At the beginning of the year, it looked like the summer of 2021 would be another victim of Covid-19. Europe and Canada were closed to visitors from the United States for non-essential travel. Then to salvage the summer travel season, Europe and Canada opened to non-essential travel but at least they were open. Shelly and I visited Switzerland at the end of June to celebrate our new freedom. That freedom may have been short-lived. Europe is pulling back the welcome mat for Americans.
There are multiple factors involved here that keep changing on a weekly basis. European countries dealing with Covid are in an up and down situation. Every week, I watch countries improve in the number of Covid cases and others go backward. The infection rate in the United States is at a peak. One of the factors that are irritating the European Union is that while they have opened their borders to Americans, we have not opened the borders to them. This also includes our neighbors to the north. Canada has allowed Americans to cross their border but Canadians are still banned from non-essential travel.
Keeping track of countries that are open and travel restrictions is like playing a game of whack-a-mole. The travel landscape changes every week. The CDC publishes travel guidance every week which can be found here.
Is Europe Allowing Americans To Enter?
The answer to this is generally yes. However, currently, there are three countries – Bulgaria, Norway and Sweden have banned Americans from non-essential travel. Again, these countries can change weekly so if you have plans for Europe, check that country’s immigration webpage for current travel requirements and restrictions.
Are The New EU Rules Binding On Member Nations?
The good news here is no. The European Union has dropped the United States from the Covid safe list. While the European Union makes recommendations to its member nations, the Covid rules are non-binding. There is no pressure for any member country to adopt the EU recommendations. Member nations can adopt some or all of the European Union guidelines. Since many of these countries are dependent on tourist dollars, local economies will likely play a part in decision-making.
Which European Countries Can Americans Visit?
This is a list that is fluid and subject to change on a weekly basis. As of today, these countries are still welcoming Americans:
- Czech Republic
- The Netherlands
Restrictions And Requirements
If the country that you plan to visit is open to Americans, you have passed the first hurdle. France, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and the United Kingdom require visitors to be fully vaccinated. Most countries will require a negative Covid test to enter and you may be subject to a quarantine period regardless of the results from your Covid test. Some countries require a Covid test upon entry and a quarantine period until the results are received.
Many countries have pre-clearance health screening requirements. For these countries, you will apply for your pre-clearance authorization by that country’s health website. Upon approval, you will receive an approval email with a QR code to be scanned upon passing through passport control.
There may be masking and social-distancing requirements either on a country or local level.
A new tactic is quarantine monitoring by cell phone. There are countries that require you to have their quarantine app on your phone that will keep tabs on your whereabouts during your quarantine period. We are planning a trip to Barbados for the end of the month and I will have to download their Covid app prior to our arrival.
If you are fully vaccinated, check with the countries that you plan to visit to see if your vaccine is on their approved vaccine list.
Check for restrictions and requirements for every country that you plan to visit well in advance of your trip.
Are Children Affected?
Generally speaking, traveling with children under the age of 12 should have no impact. Expect that children 12 and older to be subject to the same restrictions and requirements as adult travelers.
Is Travel To Europe Safe?
According to the CDC, the answer to that question is no. Even for the fully vaccinated, the CDC recommends that you stay home.
Actually, the Covid rates in Western Europe are lower than they are in the United States. Avoiding Covid hotspots should be observed. If you follow all Covid safety protocols and are fully vaccinated, you should be able to experience a safe trip to Europe. We were in Switzerland for the last week of June, we were fully vaccinated and we observed Covid safety protocols. I am happy to report that we came back safe and sound.
If you are planning to travel to Europe, frequently check for health updates for those countries. Check with each country that you plan to visit for its current restrictions and requirements. You may have to request pre-clearance authorization in advance of your departure from the United States. Whether there are vaccine mandates or not, you should follow the CDC’s advice for travel especially if you are not vaccinated.
The list of open and closed countries along with restrictions and requirements are a constantly moving target. What is true today may not be true tomorrow.