Covid entry rules for European countries change on a daily basis, so it is not recommended to travel anywhere without first checking the local health authorities’ website. We attempted to compile the existing European set of rules at this time, knowing that they could change as soon as next week.
Thousands of people have been forced to cancel their Christmas travel plans due to the worldwide spread of the Omicron virus, and in particular, due to travel restrictions imposed by governments in an attempt to halt the spread of the new COVID-19 virus variant.
Europe, as one of the world’s most affected regions by the virus, has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, in addition to the spread of the new variant across the continent.
Since late November, when the Omicron variant was first reported, European Union Member States have imposed entry bans on southern African countries, including the United Kingdom and other EU countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands.
Other countries have expanded their red lists, requiring more travelers to be quarantined upon arrival.
The most common measure taken by the EU and Schengen Area countries to combat the virus’s spread has been additional testing requirements, primarily pre-departure, for incoming travelers. However, when it comes to COVID-19 testing, each member state has its own set of rules and requirements, as explained below.
Covid entry rules – Austria
Since December 20, all travelers eligible to enter Austria have been required to present negative results of a pre-departure PCR test. Only those who have received a COVID-19 booster shot are exempt.
“On December 20, new, stricter entry requirements went into effect.” The “2-G” rule (proof of vaccination/recovery) is currently in effect for entry into Austria. In addition, a negative PCR test or proof of a booster jab are required, according to the official Austrian travel website.
The PCR test should be performed within 48 hours of arriving in Austria. Children under the age of 12, are exempt from the requirement.
BioNTech/Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Covishield, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Sinovac, and Sinopharm are among the vaccines approved for use in Austria. The travelers must have received at least two doses of the vaccine, with the final dose taken within the last 270 days. Those who have received a booster dose are exempt from the on-arrival PCR test.
Once in Austria, visitors must follow the same rules as Austrian citizens. This means that the 2G rule also applies to them.
According to the 2G rule, proof of vaccination or recovery is required to enter hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, leisure centres, gyms, cinemas, theaters, markets, ski lifts/cable cars, and hairdressers. It is not possible to enter these places with only a COVID-19 test.
Travelers should be aware that the Covishield, Sinopharm, and Sinovac vaccines are only accepted for entry into Austria and not the above-mentioned facilities.
Covid entry rules – Denmark
Denmark’s authorities have also decided to impose stricter testing entry requirements for all visitors, including EU nationals. Travellers, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to present negative results of a PCR test performed 72 hours prior to arrival or a rapid test performed 48 hours prior to arrival.
“The requirement also applies to vaccinated persons, but not to previously infected people,” the Danish Ministry of Health notes in a press release, making Denmark the first EU country to exempt only recovered individuals from such a requirement, rather than those who have been vaccinated.
All travelers who are Danish residents are also exempt from the pre-departure testing requirement. However, the same must be tested within 24 hours of arrival in the country.
The government has also removed the requirement to test for COVID-19 upon arrival in Denmark for passengers arriving from Doha’s Hamad International Airport (DOH) and Istanbul’s Istanbul Airport (IST), and this rule has been in effect since December 27.
South Africans, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Malawi, and Zambians will no longer be required to quarantine upon arrival in Denmark.
Covid entry rules – Finland
Since December 21, Finland has also required all visitors from countries outside the EU/Schengen Area to present a negative COVID-19 test result. As a result, only third-country visitors with a vaccination certificate and negative COVID-19 test results are permitted to enter Finland.
Alternatively, beginning December 28, all travelers entering Finland from EU/EEA countries must present a vaccination or recovery certificate as well as a negative COVID-19 test result. To ensure that all travelers comply with the requirement, Finland will implement internal border controls with Schengen Area countries beginning on the same date.
“Because of the rapid spread of the new coronavirus variant, compensatory measures under the Communicable Diseases Act alone are insufficient to safeguard the carrying capacity of health care,” the government stated in justification for its decision.
The government has confirmed that existing border restrictions will be extended until January 12, 2022. In addition, new entry restrictions will be imposed.
Covid entry rules – Greece
The obligation to test before entering the country was imposed by Greek authorities on December 19, and it is set to remain in effect until January 1, 2022.
“Travellers arriving in Greece, regardless of nationality, vaccination status, or proof of recovery, must present a negative molecular test result (PCR) for Covid-19 performed up to 72 hours before the scheduled arrival, or a negative Rapid Antigen test result for Covid-19 performed up to 24 hours before the scheduled arrival,” Greek authorities explained.
At the same time, upon arrival in Greece, all visitors may be subjected to random testing. Those who are chosen for testing must go through it. If they refuse, the authorities reserve the right to deny them entry into the country.
Covid entry rules – Italy
In addition to the other requirements, such as the requirement to show proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19, Italy requires all visitors to test for COVID-19 before entering its territory.
“Those who come from EU countries but are not vaccinated will not only have to show a negative swab in order to visit Italy, but they will also have to be quarantined.” “Those who have been immunized will also be required to show a negative swab result,” Italian authorities announced on December 14.
On the proposal of President Mario Draghi and Minister of Health Roberto Speranza, the Council of Ministers approved a decree-law that extends the national state of emergency and measures to contain the COVID-19 epidemic until March 31, 2022.
For the next three months, unvaccinated visitors will be barred from entering indoor restaurants, cinemas, discos, and stadiums.
Covid entry rules – Belgium
Travelers to Belgium are subject to testing rules based on the color code of their country of residence.
Travelers from the green category, which includes the majority of EU/Schengen countries as well as Bahrain, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kuwait, Macau, New Zealand, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Taiwan, are exempt from any testing requirements upon arrival in Belgium.
Travelers from the red EU and Schengen countries, on the other hand, are required to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or negative COVID-19 test results upon arrival. The latter will also be required to retest on the seventh day.
Those who arrive at Belgium’s ports of entry with none of the above three documents will be subjected to testing on their first or second day in the country. On the seventh day, they will also be tested again.
Travelers from red third countries who have a vaccination certificate are required to test on the first and seventh days after arrival. Those who have not been immunized must be quarantined for ten days and tested for COVID-10 on the first and seventh days. Those who receive a negative result for the second time may be released from quarantine early.
Covid entry rules – Ireland
Since December 5, Ireland has required visitors to present COVID-19 test results.
While those who have been vaccinated and recovered can show either a PCR test taken within 72 hours or an antigen test taken within 48 hours upon arrival, those who have not been vaccinated or recovered cannot show an antigen test.
“Passengers who do not have proof of vaccination or recovery must show a negative PCR test result obtained within 72 hours of arrival,” the Irish authorities said.
Furthermore, vaccinated and recovered travelers with negative Rapid Antigen Test results are permitted to enter the country only if the test is on the common EU rapid antigen test list and is performed by a health professional or skilled testing personnel.
Passengers arriving in Ireland without a negative test result will be quarantined and required to take a PCR test within 36 hours of arrival. A subsequent negative / not detected test may allow the passenger to be released from the quarantine. If no PCR test is performed, the passenger must remain in home quarantine for ten days after arrival, according to the Ministry.
Covid entry rules – France
Since December 4, France has required visitors from third countries to be tested for COVID-19 before entering the country, including those who have been vaccinated and recovered. The test must be completed 48 hours prior to arrival. Only PCR tests will be accepted, which means that anyone with a negative rapid antigen test or any other test will be denied entry into France.
In France, travelers under the age of 12 are exempt from the pre-entry testing requirement.
Regarding arrivals from EU countries, French authorities have announced that all nationals of the EU and Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, the Vatican City State, and Switzerland will be able to enter France without restriction as long as they have a valid vaccination or recovery certificate.
EU visitors who do not have either of the two certificates – a vaccination or a recovery certificate – must present a negative COVID-19 test result obtained 24 hours before arrival in order to enter France.
Third-country nationals should also be aware that they may be subjected to additional testing upon arrival in France.
Due to the discovery of the Omicron variant, France has already banned all flights from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, and Eswatini. This means that visitors from these areas will be unable to visit France. Only French nationals and residents are allowed to return to France.
To prevent the spread of the new variant, anyone returning to France after visiting one of the Omicron-affected areas must present either a PCR test taken within 48 hours or a rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours before entry.
Covid entry rules – Netherlands
Two and a half weeks after France, the Netherlands has decided to impose the same requirement on third-country visitors. Since December 22, anyone entering Dutch territory from a third country must present a certificate proving COVID-19 negative test results.
All travelers over the age of 12, including those who have been vaccinated and recovered, are subject to the requirement.
“This must be an NAAT/PCR test with a sample taken no more than 48 hours before departure or an antigen test with a sample taken no more than 24 hours before departure,” the Dutch authorities explain.
Furthermore, arrivals with a vaccination or recovery certificate entering the Netherlands from high-risk areas must be quarantined for ten days upon arrival, with the option to end the isolation time on the fifth day if a negative test result is presented.
You can find a list of high-risk countries here.
Covid entry rules – Czech Republic
Beginning Monday, December 27, the Czech Republic will also make pre-departure COVID-19 testing mandatory for all third-country visitors.
Beginning December 27, all visitors from other countries, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to undergo a COVID-19 PCR test upon arrival in the Czech Republic, according to the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
This decision is in response to the COVID-19 Omicron variant and follows preventive measures taken by the Ministry of Health to address the current epidemiological situation.
“The conditions for returning to the Czech Republic for citizens of the Czech Republic, citizens of the EU, and citizens of third countries with temporary or permanent residence in the Czech Republic will remain the same as before,” the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in announcing the decision.
Czech authorities have used a color-coded scheme for different countries, with green indicating the safest and dark red indicating the most dangerous. The Vatican City State, in Europe and Australia, Argentina, Bahrain, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Korea, Canada, Kuwait, Qatar, Macao, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, Peru, Rwanda, United Arab Emirates, Republic of Uruguay, and Taiwan are currently on the green list.
Bulgaria, Malta, Italy, Finland, and Sweden are presently on the red list of countries considered highly affected by the spread of the Coronavirus.
Countries that are severely impacted by the spread of the Coronavirus are currently classified as dark red.
The following territories are currently included in the dark red category: Austria, Andorra, Belgium, Denmark, Croatia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, France, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Cyprus, Iceland, Monaco, Ireland, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Poland, Madeira, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, and Switzerland.
Covid entry rules – Sweden
Following a request from the Public Health Agency, the Swedish government has implemented a new testing protocol for all travelers, regardless of vaccination status or country of origin.
According to a press release issued recently by the Swedish Office, the decision took effect on December 28 and applies to all unvaccinated and vaccinated/recovered EU/EEA travelers over the age of 12. This means that all arrivals must have a negative COVID-19 test done within 24 hours of arriving in Sweden.
These are the most recent regulations published in Europe. Not all countries are mentioned here because it is expected that the new set of rules will be announced any day in many of them (Portugal, Norway, Germany, and others), as the current rules in place are almost a month old and do not reflect the current situation in Europe.
The list is compiled using news from the Schengen Visa Info portal and is only intended to serve as a guide. Before making any travel plans, it is recommended that you consult the local health authority website or an embassy.