The landscape of travel changed forever when COVID-19 entered the scene. Now, years later, we’re still dealing with the ongoing effects of the pandemic. Along with travel restrictions and ever-evolving entry requirements, travelers have to plan for plenty of unexpected changes.
Nowhere is this more evident than Europe, where individual countries have spent the last few years creating their own responses to the pandemic. This begs the question: Can Americans travel to Europe? Happily, many of these countries have reopened to tourism, but entry is dependent on a few different factors. Let’s take a look.
What do Americans need to enter Europe?
U.S. citizens can generally enter most European countries for business or tourism without a visa. If traveling within the Schengen zone, which comprises 26 countries, Americans can stay for up to 90 days within any 180 day period. For countries outside the Schengen zone, you’ll need to verify the individual entry requirements and apply for a visa, if needed.
Depending on the prevalence of COVID-19, you may also need to be vaccinated or have proof of a negative test in order to enter certain European countries.
European countries with no COVID restrictions
Many countries within Europe have completely dropped COVID entry requirements. Countries without any restrictions include:
European countries with some COVID restrictions
Countries that have maintained some form of COVID entry requirements are listed below, along with what you’ll need to enter. European countries with COVID restrictions include France, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.
U.S. travelers must provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for entry.
You can enter Luxembourg if you have been fully vaccinated, have a negative COVID test or proof of recovery or if you’re traveling for an essential reason.
U.S. travelers need to be vaccinated, have proof of recovery or provide a negative COVID test for entry to Malta.
Those who have been vaccinated or have proof of recovery can enter the Netherlands.
Travelers who want to enter Portugal must either be vaccinated or provide a negative COVID test.
You’ll either need proof of recovery or vaccination in order to enter Spain.
Do you need to be vaccinated to enter Europe?
As you can see from the list above, whether you’ll need to be vaccinated is dependent on the country you want to enter.
Be aware that some of these countries do have a time requirement when it comes to proof of vaccination.
Not only will a certain amount of days need to have passed after the second dose of your vaccine, some countries require that the vaccination itself be no older than nine months. If this is the case, you’ll also need proof of a booster shot to be considered fully vaccinated.
At the time of this writing, 26 European countries require no form of vaccination or COVID testing to gain entry. Instead, these countries have reverted to pre-COVID entry measures, which primarily include having a valid passport with room for stamps.
Can unvaccinated people travel to Europe?
Most countries within Europe will currently allow unvaccinated travelers to enter, though it’s always a good idea to keep your eye on entry requirements as they can change on a dime.
Depending on where you’re going, you may need to provide a negative COVID test or proof of recovery in order to enter the country. What the proof looks like can vary, so you’ll need to consult the country’s requirements to ensure you meet the regulations.
If you need to show proof of a negative COVID test, there are two different kinds that are commonly accepted for travel into the EU. You’ll want to check the individual requirements of the country to see which you can use:
A valid negative molecular test. These types of tests are generally either called a PCR or NAAT test. They often take a few days for results to arrive because they’re processed in a laboratory.
A valid negative rapid test. Accepted by fewer countries — or accepted within a tighter window than a molecular test — these antigen or TRAg rapid tests can provide results within minutes.
Americans returning to the U.S. from Europe
Since June 12, 2022, those traveling by air no longer need to provide a negative COVID test in order to enter the United States.
If you’re planning to travel to Europe
Much of Europe is open to Americans, including more than two dozen countries without any COVID restrictions at all. However, it’s important to double-check before traveling in case requirements change.
If you’re vaccinated, most countries are open to you as long as you can show proof of vaccination. You’ll want to be sure that you meet the definition for “fully vaccinated” — if enough time has passed since you received the jab, you may need a booster to fulfill these requirements.
Unvaccinated travelers, meanwhile, can still enter most countries with COVID restrictions provided they have a valid negative COVID test on hand.
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