From a near ban on travel to Bulgaria from the United States to a green light from Portugal and a new quarantine requirement in the Netherlands, the updated entry requirements from various countries since the European Council removed the United States from its approved travel list have been all over the place.
After the European Council announced its decision to remove the U.S. from its safe travel list earlier this week, many travelers were left wondering if and how the decision would affect their travel plans. The answers depend on how individual countries in the 27-nation Europe Union respond to the recommendation, which is just that, a nonbinding recommendation.
Each country in Europe ultimately has the final say on what its requirements are—and will be—for travelers entering its borders. Thus far, a handful of European countries have updated their policies since August 30, offering a sense of how individual governments are reacting. After more than a year and a half of travelers having to chase down constant changes to entry requirements around the world (and honestly getting rather used to them), the latest round of updates in Europe has proven to be no exception to what has been a never-ending patchwork of new rules and regulations to navigate.
Bulgaria prohibits travel from the U.S.
On the one hand, you have Bulgaria, which on September 1 classified the United States as a “red zone” country, meaning that all travelers arriving from the U.S., regardless of vaccination status, can only enter if they have a valid exception—in short, nonessential travel is out. “The fact that you are vaccinated or have a negative COVID test result is not considered an exception,” reports the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria. Interestingly, though, Bulgaria’s requirements are based on where you are traveling from, not citizenship, so U.S. travelers arriving from “green” or “orange” zone countries may enter Bulgaria.
Portugal remains open to U.S. travelers
On the other hand, Portugal this week announced that it will remain open to travelers from the United States despite the European Council decision. Just as before, travelers from the U.S., regardless of vaccination status, must simply present a negative PCR or antigen COVID test procured within 72 hours of boarding their flight to enter Portugal. Children under 12 are exempt.
The Netherlands adds a quarantine for vaccinated travelers
Starting September 4, the Netherlands is classifying the United States as “very high risk,” meaning that travelers from the U.S. can only enter the country if they are fully vaccinated and submit to a mandatory 10-day quarantine. As of September 6, a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test performed within 24 hours prior to departure will also be required of vaccinated travelers entering the Netherlands.
Italy restricts unvaccinated leisure travelers, adds test for vaccinated
In Italy, the latest changes have resulted in a new testing requirement for the vaccinated and no access for unvaccinated leisure travelers. Prior to August 31, Americans could enter Italy as long as they were vaccinated, had recovered from COVID, or presented a negative COVID test result. As of August 31, only those who are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID can enter (which means that unvaccinated leisure travelers won’t be allowed to enter), and they will also need to have a negative molecular or antigen COVID test result from within 72 hours of travel.
Germany prohibits unvaccinated leisure travelers
Similarly to Italy, Germany is also no longer allowing unvaccinated Americans to enter after removing the United States this week from its list of unrestricted countries. Those arriving from countries that are not on the list must either be vaccinated or be traveling for an essential reason (such as an approved work purpose).
Denmark requires unvaccinated U.S. travelers to quarantine
In Denmark, the rules have changed ever so slightly. Vaccinated U.S. travelers are still welcome to enter Denmark, but those who have recovered from COVID-19 now need a “worthy purpose” to enter—such as for work, studies, family, legal, or real estate matters—and unvaccinated U.S. travelers must now quarantine after arrival in addition to providing a negative COVID-19 PCR test from within 72 hours of boarding and then getting tested again upon arrival (they didn’t have to quarantine before).
France, Spain, Greece, Austria, and other European countries have not yet announced changes
Neither France nor Spain has updated its entry requirements yet, and it is unclear when or whether they will do so. The same is true for several additional countries, including Greece and Austria.
The European Council recommends that only vaccinated travelers, those traveling for essential reasons, and those traveling for nonessential reasons from the list of approved countries should be allowed to enter the European Union. So, it is likely that as new conditions continue to be implemented, they will be most significant for unvaccinated travelers.