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Heads up: You still need a mask when traveling to these international destinations

Aug. 22, 2022
5 min read
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Heads up: You still need a mask when traveling to these international destinations
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, updated with new information.


As summer ends and the kids go back to school, you're likely looking ahead to traveling this fall.

Maybe you're heading abroad, after getting priced out of Europe this summer.

Since countries, including the U.S., have largely dropped COVID-19 restrictions, you might have gotten used to traveling without a face covering. However, there are a handful of international destinations, including Canada, that still require visitors to adhere to face mask protocols when traveling to and within the country.

If you are heading to Canada or another international destination on this list, remember to pack a mask for your flight (and possibly other forms of public transit).

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Countries with public transportation mask mandates

Masks are required on flights to many popular European destinations, including Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Earlier this month, German officials extended the country's current face mask mandate for public transit through at least April 2023; it requires passengers on all commercial flights, long-distance trains and coach trains to wear a medical-grade mask en route to, and within, the country. Acceptable masks include surgical masks and N95, KN95 and FFP-2 masks, according to the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Germany.

Travelers heading to Italy this fall should know that FP2/KN95 masks remain mandatory on all trains, ships and local public transportation, including buses and metros, through at least Sept. 30, per the U.S. Embassy in Italy.

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While most mask mandates in Portugal have been lifted, masks are still required on public transportation, including flights, per the U.S. Embassy in Portugal, and TAP Airlines, the country's national carrier, states that all passengers over age 6 must wear a mask on TAP flights.

(Screenshot from TAP)

Spain and Greece also require masks on public transit, though in Greece, masks are limited to certain forms of public transit. As of Aug. 3, masks are not required on planes or intercity public transport throughout Greece; they are still required on taxis and urban public transport, specifically the metro, electric railway, buses, trolleybuses, trams and ferries.

Outside of Europe, mask rules apply to passengers on domestic and international flights to a handful of other countries, including Canada. Canada continues to be among those with the strictest pandemic-related protocols currently enforced.

As of mid-August, entrance into Canada remains restricted to only travelers who have received full COVID-19 vaccination. Partially vaccinated or unvaccinated travelers, including those from the U.S., are barred from entering.

Read more: A country-by-country guide to where you can travel with no COVID-19 test and/or vaccine required

In late July, Canada resumed mandatory COVID-19 testing for arriving passengers, which means that all travelers (regardless of vaccination status) could be randomly selected for in-person or virtual testing off-site, upon entering the country. This applies to flights arriving at Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ), Vancouver International Airport (YVR), Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL) and Calgary International Airport (YYC). The same process applies to travelers who enter through land borders.

Travelers wait to board their flights on Porter Airlines at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

Plus, face coverings remain mandatory for all passengers traveling on trains and planes to Canada.

Outside of Canada and Europe, Australia and New Zealand both say passengers must wear masks on public transit, including on flights and at the airport.

"Your face mask needs to cover your mouth and nose, fit securely and must be worn unless you're under 12 years of age or have a medical exemption," according to Australian airline Qantas, the country's major carrier. "A scarf or bandana is not considered a face mask."

If you are heading to Asia, expect to wear a mask on flights and public transit throughout most countries. This includes Singapore, Japan and South Korea, where the practice of wearing masks was standard even before COVID-19.

No U.S. state currently has a statewide mask mandate in place. However, travelers coming to the U.S. should know that both New York City and Los Angeles still have blanket public transit mask mandates in place; this covers all forms of public transit, from subway systems to ride-hailing vehicles to airports.

In New York, masks are required on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority system (subway and commuter rail trains, buses) as well as taxis, Ubers and Lyfts; the city’s two airports, John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and LaGuardia Airport (LGA), also require masks.

In LA, similar rules apply to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority system (bus terminals, train and subway stations, trains, subway rails and buses), taxis and ride-hailing services; the same goes for Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Bottom line

Even if you are not heading to one of the countries on the list, we suggest bringing a few face masks just in case, since country rules related to COVID-19 change quickly.

Plus, individual businesses — including restaurants, shops, schools, sports arenas, bars, nightclubs and gyms — can ask patrons to wear masks if they so choose. Travel with a mask just in case.

Related: Updated: A country-by-country guide to coronavirus reopenings

Featured image by NurPhoto via Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
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10XEarn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
5XEarn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
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    Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel

    Earn 10,000 Bonus Points
  • Annual Fee

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    Fair/Good

Why We Chose It

The revamped Wander Card from Credit One Bank earns cardmembers up to 10 points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases. With no foreign transaction fees, the card is also great for international travel. However, points earned from this card can only be used at a fixed value, so it may not be the best option for those striving to get maximum value from their rewards.

Pros

  • This card has no foreign transaction fees and earns up to 10 points per dollar on travel purchases through the Credit One Bank travel partner site.

Cons

  • While cardholders can earn a significant amount of points on travel purchases, there isn't any way to redeem points from the Wander Card for maximum value (beyond 1 cent per point).
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees