France and Spain will no longer allow unvaccinated American travelers, joining the ranks of European countries tightening entry restrictions in recent weeks.
Both popular countries opened their borders to tourists this spring with pathways even for unvaccinated visitors. For months, France let in Americans with proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test. And there were no such requirements for Spain: All travelers needed was to fill out a brief health form and show a QR code at customs to enter the country.
But that all changed this week.
On Thursday, the French government downgraded the U.S. from “green” to “orange” on its stoplight system. That simple change means that beginning Sunday, Sept. 12, unvaccinated Americans are no longer allowed in France for nonessential travel, which includes tourism. Even on essential trips for work or other purposes, unvaccinated travelers will have to provide a negative COVID-19 test and quarantine for seven days.
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Spain has taken a similar approach, requiring proof of full vaccination from all American visitors as of Sept. 6. That's an even stronger stance than what the Spanish government laid out late last week, when officials initially announced they would begin requiring proof of vaccination, recovery from COVID-19, or a recent negative COVID-19 test for entry. Now, only a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccine card showing full vaccination will Americans into Spain.
Traveling as a family? Children under 12 – who are not currently authorized to get a COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. – can accompany their vaccinated parents into both Spain and France.
The tightening restrictions come weeks after the European Union called on countries to restrict American travelers, citing the explosion in COVID-19 cases in the states fueled by the fast-spreading Delta variant. But that guidance gave European countries a pathway to continue allowing fully vaccinated American tourists. And that's the route many countries are taking.
After allowing travelers with a negative COVID-19 test, Germany made vaccination mandatory for entry last month. Italy now requires both proof of vaccination and a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter the country.
Elsewhere, European countries have reacted by essentially banning even vaccinated Americans again. The Netherlands requires even vaccinated Americans to quarantine for at least five days upon arrival. Sweden has banned travelers from the U.S. altogether.
And the restrictions go beyond simply getting into the country. Both Italy and France now require either proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter restaurants, museums, and many other indoor venues.
No vaccine card? Spain and France are once again off-limits to Americans as countries across Europe tighten their entry requirements.
While much of Europe will remain open in the months ahead, the trend is clear: Being fully vaccinated will be the key to transatlantic travel for now.