Want to travel to Europe this summer? Here’s what you need to know

Apr 26, 2021

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The European Union is reportedly planning to reopen to fully vaccinated American tourists this summer. While details remain murky, it’s an encouraging sign for Americans who are eager to venture abroad and return to some of their favorite destinations in Europe.

Of course, it will be up to individual member nations to decide when to relax border restrictions, and some countries will welcome Americans sooner than others. Greece, for example, has already reopened to Americans who can present a valid vaccination certificate or a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival. And France could allow travelers from the U.S. as early as May.

But other countries might remain closed to visitors until late summer or even early fall, especially as cases surge in several regions worldwide and Europe continues to trail behind the U.S. in terms of residents who are fully vaccinated. Additionally, the U.S. State Department still recommends that U.S. citizens reconsider traveling abroad, which conflicts with what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said publicly about travel.

Still, travel is clearly beginning to reopen, and Americans are wondering whether they’ll be able to take a summer vacation to Europe this year. Since several European countries have indicated they’re ready for tourists again, here’s everything you need to know about traveling to Europe this summer.

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When will Europe reopen to Americans?

The Montmartre district in Paris. (Photo by Alexander Spatari/Getty Images)

According to a recent report in The New York Times, the European Union is expected to welcome vaccinated American tourists this summer.

“All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by E.M.A.,” said European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

The EU has not yet issued a formal plan, or announced a target date for reopening. But all three vaccines administered in the U.S. — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — have been approved by the E.M.A. (European Medicines Agency).

What’s open?

Some countries are already open to Americans, while others are expected to reopen soon.

France is expected to allow non-EU visitors, which includes Americans, to enter on June 9. And at this time, travelers from the U.S., EU and Schengen area are now permitted to enter Greece (though you’ll probably want to wait to visit until restaurants and attractions are actually open).

Other European countries not in the EU that have already eased border restrictions include Iceland, which is now open to vaccinated Americans and travelers who have recovered from COVID-19.

Entry requirements

(Photo by Tom Pfeiffer VolcanoDiscovery/Getty Images)

Details are scant, but we can look at the entry requirements for other countries in the EU to get a sense of what travelers might need to visit Europe this summer. And travelers who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 may find the process is more simple.

All travelers over the age of 5 entering Greece, for instance, must present a negative PCR test for entry. However, travelers who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 don’t need to provide a negative test if it’s been longer than 14 days since they received their final dose. Greece said last month that vaccinated travelers (and those with antibodies or negative COVID-19 tests) would be welcomed to visit the country.

Just remember that even if you can avoid testing in Europe, you’ll need a negative test to fly back to the U.S., regardless of whether you’ve been vaccinated or not. At this time, all travelers 2 and older flying to the U.S. from abroad must show a negative viral COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours of departure before being allowed to board their flights. Documented proof from a licensed healthcare provider of recovery from the virus within the past 90 days will also be accepted.

Vaccine passports are also expected to play a significant role in reopening. All eyes are on the EU’s upcoming Digital Green Certificate, which will allow citizens of EU member states to move freely around their country and travel abroad to other countries within the EU. It’s unclear if the certificate will be available to American citizens.

The Green Certificate will be available for free in digital (with QR code) or paper format. Non-EU member states, such as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, will also use the Green Certificate — but not the United Kingdom.

Bottom line

While several countries worldwide have recently reopened to U.S. travelers (or didn’t close at all), much of Europe has been off-limits to Americans. While there are few details at this time, and some precautions such as pre-travel testing may remain, reopening Europe to travelers from the U.S. is a big step in restarting the industry.

Featured photo by Emeric Fohlen/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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