What are the COVID entry rules for travellers to European countries?

World Sunday 27/June/2021 09:19 AM
By: DW
What are the COVID entry rules for travellers to European countries?
Restaurants are beginning to open to customers again

Berlin: Summer, sun, surf, sandy beaches, and lots of culture — vacationing in Europe is once again a possibility. Tourists from Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, among others, can already travel to Europe, and since June 20, US citizens have also been able to do so again. As of July 1, the restrictions will be lifted for other countries jointly selected by EU member states. Tourism in Europe is picking up again. Here is an overview of the most important information:

The European Union

As coronavirus infection numbers continue to fall across Europe, many countries are lifting lockdowns and easing travel and entry requirements.

An overview of EU travel measures, including information on the EU Digital COVID Certificate, is available via the European Commission website.

Detailed information regarding quarantine rules, testing requirements and more in the EU's 27 member states — along with non-EU Schengen countries Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Iceland — can be accessed through the Reopen EU platform. You can also download the Reopen EU smartphone app for up-to-date information on the go.

Please note that every member state maintains its own rules for granting entry to third country travellers already within the EU or Schengen zone. Member states may require a negative COVID test upon arrival, or mandate a quarantine period after entry. In addition, EU countries have implemented a wide variety of social distancing rules, curfews and mask-wearing rules.

The European Union COVID traffic light system

The EU has introduced a traffic light system for a better overview of the epidemiological situation in individual member states. Three colors — red, orange and green — denote high-, medium- and low-risk areas in the bloc. Grey regions signify areas where insufficient data is available.

Please note: The information listed here is not exhaustive, serves as a reference only and is subject to change at any time. All travelers to and within Europe, the EU and the Schengen area are strongly advised to consult the official guidance and regulations of local, state and national authorities of the relevant countries.

EU digital COVID certificate

To ease EU travel, European lawmakers approved a digital COVID certificate that will be rolled out across the entire bloc. It shows that individuals have either been fully vaccinated, tested negative for the virus, or recovered from the disease. The document will be issued by test centers and health authorities, and become available in all EU member states by July 1, 2021.

Europe's 5 most-visited countries: Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the UK

Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom are among the world's 10 most-visited countries, according to the UN World Tourism Organization. Here is what you need to know, should you want to travel to these countries.


Across Germany, coronavirus infections have been falling drastically, dropping to a mere nine cases per 100,000 residents within seven days on average. All travelers to Germany must present either a negative test result, proof of vaccination, or documentation proving recovery from COVID prior to departure. Authorities accept PCR, LAMP, TMA and antigen tests.

Those arriving from designated risk areas, high incidence regions, and territories marked by concerning virus variants must meet additional criteria. Before traveling to Germany, individuals must register digitally. Arrivals from risk areas must quarantine for 10 days, but can cease self-isolating if they produce a negative test result. Individuals from high-incidence regions must also quarantine for 10 days, but can stop isolating if they can produce a negative test result five days after arrival.

Only German nationals and individuals with German residency permits are permitted to enter the country from coronavirus variant regions. They must quarantine for 14 days without exception.

In Germany, certain safety precautions continue to apply, such as hygiene rules, keeping a minimum distance of 1.5 meters (5 ft) from others, and wearing a surgical face mask in enclosed, publicly accessible areas and on public transport.


Fancy a jaunt to France, or an extended stay, even? Individuals wishing to visit the country from an EU member state must present a negative PCR or antigenic test result that is no more than 72 hours old. They must also provide a declaration stating they have no COVID-19 symptoms. Alternatively, individuals may present proof of vaccination, or recovery from COVID-19, that cannot be older than six months.

French public life is gradually returning to normality. Museums, theaters, cinemas and tourist attractions have reopened to the public, though hygiene and social distancing rules remain in place. The country's nighttime curfew, introduced in October 2020, was lifted on June 20. It is no longer mandatory to wear masks in public. Covering one's mouth and nose, however, is still obligatory when indoors, and when travelling on public transport.


Itching to visit Italy, the country famed for its food and rich history? No problem, if you're from an EU country or the Schengen zone. Arrivals must present a passenger locator form and proof of either full vaccination, recovery from COVID-19, or a negative PCR or antigenic test result from the past 48 hours. For further details, please visit the Italian National Tourist Board website.

Social distancing and hygiene rules vary by Italian region and respective epidemiological situation. Authorities have classified the country into four color-coded zones — ranging from white, yellow, orange to red — in accordance with the local coronavirus infection risk. Currently, much of Italy — apart from the Aosta Valley — falls into the white, low-risk zone. Here, ordinary life has almost returned to lively pre-pandemic times.

Bars, restaurants and other establishments are open, with outdoor and indoor seating allowed. Swimming pools have reopened, as have gyms, spas and amusement parks. A nighttime curfew was lifted on June 21. It still remains mandatory, however, to wear masks and socially distance in public. But the government is considering scrapping obligatory mask-wearing by late June, provided coronavirus infections continue falling.

Fully vaccinated individuals, or those who have tested negative for the virus, enjoy few advantages in the country. Italy's autonomous province of South Tyrol is a notable exception. 


While the coronavirus situation has stabilized across Spain, the country is nevertheless recording the second-highest number of cases per capita out of all EU countries. Regions like Andalusia and Catalonia are reporting particularly high infection rates.

Still, visitors eager to get their fix of Spanish tapas and sunshine are in luck, as the country reopened its borders to tourists on June 7. Individuals from most EU states must show either a certificate of vaccination, recovery from COVID-19, or negative PCR or antigen test — issued within 48 hours prior to arrival — to be granted entry. Non-essential travel from Brazil, India and South America, meanwhile, is still banned.

Some restrictions on ordinary life are being lifted, though these vary by region. The Madrid area, for example, requires restaurants to close by 1 a.m., and indoor seating is capped at 50%. Night clubs may open, though using the dance floor is only permitted outdoors. Spain's northeastern Catalonia region, too, has instituted a maximum capacity for many venues and establishments.

In early June, Spain's top court annulled the Balearic Island night-time curfew. Most venues and establishments here may not exceed 50% capacity, either.

Across the entire country, masks must still be worn in public spaces and on public transport. They will no longer be mandatory outdoors from June 26.

United Kingdom

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have adopted a traffic light system similar to the EU model, categorizing countries into high-, medium- and low-risk zones. Entry requirements and quarantine rules vary, depending on this classification.

Individuals from red-listed countries and territories — currently including Brazil, India and South Africa — may only enter if they are UK or Irish nationals, or hold residency rights in the UK. In this case, they must take a COVID test prior to arrival, then self-isolate for 10 days in a quarantine hotel at their own expense.

Individuals from amber-listed countries and territories, which include many EU member states such as France and Germany, are required to take a COVID test prior to arrival, and two further tests on day two and eight after entry. Travelers must cover the costs for these tests. They are also required to quarantine at home, or their temporary residence, for 10 days.

All travellers entering the UK, regardless of departure country or nationality, must complete a passenger locator form.

Entering the United Kingdom from one of the few green-listed countries or territories is relatively simple, necessitating only a pre-departure COVID test, and day two COVID test after arrival. However, no EU member states are currently on this list, meaning non-essential travel to the bloc is discouraged.

The UK hospitality sector has been allowed to reopen, likewise, culture venues like museums and theatres . A full easing of restrictions has, however, been postponed due to a surge in SARS-CoV-2 delta cases, the virus variant first detected in India.