- European countries could accept fully vaccinated passengers from the United States this summer.
- Americans will have to prove that they took their photos, but specific rules may vary by country.
- Greece and Iceland, among the few countries already open to tourists from the United States, accept CDC cards.
- See more stories on the Insider business page.
Hold on to your vaccination cards: Americans who have been fully immunized may be allowed to travel to Europe this summer, the European Commission’s president recently told The New York Times.
Although the European Union has not yet announced formal entry requirements for its 27 member states, Americans are likely to need government-issued vaccine certificates. So far, neither EU nor US officials have specified whether people will have to show a white vaccination card issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other documentation.
Lisa Lee, a public health expert at Virginia Tech, said European countries are likely to have different rules for U.S. travelers.
“Some said they would only accept electronic ones [vaccine records] so it can be checked, “Lee told Insider.”
In an interview with Ouest France, French President Emmanuel Macron said foreign tourists could visit France with a “health card” from June 9th. However, Macron did not say what this omission would look like. Meanwhile, the Spanish tourism minister said this week that the country is ready to release passengers back in June – as long as visitors show proof that they have been vaccinated, recently tested negative for coronavirus or recently recovered from COVID-19. And British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested earlier this month that Britons start traveling abroad on May 17.
“One thing is clear: All 27 Member States will unconditionally accept all those who have been vaccinated with EMA-approved vaccines,” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, told The Times, citing the European Medicines Agency. . The EMA has authorized all three vaccines used in the United States: Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
Several European countries – including Greece and Iceland – already allow visitors from the United States. Their policies could hint at what to expect from other nations moving forward.
The United States still does not recommend travel to Europe
Currently, the CDC recommends avoiding all international travel to European countries except Iceland. (The agency says Americans can only travel there for basic visits.) Similarly, the United States denies access to visitors from the EU or the United Kingdom unless they are U.S. citizens.
The Biden administration has not said whether it will remove these restrictions in the near future, but travel and aviation groups are urging the US government to open its borders to more countries, with testing requirements in place.
For now, the United States is also requiring fully vaccinated Americans to take a negative test before re-entering the country.
Lee said the policy helps protect the population from highly transmissible variants of the coronavirus, which are more common in other countries and may avoid protection from vaccines.
“These vaccines are incredibly effective, but they’re not 100% – and they’re certainly not 100% or as effective against strains we don’t yet know that can develop through transmission, so it’s still a good time to be a little cautious, “she said.
Greece and Iceland accept CDC cards as proof of vaccination
From April 19, Greece welcomes American travelers with a few reservations: Visitors are invited to fill out a locator form at least one day before entering or leaving the country. Americans must also provide proof that they have been fully vaccinated – a CDC card is sufficient – or submit a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival.
Travelers in the United States do not need quarantine under this policy, a change that came with the new rule. Before that, Americans entering Greece had to isolate themselves for a week. If a person receives a positive result on arrival, they will be transported to a hotel, where the Greek authorities will confirm the test results and ask them to stay inside for 10 days. They can then be released after a negative PCR test.
Travelers to the United States in Iceland can also avoid the country’s mandatory quarantine by presenting a CDC card showing that they have been fully vaccinated. Alternatively, a person can provide evidence that they have already had COVID-19 – either by a positive PCR result or an antibody test.
But those going to Iceland still have to take a new test for COVID-19 on arrival, then wait at their accommodation until the results return (which can take up to 24 hours). Hotels in Iceland may also want to see your CDC vaccination card.
Croatia, Georgia and Montenegro also do not require US passengers to be quarantined if they show proof of vaccination.
Aside from travel requirements, international travel carries risks
The fact that a country receives American passengers does not mean that the visit is low risk. For Americans trying to decide whether to travel or where to go, Lee advised fully vaccinated people to consider two key indicators: low transmission rates and the number of cases decreasing with each passing day.
“If you look at Portugal, for example, the frequency is much lower than in Spain and they are right next to each other,” Lee said.
On average, Spain records nearly 180 daily cases per 1 million people, while Portugal records about 45 daily cases per 1 million people. The CDC rated low transmission as less than 5 cumulative new cases per 100,000 people in the previous 28 days, and moderate transmission as less than 50 cumulative new cases per 100,000 people over 28 days.
If you want to reduce the risk of infection, choose less crowded places where you are unlikely to encounter people who have not been vaccinated. Also give up big events such as concerts or football matches.
“If you’re planning a trip to the countryside, that’s a very different calculation than if you’re planning a trip to the middle of a busy city,” Lee said.
Of course, outbreaks can also change course quickly, so a country that looks safe now may have high transmission rates after three months.
“Check the requirements often, until the date of departure, as each country’s policies will change in response to the way the epidemic develops,” Lee said.
The Skyscanner website offers real-time updates on countries’ travel restrictions and quarantine requirements. Be sure to prepare the necessary documentation for each country you plan to visit.
“You don’t want to go from one place to another and find, ‘Oops, they need this sheet of paper or this software, and I don’t have that,'” Lee said.