However, unlike the rules imposed at the beginning of the pandemic, such as entry bans and travel restrictions, governments across EU and Schengen Zone countries have decided to change the approach to the virus, and thus facilitate their travel restrictions as part of efforts to prevent further damages, especially in the travel and tourism industry, which has been profoundly affected by the situation provoked by the virus, VisaGuide.World reports.
Previously, the World Health Organisation (WHO) called on the EU countries to keep their borders open, despite the increase in the number of infections caused by the virus.
Many countries worldwide have started considering the Coronavirus like the flu. Spain was the first EU country to suggest people start living with the virus while urging other countries to treat the virus as an endemic disease.
In addition, since February 1, the EU countries started to remove the restrictions which were more focused on the Coronavirus situation in travelers’ country of origin and impose restrictions that are based on the travelers’ health condition.
The entry rules in the EU and Schengen Zone countries differ from each other.
Here are the entry requirements that international travelers should follow when planning to enter any of the EU and Schengen Zone countries.
Authorities in Austria previously announced that they lifted the pre-entry test requirement for all travelers who have received a booster shot.
Still, the government clarified that persons who have completed their primary immunization but have not received the booster shot are required to complete a pre-travel clearance registration, present a vaccination certificate, and a negative result of the Coronavirus test.
Starting from February 18, authorities in Belgium will apply entry rules taking into account travelers’ vaccination and recovery status instead of the epidemiological situation in their country of origin.
The recent decision comes as part of efforts to ease the travel rules imposed to prevent another surge in the number of infections.
“The color code of the country of origin is no longer taken into account for incoming travelers. Persons who do not have their main residence in Belgium and who travel to our country from EU/Schengen countries or third countries, must from now on have a valid vaccination, test or recovery certificate,” the statement of the Belgian authorities reads.
Travelers from countries that belong to Bulgaria’s dark red category, which consists of territories that have recently reported high rates of COVID-19 infection, are still subject to strict entry rules.
Bulgarian Foreign Ministry announced that passengers from territories included in the dark red category are required to present a negative result of the COVID-19 PCR test, not older than 72 hours, together with the recovery certificate or vaccination certificate, which show that the traveler has been immunized with the single-shot or two-doses vaccine 270 days before their trip to Bulgaria.
Taking into account the data provided by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Czechia’s Ministry of Health recently announced that all European Union and Schengen Zone countries, except the Vatican City state, belong to the dark red list.
This means that travelers from the countries mentioned above are obliged to take a pre-entry COVID-19 test and fill in the arrival form. All travelers are subject to the testing requirement, even those who have completed their primer immunization process and those who have recovered from the virus.
The Croatian Tourist Board announced that travelers from other countries planning to visit the Balkan country would have to follow any of the requirements mentioned below:
- Present a negative result of the PCR test, not older than 72 hours, or negative result of antigen test not older than 24 hours
- Present a vaccination certificate
- Present a certificate that shows the traveler has taken the booster shot
- Proof of recovery from COVID and the first dose of vaccine of more than 11 days and less than 270 ago
- Undergo testing process upon arrival and follow quarantine rules until they receive the negative test result
Travelers who meet such entry conditions are permitted to visit Croatia.
Cyprus’ government previously announced that starting from March 1, all persons who have completed their immunization process against the virus as well as those who have recovered from the virus would be permitted to enter the country if their country of origin is considered epidemiologically safe.
Besides, travelers who have completed their immunization process and those who have recovered from the virus would not be required to follow self-isolation and testing requirements that their origin country applied, meaning that they would be able to enter the country by presenting the required documents, consequently the EU Digital Certificate, regardless of the category their country of origin belongs.
Authorities in Denmark facilitated the travel rules earlier this month, despite the high rates of COVID-19 infection.
The Danish Ministry of Health decided to remove several restrictions, including pre-entering testing requirements as well as the expansion of the number of vaccinates accepted as a valid proof of entry in this country.
In addition, earlier this month, Denmark’s government abolished all restrictions within the country imposed due to COVID-19, becoming the first EU country to take such a decision.
The Estonian government recently announced that it facilitated the travel rules for arrivals from other EU and Schengen Zone countries.
Authorities in Estonia announced that the country no longer obliges travelers to follow mandatory quarantine requirements if they have completed their immunization process against the virus, tested negative for the virus, or recovered from the disease, even if they come from countries that have reported high rates of COVD-19 infection.
The Nordic country also eased its entry rules amid the ongoing pandemic situation.
Since February 15, nationals from third countries have been exempted from the COVID-19 test result requirement upon their arrival in Finland.
Such a decision was confirmed by the country’s Ministry of Internal Security and Immigration, while the same stressed that such measures would be applied until March 13.
“The Border Guard does not require the certificates mentioned above as a condition for entry from Finnish citizens arriving from a third country, from foreigners permanently residing in Finland, or from persons whose entry is based on a necessary reason such as compelling family matters or other compelling personal reasons,” the press release explains.
Following the example of other European countries, authorities in France also eased their entry rules for internationals.
Earlier this month, authorities in France announced that all persons who have completed their immunization process against the virus, regardless of the country of origin they come from, are permitted to enter France without being obliged to undergo the COVID-19 testing process upon their arrival.
According to France’s Ministry of Interior, passengers who have been vaccinated against the virus will only be required to present a valid vaccination certificate.
Travelers who plan to enter Germany must follow the entry requirements after the country continues to keep in place restrictions for arrivals from a large number of countries.
According to the German Federal Foreign Office, all persons entering Germany are obliged to complete the digital entry registration. In addition, they will also be required to present a negative result of the Coronavirus test or proof of immunity and also follow mandatory quarantine requirements depending on their place of departure.
The Greek Aviation Authority (CAA) announced that arrivals from countries connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate gateway are allowed to enter the Hellenic Republic without being subject to testing requirements upon their arrival.
Such a decision means that all persons who have completed their immunization process against the virus coming from the EU Member States and the following 33 states are excluded from the pre-departure testing requirement upon their arrival:
San Marino, Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Vatican, Northern Macedonia, Agriculture, Switzerland, El Salvador, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Iceland, Israel, Liechtenstein, Lebanon, Morocco, Montenegro, Moldova, Monaco, Norway, New Zealand, Ukraine, Uruguay, Panama, Cape Verde, Serbia, Singapore, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, Tunisia, Faroe Islands, Taiwan.
Recently, Greece’s Minister of Tourism, Vassilis Kikilias, announced that starting from March 1, the country would start the tourist season.
Despite the increase in the number of COVID-19 infections, particularly the Omicron variant, authorities in Hungary decided not to tighten their entry restrictions for internationals.
In this regard, authorities in Hungary announced that they would extend the validity of the COVID-19 immunity document for all persons who have received two vaccine doses until May 1, following other EU countries’ practices.
Travelers interested in entering Iceland will be required to follow entry rules imposed to stop the spread of the virus, while the travelers should be vaccinated against the virus.
At present, there is no mandatory quarantine requirement for arrivals from other countries. However, travelers need to undergo a COVID-19 testing process before departing their home country and take a test two days after entering Iceland.
Travelers are also required to fill in the registration form upon their arrival.
Authorities in Italy have also announced that they plan to relax the entry rules in order to facilitate the travel process amid the ongoing pandemic situation.
In this regard, the Italian Health Minister, Roberto Speranza, stressed that the country facilitated the entry rules for passengers from European Union countries.
Authorities in Latvia continue to categorize other countries into green, orange, and red groups, taking into account the epidemiological situation in them.
The green list consists of countries considered safe in terms of the COVID-19 situation, while the orange and red groups include countries that have reported high rates of COVID-19 infection in the last two weeks.
Latvia’s government announced that all persons coming from countries included in the orange list who have not been vaccinated against the virus are obliged to follow testing and self-isolation rules upon their entry into the Baltic country.
Lithuania’s government also relaxed several entry restrictions imposed due to the Coronavirus.
Recently, Lithuanian authorities announced that they abolished the COVID-19 negative test requirement for travelers from the European Union and European Economic Area (EEA).
In addition, the Ministry of Health announced that third-country nationals and residents of third countries who obtain a valid EU Digital COVID-19 Vaccination certificate are also permitted to enter Lithuania without being obliged to follow additional entry requirements.
However, unvaccinated and unrecovered travelers will have to present a negative result of the Coronavirus test when planning to enter the Baltic State.
Authorities in Luxembourg have also followed the example of other European Union countries and have eased the travel rules for arrivals from other countries.
In addition, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel recently announced that it lifted the 23:00 curfew in bars and restaurants while at the same time loosening COVID-19 check rules, as reported by Luxembourg Times.
Authorities in Malta have also eased some of their restrictions imposed due to the Coronavirus and its new strains.
Recently, the Health Minister of Malta, Chris Fearne, stressed that the vaccination certificate no longer is required for access to bars, restaurants, and social clubs.
In order to welcome a more significant number of citizens from other countries, the Maltese authorities last month announced that the country recognized vaccines issued by Jordan and Maldives as valid proof of vaccination.
The Dutch authorities eased the entry rules on February 2 for all persons planning to travel to the Netherlands from territories highly affected by the spread of the virus.
Such a decision confirmed by the Ministry of Health means that travelers from other countries who have received a booster shot at least seven days before reaching the Dutch territory would not be required to follow the mandatory quarantine rule.
“From February 2, 2022, travelers with a booster shot are not required to be quarantined if the traveler received the booster shot at least seven days before the trip to the Netherlands,” the statement published by the Ministry of Health clarified.
The Dutch government announced that starting from February 25, the country would lift all national COVID-19 restrictions, despite the increase in the number of infections.
“The country will reopen,” Health Minister Ernst Kuipers pointed out during a press conference, the first such briefing since the beginning of the pandemic to take place without Prime Minister Mark Rutte, as reported by Politico.
The Nordic country abolished the testing requirement for all arrivals from other countries as part of efforts to make the travel process easier.
Authorities in Norway concluded that the travel restrictions imposed to contain the further spread of the virus had not helped prevent the spread of the virus, thus deciding to lift them.
In addition, Norway’s government also abolished all the preventive measures imposed to stop the spread of the virus within the country, including the compulsory face mask and self-isolation requirement.
The Ministry of Health and Care Services in Norway stressed that only persons who have symptoms would be required to get tested.
As per Poland, the country decided to prolong the quarantine rules for specific groups of people.
The current rules imposed by the Polish government oblige all travelers from EU and Schengen Zone countries, including Turkey, to follow mandatory ten-days quarantine requirements if they have not completed their immunization process or have not recovered from the virus.
However, arrivals from the countries mentioned above can skip the self-isolation requirement if they undergo a testing process 48 hours after crossing the border.
Authorities in Portugal announced that the country would abolish the negative COVID-19 test result requirement for arrivals from other countries.
Portugal’s government announced that a pre-entry test would no longer be required for passengers who hold a valid EU COVID-19 Certificate or any other valid proof that shows they have completed their immunization process.
Slovakia’s Ministry of the Interior earlier this month announced that the country introduced new changes to the entry rules.
The same revealed that since February 4, authorities in the country abolished the list of countries in which other territories are placed, taking into account the epidemiological situation in them.
Slovakia also shortened the quarantine period from ten to five days for arrivals from other countries.
Unvaccinated travelers from other countries planning to enter Slovenia are required to follow additional entry rules.
Authorities in Slovenia have clarified that persons who hold a negative result of the Coronavirus test, a valid vaccination certificate, or a recovery certificate are exempted from self-isolation rules.
Slovenian authorities also announced that they reduced the validity of COVID-19 test results and shortened the quarantine period.
The government of Spain decided to extend the entry rules for arrivals from EU and Schengen Zone countries due to the current pandemic situation.
At the same time, strict entry rules continue to apply for travelers from third countries.
Only arrivals from Saudi Arabia, China, South Korea, New Zealand, Indonesia, Rwanda, and Tawin are permitted to enter Spain for travel purposes.
Earlier this month, Spain’s government announced that it eased entry rules for arrivals from non-EU countries between the age of 12 and 17.
Sweden’s government lifted all the entry requirements imposed to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, permitting travelers from EU and Schengen Area countries to enter Sweden freely
Such a decision was confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice while stressing that regardless of their vaccination status, arrivals from territories mentioned above can enter Sweden without being required to undergo a pre-departure or post-arrival COVID-19 test.
“As part of the continuing work to phase out the infection control measures against COVID-19, the government today decided to lift all restrictions on entry to Sweden from the Nordic countries and other EU and EEA countries. The decision follows an assessment by the Public Health Agency of Sweden that the entry restrictions are no longer a proportionate infection control measure,” the statement reads while highlighting that such measures would be valid until March 31.
Authorities in Switzerland announced that the country plans to abolish the Swiss COVID-19 certificates requirement to tourists.
Such a decision means that travelers who enter the country would no longer be obliged to convert in their passports.
“The ‘Swiss’ COVID certificates, issued to tourists, for example, or after antibody or antigen rapid tests, would no longer be required. However, certificates recognized by the EU will continue to be issued. These are still required for international travel as long as other countries still have entry restrictions in place,” the statement of the Swiss authorities reads.
According to the figures provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO), France (21,127,104), the United Kingdom (18,348,033), Russia (14,480,596), Turkey (12,984,062), Germany (12,580, 343), Italy (12,134,451), and Spain (10,672,906) have reported the highest rates of COVID-19 infection, in Europe, since the start of the pandemic.