and requirements around the world.

The European Travel Commission website provides links to specific information on Covid for the countries of its members. Also check the website of any airlines you are considering booking for their latest requirements.

Tom Jenkins, CEO of ETOA, the professional association of European tour operators, believes that major European cities have been hit by the pandemic and will therefore change. “The service economy in Europe adapts to huge changes in demand. Still, now is the perfect time to go. Michelangelo’s “David” and da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” haven’t caught Covid and they feel very lonely. “

“It will be an exciting and wild time,” predicts Tombaugh. “Expect the unexpected and have a sense of humor to make the most of the new world of travel that we are all discovering. “


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