Travel to Europe: A Reopening Timeline, Country by Country

France Eases Coronavirus Lockdown
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Europe was one of the regions hardest hit by the novel coronavirus at the beginning of the pandemic, but after strict lockdowns, many countries saw steep declines in death and infection rates in the summer of 2020. As the second wave arrived in the second half of the year, new hotspots emerged and many countries tightened restrictions and some imposed full lockdowns that have been extended into the early months of 2021.

In late December, a new strain of the coronavirus reported to be 50 to 70 percent more contagious was discovered in the UK. This prompted many countries in Europe to impose new travel bans and harsher restrictions on all travelers coming from the UK. By January, most European countries have stringent restrictions—if not full lockdowns— in place, and travel between European countries is becoming more difficult as many countries close their borders to non-citizens and non-residents.

The European Union (EU) maintains its ban on citizens from the U.S. and other highly-affected countries. Despite the second wave, some borders are still somewhat open across the EU and the Schengen Area, as well as for tourists from 15 non-European countries that have been deemed epidemiologically safe by the EU. This list includes Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay, and China (on the condition of reciprocity by China).

The list is just a recommendation, and EU member countries are not obligated to stick to it. Some countries are working off a more limited list, while others had been allowing citizens of countries not on the list, like the United States, to enter. Every European country is handling the crisis differently, so read on to learn the latest travel requirements and lockdown conditions in each.

Austria

Austria is in lockdown until February 7. U.S. citizens are not allowed to enter Austria and a travel warning remains in place for Austrians who wish to visit the U.S. Approved travelers arriving from high-risk countries need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, taken within 72 hours and will need to quarantine for 10 days. Travelers will also need to register their trip online before entering Austria.

The Baltics

U.S. citizens are not allowed to enter any of the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Travelers from other high-risk countries may have to show a negative test or agree to quarantine. The ministries of health for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, each maintain their own lists of countries considered high-risk.

Belgium

Belgium's borders are still open to travelers from the European Union, as well as nine of the epidemiologically-safe countries, but not to U.S. citizens. Anyone allowed to travel will also be required to fill out a Public Health Passenger Locator Form. Belgium's government introduced a new requirement for all travelers arriving from a red zone to be tested on their first and seventh day in Belgium and to quarantine until the second test returns negative.

Bulgaria

In late November, Bulgaria's case rates surged and the country went back into lockdown. Bulgaria is allowing citizens of the EU and Schengen Area countries to enter in addition to 13 countries on the EU's list, plus the United Arab Emirates. Until January 31, all non-Bulgarian nationals arriving from the UK will be denied entry. U.S. citizens are not allowed to enter Bulgaria unless they qualify for an exception.

Croatia

In December, Croatia officially closed its borders to foreign tourists, not including EU citizens, residents, and travelers from the EU's list of approved countries. In December, the Croatian government announced they would prohibit entry for any non-Croatian travelers arriving from the UK.  These restrictions have been extended until January 31, 2021. Although Americans were previously allowed to enter in 2020, Croatia's borders remain closed to U.S. citizens at this time.

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has extended its lockdown measures until January 22, 2021. Anyone entering from anywhere other than the approved low-risk countries will be required to complete an online Health Passenger Locator form and take a test in the Czech Republic within five days after arriving to be submitted to the nearest hygiene office. If not, a quarantine order will be issued.

UK travelers, entering the Czech Republic for essential purposes, must present a negative test taken within 72 hours of preparing and must quarantine until their fifth-day test comes back negative. U.S. citizens are not permitted to enter the Czech Republic.

Denmark

In January, Denmark limited travel from all other countries, and a lockdown is in place until February 7. U.S. citizens are not allowed to enter Denmark unless they qualify for "a worthy purpose," which could mean anything from having a job interview or business meeting in Denmark. If a traveler qualifies for one of these exceptions, they will be required to show a negative test taken within 72 hours before arriving.

Britain Applauds Key Workers As Worldwide Coronavirus Cases Tops 5 Million
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Finland

Until February 9, Finland has prohibited all entry of non-resident foreigners and requires a 10-day quarantine for anyone eligible to enter if their origin country has infection rates above 25 per 100,000 people, travelers will have to get tested before leaving and upon arrival in Finland. Passenger flights from the UK, Ireland, and South Africa have been suspended until January 25.

Travelers arriving from EU and Schengen countries with a lower rate of infection, as well as the pre-approved countries of Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Uruguay, and the Vatican will not have to quarantine or show a negative test. U.S. citizens are not allowed to enter Finland for tourism unless they qualify for an exception.

France

After imposing a six-week lockdown in October, France has lifted travel restrictions, but bars and restaurants will stay closed until February. France is open to travelers from any EU country, Andorra, the Holy See, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, and Switzerland.  U.S. citizens are not allowed to enter France. After a brief shutdown of travel to and from the UK, France loosened restrictions to allow travelers who qualify for an exception to travel from the UK, as long as they provide a negative PCR test and isolate for seven days.

Germany

Germany entered a full lockdown in mid-December, which will keep all non-essential businesses and services closed until February. During the lockdown, overnight stays for tourists will not be allowed and travelers arriving from any high-risk area will be required to quarantine for 10 days. Any traveler who has spent time in the UK arriving by another means will also need to show a negative test result taken within 48 hours of entering Germany in addition to the 10-day quarantine.

Greece

After a surge of cases in the fall, the government of Greece ordered a three-week nationwide lockdown, which was later extended indefinitely. Before the lockdown, Greece had been welcoming citizens of EU countries, in addition to 11 countries on the EU's list. All travelers must show a negative test taken within 72 hours of arriving in Greece and new measures will require all international travelers to quarantine for seven days of their trip until the lockdown is over. Travelers arriving from the UK will be tested on arrival in addition to the minimum seven-day quarantine. UK nationals may be denied entry if they do not hold residence in an approved country.

Hungary

Hungary shut its borders in September to all international travelers, including the EU and Schengen countries, and has not yet reopened. This decision followed a spike in cases and also increasing fears of a second wave as infection rates rise across Europe. Some exceptions for entry into Hungary may be granted for U.S. citizens, but those travelers will still need to show a negative test or self-quarantine for 10 days. 

Iceland

Iceland has lifted travel restrictions for travelers from the EU, Schengen Area, and countries deemed epidemiologically-safe, but not U.S. travelers. All travelers who arrive in Iceland can choose between a 14-day quarantine or a five-day quarantine that requires testing negative for COVID-19 twice. Before traveling to Iceland, travelers will need to fill out the pre-registration form and download Iceland's contact tracing app. Travelers will be tested first upon arrival in Iceland and will need to register their quarantine location with the government. As of December 10, travelers who can prove they already contracted and recovered from COVID-19, with an antibody test conducted in Europe, will be allowed to skip quarantine and testing procedures.

Ireland

On December 30, the government announced that Ireland would return to Level 5 restrictions, which will stay in place until January 31, 2021. Any traveler arriving from Great Britain or South Africa will need to show a negative test and self-isolate for 14 days. Anyone, including U.S. and Irish citizens, coming from a country that's not on Ireland's Green List will need to fill out a Passenger Locator Form is strongly advised to quarantine for 14 days.

Italy

Until March 5, only travelers who hold official residence in Italy will be allowed to enter. A negative test taken within 72 hours will be required to fly and travelers must submit to another test upon arrival and a 14-day quarantine. Prior to travel, all travelers must complete a self-declaration form. U.S. citizens are not allowed to enter Italy unless they are traveling from an exempted country for a qualified exception.

The Netherlands

All international travelers who are traveling to the Netherlands from countries exempt from the EU travel ban, will not be allowed to enter the Netherlands without a negative test result. As of January 1, 2021, only EU and Schengen Area nationals will be allowed to enter the Netherlands for non-essential purposes. Anyone entering the Netherlands must be tested within 72 hours of departure, fill out a health screening form at the airport, and self-isolate for 10 days. Additionally, travelers from the UK will need a negative antigen test taken within four hours before boarding their flight. U.S. citizens are not allowed to enter the Netherlands.

Norway

Anyone traveling to Norway will be required to quarantine for 10 days, except for some European countries and regions that have been deemed low-risk. All travelers must be tested upon arrival and travelers from high-risk countries must also show a negative test before departing for Norway. Norway is still closed to travelers outside of Europe, including U.S. citizens. UK travelers will not be allowed to enter Norway unless they qualify for an exception.

Poland

Poland restricts entry of all foreign nationals except for citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Georgia, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Thailand, South Korea, Tunisia, and Australia. U.S. citizens may be allowed to enter if they qualify for an exception, but they will be required to self-quarantine. Anyone entering Poland by public transportation after must self-isolate on arrival. 

Portugal Impacted By Coronavirus
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Portugal

Portugal does not require testing or quarantine for citizens of the EU and Schengen Area and nine of the countries deemed epidemiologically-safe by the EU. However, all travelers flying to the island territories of Madeira and the Azores are required to follow more specific measures. As of December 20, Portugal is only allowing Portuguese citizens and legal European residents to enter Portugal from the UK, but they must present a negative test. Americans are not allowed to travel directly to Portugal from the United States, but they will be allowed to enter if they arrive from an approved EU member state or an epidemiologically-safe country that they are a resident of.

Romania

Current restrictions in Romania include a nightly curfew and imposed closing times for businesses. Romania reopened for tourism for EU and Schengen Area countries in July but still restricts entry from high-risk countries like the U.S. UK nationals are not allowed to enter Romania unless they qualify for an exemption, in which case they will need to show a negative test and quarantine for 14 days.

Russia

Russia has kept its borders closed to all non-Russian citizens, except for those who are traveling to Russia for medical treatment or to care for a relative. On August 1, international flights to Russia resumed, but only travelers that have a valid Russian visa or can demonstrate citizenship are allowed to enter. Everyone traveling to Russia will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within the previous three days of their arrival with no requirement to quarantine. All flights between the UK and Russia are suspended until February 1.

Serbia

After reopening for tourism in June with few limitations, the Serbian government introduced new restrictions in the fall requiring all foreigners, including U.S. citizens, arriving in Serbia to show a negative test result taken within 48 hours of arrival, but there's no need to quarantine. All non-essential businesses like restaurants and retail must close completely on weekends and by 5 p.m. on weekdays.

Spain

In Spain, lockdown restrictions vary by region, and an updated list of regulations by autonomous region can be found on the official Spanish Tourism Board website. U.S. citizens are not allowed to enter Spain unless they qualify for an exception or meet specific requirements. Until February 2, Spain is restricting passenger travel from the UK with exceptions for Spanish citizens and residents.

Spain still grants entry to citizens of eight of the EU's list of epidemiologically-safe countries, including Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand. Travelers coming from approved countries are asked to complete a health control form online, which will give them the QR code they will need to show upon entry in Spain in addition to undergoing a health check. Travelers from high-risk areas must also be tested within 72 hours of arriving in Spain.

Sweden

Sweden has imposed a partial lockdown that forces restaurants and bars to stop selling alcohol after 10 p.m., and public gatherings are limited to eight people. Despite Sweden's controversial decision to stay open at the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the government has now banned non-essential travel from visitors outside of the EU and 10 of the EU's epidemiologically-safe countries until March 31, 2021. Any exempt traveler from the UK or Denmark must provide a negative test before flying into Sweden. All other foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, are banned from entering Sweden until March 31, 2021.

Switzerland

In January, Switzerland has closed non-essential businesses and restaurants nationwide. Anyone traveling from a high-risk country will be refused entry, but borders are open to citizens and residents of Schengen Area countries, plus the epidemiologically-approved third countries. Switzerland will require Swiss residents returning from the UK to self-isolate for 10 days after arrival. U.S. citizens may be allowed to enter Switzerland if they are traveling for business, but not for tourism.

Turkey

Foreign tourists are exempt from curfews and do not need travel permits. Turkey has reopened its borders to travelers from many countries, including the U.S. All passengers traveling to Turkey will undergo a health exam upon arrival and must provide a negative test result taken within 72 hours before departure. Direct flights have been suspended between the UK and Turkey, and anyone who has visited the UK within 10 days before entering Turkey will be required to quarantine for 14 days in a government-approved facility.

Ukraine

The Ukrainian government has imposed a new lockdown until January 24. Because the U.S. is considered a "Red Zone" country, U.S. citizens are allowed to enter, but they will have to go into self-quarantine or be tested upon arrival at the airport in addition to showing proof of health insurance. 

United Kingdom

Each country within the United Kingdom—England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland—is operating independently to mitigate the spread of the virus and have different guidelines in place to manage the reopening. Upon the discovery of a more contagious strain of the virus circulating in the UK, more areas have moved into the highest tier of restrictions and anyone living in a fourth tier region will not be allowed to travel abroad unless they qualify for one of the government's limited exceptions. On its website, the BBC offers a tool to look up the latest COVID-19 restrictions by city.

Anyone entering the UK will need a negative test result to enter. The UK has not implemented an outright travel ban but currently enforces a strict 10-day quarantine for visitors coming from outside of approved countries within the travel corridor. As of December 15, it is possible to test out of the quarantine requirement on the fifth day, unless you are traveling from one of the countries listed on the government's official webpage.

Each country within the United Kingdom has its own list of approved "travel corridors," which can be found on the official websites of Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England. The United States is not on any of these lists, but U.S. citizens are eligible to travel to the UK so long as they fill out the Passenger Locator Form, get tested, and commit to self-isolating for 10 days.

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