After more than a year off-limits, much of Europe opened back up to Americans last year. Between testing and vaccination requirements, entry restrictions have frequently changed. And now there’s a new requirement on the horizon: COVID-19 booster shots.
The European Commission moved last month to recognize vaccine certificates for just 270 days (nine months) from the final dose. That effectively makes booster shots mandatory to enter many European countries: As of today, getting your last COVID-19 jab any earlier than late April 2021 would fall outside of that 270-day window.
It’s up to individual countries to implement those requirements – and that’s exactly what many countries are doing. In fact, some are going even farther than the European Union’s guidance, leading to even more confusion with a patchwork of vaccine requirements that vary from country to country.
It will require some additional research … but the writing is on the wall: Getting a booster shot will be a must to get in and get around Europe. Here’s a look at some of the countries that have already required booster shots and where it’s heading next.
Check out our full country-by-country guide to European travel restrictions!
After a recent nationwide lockdown, Austria has tightened entry requirements. But you’ve got options.
You’ll need to provide proof of recovery from COVID-19 or proof of vaccination, valid for 270 days from your final dose. In addition to proof of recovery or a normal vaccination card, you’ll need to provide either:
- Proof of booster shot, which is valid from day 1 after it’s administered, or
- A negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Austria
As is the case throughout much of Europe, a standard Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) card should be all Americans need for entry into Austria. Children under 12 are exempt from testing or vaccination requirements so long as they’re accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult.
Read more on Austria’s entry requirements
Czechia (The Czech Republic)
A booster shot is already your ticket to easier entry into the Czech Republic – and soon, it’ll be mandatory
Only fully vaccinated Americans and other tourists are allowed to visit Czechia without being required to quarantine upon arrival. Today, proof of a full round of COVID-19 vaccinations and a booster allows travelers to skip the requirement for a negative PCR COVID-19 test.
But as of Feb. 1, Czechia will only consider travelers fully vaccinated within nine months of the last dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That means you’ll need a booster in order to get into the country. Fortunately, Czechia’s newest regulations state that a booster shot will extend the validity of your COVID-19 vaccine certificate “indefinitely.”
France has gone farther than almost any country to require booster shots. You may not just need your booster to enter France … you may also need it to do pretty much anything once you’re on the ground.
France already required travelers to present both proof of full vaccination as well as a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or rapid antigen) taken no more than 48 hours before departure. But as of Jan. 15, France only honors vaccination certificates with the last dose administered no more than 210 days (about seven months) earlier.
That means a booster may be required not just to enter France, but also to obtain France’s “pass sanitaire” in order to enter bars, restaurants, museums, and other indoor settings. A recent negative COVID-19 test was previously accepted for those passes, but that’s changing after a recent move by the French government as it rebrands the pass sanitare to a “Vaccine Pass.”
Travelers can get a Vaccine Pass from designated pharmacies for a fee of up to 36 Euros – here’s a list of designated pharmacies where you can obtain a pass.
Children under 12 are exempt from vaccination requirements, while children aged 12 to 18 are exempt from the new booster requirement.
Iceland was the first country in Europe to reopen to American travelers way back in March 2021. But it’s also gone farther to add additional entry requirements than many other countries.
For months, you’ve needed proof of vaccination and a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter Iceland. And as of Jan. 15, Iceland only considers you fully vaccinated within nine months of your final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a news release from the Prime Minister’s office.
That means you’ll likely need a booster shot in order to get into Iceland for an upcoming trip. We haven’t yet seen this change updated on Iceland’s official entry regulations, but it’s worth keeping your eye on.
Providing proof of recovery from a previous COVID-19 infection also will get you into Iceland.
Spain is also making booster shots mandatory for entry in just a few weeks time.
Spain has been open to American travelers and others for many months, making proof of vaccination mandatory over the summer as the Delta variant led to skyrocketing case rates. As of Feb. 1, Spain will only recognize vaccination certificates with a last dose administered no more than 270 days prior – about nine months.
That means you’ll likely need a booster shot on your vaccine card for entry into Spain as of February. Children under 12 years old are exempt so long as they’re accompanying fully vaccinated adults.
This is just the start.
Weeks after the European Commission’s initial move, it’s clear that much of Europe will make booster shots more or less mandatory for all. Planning to visit Europe anytime soon? You’ll likely need a booster shot listed on your vaccination card.