Two weeks after the European Union caused a stir with a call to restrict American travelers, the trend is clear: Got your shots? All is well. No proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19? You’re out of luck.
From Spain to France to Italy and many countries in between, countries across the continent have tightened their travel restrictions in recent weeks. In many cases, popular destinations have removed the option to present a negative COVID-19 test for entry while making clear that fully vaccinated Americans are still welcome.
We’re tracking all the changes in European travel restrictions, check our country-by-country guide!
Austria is the latest addition to that list.
Starting this Wednesday, Sept. 15, Americans will be required to prove they’re fully vaccinated or recovered in order to enter the country, according to the U.S. Embassy in Austria. Austria considers travelers fully vaccinated at least 14 days after receiving the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines – or 22 days after receiving a single Johnson & Johnson shot. Travelers who previously contracted COVID-19 can enter Austria by showing proof of recovery no more than 180 days earlier or with a positive antigen test from the last 90 days.
Americans who only have a negative COVID-19 test will now be forced to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival – though they can exit quarantine by testing negative starting on day five. Children under 12 are exempt from vaccination requirements.
That’s a marked change from when Austria first opened its borders to Americans back in late June. For months, a negative COVID-19 test taken within the last 72 hours was all it took to enter Austria.
The European Union’s vote in late August to restrict American travelers was merely a recommendation, calling on countries to pull back the reopening of travel from the spring and summer in light of surging COVID-19 cases driven by the Delta variant. But many countries have clearly heeded that warning. And Austria is far from alone in responding with tougher restrictions for unvaccinated travelers.
A Look Across Europe
Many countries across Europe have now essentially banned unvaccinated Americans, making proof of vaccination mandatory for entry while providing a pathway for those who previously contracted COVID-19 to get in. Many of the major tourist destinations across the continent no longer allow travelers with just a negative test to get in.
- Iceland made proof of vaccination mandatory from the very start when it became the first European country to reopen to Americans in mid-March. As concerns about the Delta variant first cropped up, Iceland made it harder for Americans to get in by adding a pre-travel testing requirement, too.
- Even before the EU’s action, Germany made proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 mandatory by removing an option to test negative for entry in mid-August.
- Italy immediately responded by following Iceland’s lead, requiring Americans to provide proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 in order to enter the country. Italy also has a so-called Green Pass system in place, requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter restaurants, cafes, and other indoor venues.
- Belgium took Italy’s approach and put it on steroids, allowing only fully vaccinated Americans to come but also requiring a brief quarantine and at least two negative COVID-19 tests. Arrivals must quarantine upon arrival but can exit on day 1 or Day 2 after testing negative for COVID-19, and then test again on Day 7.
- Spain had among the loosest entry restrictions on Americans for months, but that has changed. As of Sept. 6, only fully vaccinated Americans or those with proof of recovery from COVID-19 can enter. Spain backtracked on its initial plans to allow travelers with a recent negative COVID-19 test to get in.
- France also removed the option for unvaccinated Americans to enter the country with a negative COVID-19 test. Without proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19, you’ll only be allowed into France for essential travel – and that doesn’t include tourism. And even then, unvaccinated travelers must provide a negative COVID-19 test and quarantine for seven days upon arrival. Read more on the changes in France and Spain!
While most countries allow travelers with proof of recovery to enter, getting around once you’re there could be more complicated. From Italy to France and even Germany and Switzerland, many countries no require a negative test or proof of vaccination at hotels or to enter restaurants and other indoor spaces. In most cases, showing you’ve recovered from COVID-19 won’t cut it.
Some countries have cracked down even harder. The Netherlands has essentially shut out all Americans by requiring even vaccinated travelers to quarantine for at least five days upon arrival. Sweden responded by banning American travelers altogether.
The list of European countries that haven’t added new restrictions on American travelers is short. Greece still allows Americans to provide a negative COVID-19 test for entry, and tourism officials have said that will remain the case for now. Elsewhere, popular tourist destinations like Ireland, Portugal, Croatia, and others haven’t officially weighed in on any brewing changes.
The recent return of travel restrictions across Europe doesn’t mean upcoming trips are a no-go. But without proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19, odds are you won’t be getting into the country.
In most cases, a negative COVID-19 test alone is no longer enough.