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UPDATE: What rules do European countries have for travellers from the UK?

The UK government has announced that from July 19th vaccinated holidaymakers from England no longer have to quarantine when returning from countries in Europe. But that doesn't necessarily mean Europe is open for British tourists. Here's a rundown on the rules different countries have in place.

UPDATE: What rules do European countries have for travellers from the UK?
What rules do European countries have in place for travel from the UK? (Photo by Piero Cruciatti / AFP)

What is the latest announcement from the UK?

On Thursday July 8th the UK government announced that holidaymakers from England, specifically those who were vaccinated in the UK’s National Health Service, no longer have to quarantine on return from amber list countries if they are fully vaccinated.

The rule change will kick in on July 19th and could effectively open up tourism from England to Europe (European countries were all classed as amber as of July 8th) for fully vaccinated travellers. It was not clear whether Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would follow the lead and apply the same measure.

Travellers would still need to take a PCR test two days after returning to England. Full vaccination is classed by the UK as 14 days after the final dose.

Under 18s do not have to quarantine.

Does this also cover Brits living in Europe?

No. The rule change only covers those vaccinated under the NHS. So most Britons living abroad and indeed other foreign nationals who travel to the UK from amber countries would still be subject to quarantine and testing rules.

That means for the moment anyone travelling to the UK has to quarantine for 10 days and take PCR tests on day two and day eight.

However things could change. The UK’s Transport Minister Grant Shapps is expected to make a further announcement later this month on whether fully vaccinated travellers who were inoculated in certain countries, such as EU member states or the US can also skip quarantine.

The EU has the UK have been negotiating over the mutual recognition of Covid health passes, which would allow those vaccinated against Covid-19, those who have recovered or are able to show a recent negative test to skip quarantine and testing requirements.

Of course the rapid spread of the Delta variant in the UK might complicate those negotiations and force EU countries to impose new restrictions on UK travellers. So while the UK government has opened a way for tourism it doesn’t necessarily mean Europe is open for tourists from the UK

What rules are in place for UK travellers heading to Europe?

When the UK variant was detected last December, EU countries took a coordinated approach in an attempt to slow the spread, with the Italian health minister saying travel restrictions were needed while more studies on the new strain were carried out.

But this time, countries’ responses to the Delta strain, which was first identified in India, have varied much more.

France has placed the UK on the orange list of its traffic light travel system, which differentiates between vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers.

Vaccinated travellers from the UK can come to France for any reason including tourism and do not need to quarantine. They do, however need a negative Covid test, either a PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours or an antigen test taken within the previous 48 hours. Home test kits are not accepted.

Unvaccinated travellers are mostly not allowed to travel to France, only travel for essential reasons and for French citizens or residents is allowed – find the full list of reasons HERE. They need a negative Covid test to enter and must quarantine for 7 days on arrival, although this can be done at home.

All travellers need to fill in a declaration stating that they have no Covid symptoms and have not been in contact with a Covid patient in the past 14 days? You can find the form HERE. 

READ ALSO How does France’s traffic light travel system work?

Germany classified the UK as a ‘virus variant area of concern’ in May and closed its borders to travellers from Britain over concerns about the Delta variant.

But on July 7th, Germany eased travel rules for the UK – along with four other countries where the Delta variant of Covid is widespread. The UK is now in the the ‘high incidence’ risk category. 

People who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 coming from high incidence areas like the UK do not have to quarantine on arrival. They can also show their proof of vaccination/recovery before boarding a flight to Germany instead of a negative Covid test. 

People coming from high incidence areas who aren’t vaccinated have to show a negative Covid test before departure to Germany, and quarantine for 10 days on arrival with the option to end it after five days with a negative Covid test. 

Everyone has to log proof of test, vaccination or record on Germany’s entry registration portal before travel.

The German government still warns against travel to high incidence areas, but there are no bans in place. 

READ MORE: Germany’s new travel rules for the UK, Portugal and India

Austria has ended its ban on direct flights from the UK as of June 21st, however entry is limited to Austrian or European residents or citizens. In late June, Austria extended its ban on British arrivals until August 31st. More information is available here

On July 2nd, the rules for UK travellers heading to Spain changed, requiring them to show either a negative Covid-19 test or a vaccination certificate. 

An update from the Spanish Embassy in London was released on July 5th adding that Spanish and EU travellers and their families, as well as British residents in Spain could now enter Spain with an antigen test instead of the negative PCR, LAMP or TMA tests. 

However, for British and other third-country citizens coming from the UK who are residents in the UK, antigen tests are not accepted. 

Throughout June, travellers from the UK were able to enter Spain without the need to present a negative test or vaccination certificate. 

READ MORE: Everything Brits need to know about travel to Spain under new rules in July 2021

Sweden has no specific guidance for travellers from the UK, but they are currently subject to an entry ban that applies to all non-EU countries. This means people can only enter Sweden from the UK if they meet two conditions: they must belong to a category exempt from the entry ban (including Swedish residents, EU citizens, and people travelling for essential reasons) and they also need to show a negative Covid-19 test no older than 48 hours (although there is a different list of exemptions from the test requirement, including Swedish residents).

Switzerland on June 25th allowed UK arrivals after a ban which lasted several months. Anyone arriving from the UK will need to have been vaccinated (within the past 12 months) or have recovered from the virus within the past six months and be able to prove it

There are no obligations to quarantine or even to take a test for UK arrivals who have been vaccinated or recovered. More information is available here

Norway is currently only allowing residents, citizens and the close family and partners of residents and citizens to enter from the UK. 

All arrivals from the UK will be required to quarantine for at least seven days somewhere with a private bedroom and bathroom. If they return a negative PCR test after day seven, they will be released quarantine.

Travellers who have been fully vaccinated or have had Covid-19 in Norway and are able to prove so via Norway’s Covid certificate will be able to skip quarantine. Those with only one dose will have to quarantine for three days before testing out of quarantine. 

Residents returning to Norway from the UK will need to provide some form of proof that they lived in Norway before their departure, such as a rental contract.

Travellers returning to Norway, including those from the UK, will have to present a negative test taken within 24 hours of their departure flight. This can be either a PCR test or a rapid antigen test. Travellers also need to fill out a registration form before their departure and take a test at the airport when they arrive in Norway.

Partners of Norwegian residents and citizens wishing to travel to Norway will need to complete a free application with the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration prior to travelling. 

Fully vaccinated travellers with a Norwegian Covid certificate won’t be required to register, or take the Covid-19 tests. 

Italy reinstated a mandatory quarantine and testing for UK arrivals from June 21st amid concern about the spread of the Delta variant.

READ ALSO: How should travellers from the UK quarantine in Italy?

Travel into Italy from the UK is still allowed for any reason. However, anyone who has been on British territory in the 14 days before arrival in Italy must quarantine for five days on arrival, regardless of nationality, and take a second coronavirus test at the end of the isolation period.

Anyone found not to be following these rules could face hefty fines, including up to €1000 for breaking quarantine.

Member comments

  1. I scoured this article to see if it would say anything about Denmark but it didn’t, which surprises me for an English language newspaper in Denmark.

  2. Over the past week we have crossed the German, Swiss, French, and Italian borders in both directions. Despite having the appropriate documentations we have not been stopped or checked anywhere. We used main border crossings.

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TRAVEL NEWS

REVEALED: Countries fear non-EU travellers face delays under new EES border checks

A number of countries in Europe's Schengen area admit they fear delays and insufficient time to test the process ahead of new, more rigorous EU border checks that will be introduced next year, a new document reveals.

REVEALED: Countries fear non-EU travellers face delays under new EES border checks

Schengen countries are tightening up security at the external borders with the introduction of a new digital system (EES) to record the entry and exit of non-EU citizens in May 2023.

The EES will enable the automatic scanning of passports replacing manual stamping by border guards. It will register the person’s name, type of the travel document, biometric data (fingerprints and facial images) and the date and place of entry and exit. The data will be kept in a centralised database on a rolling three-year basis that is re-set at each entry. 

What the EES is intended to do is increase border security, including the enforcement of the 90-day short-stay limit for tourists and visitors.

EU citizens and third-country nationals who reside in a country of the Schengen area will not be subject to such checks as long as they can prove residency in an EU country however they will still be caught up in any delays at passport control if the new system as many fear, causes longer processing times.

READ ALSO: Foreigners living in EU not covered by new EES border checks

But given its scale, the entry into operation of the system has been raising concerns on many fronts, including the readiness of the physical and digital infrastructure, and the time required for border checks, which could subsequently cause massive queues at borders.

A document on the state of preparations was distributed last week by the secretariat of the EU Council (the EU institution representing member states) and published by Statewatch, a non-profit organisation that monitors civil liberties.

The paper contains the responses from 21 countries to a questionnaire about potential impacts on passenger flows, the infrastructure put in place and the possibility of a gradual introduction of the new system over a number of months.

This is what certain the countries have responded. Responses from Denmark, Spain and Sweden do not appear in the report but the answers from other countries will be relevant for readers in those countries.

READ ALSO: What the EU’s new EES border check system means for travel

‘Double processing time’

Austria and Germany are the most vocal in warning that passport processing times will increase when the EES will become operational.

“The additional tasks resulting from the EES regulation will lead to a sharp increase in process times”, which are expected to “double compared to the current situation,” Austrian authorities say. “This will also affect the waiting times at border crossing points (in Austria, the six international airports),” the document continues.

“Furthermore, border control will become more complicated since in addition to the distinction between visa-exempt and visa-required persons, we will also have to differentiate between EES-required and EES-exempt TCN [third country nationals], as well as between registered and unregistered TCN in EES,” Austrian officials note.

Based on an analysis of passenger traffic carried out with the aviation industry, German authorities estimate that checking times will “increase significantly”.

France expects to be ready for the introduction of the EES “in terms of passenger routes, training and national systems,” but admits that “fluidity remains a concern” and “discussions are continuing… to make progress on this point”.

Italy is also “adapting the border operational processes… in order to contain the increased process time and ensure both safety and security”.

“Despite many arguments for the introduction of automated border control systems based on the need for efficiency, the document makes clear that the EES will substantially increase border crossing times,” Statewatch argues.

‘Stable service unlikely by May 2023’

The border infrastructure is also being adapted for collecting and recording the data, with several countries planning for automated checks. So what will change in practice?

France will set up self-service kiosks in airports, where third-country nationals can pre-register their biometric data and personal information before being directed to the booth for verification with the border guard. The same approach will be adopted for visitors arriving by bus, while tablet devices such as iPads will be used for the registration of car passengers at land and sea borders.

Germany also plans to install self-service kiosks at the airports to “pre-capture” biometric data before border checks. But given the little time for testing the full process, German authorities say “a stable working EES system seems to be unlikely in May 2023.”

Austria intends to install self-service kiosks at the airports of Vienna and Salzburg “in the course of 2023”. Later these will be linked to existing e-gates enabling a “fully automated border crossing”. Austrian authorities also explain that airport operators are seeking to provide more space for kiosks and queues, but works will not be completed before the system is operational.

Italy is increasing the “equipment of automated gates in all the main  airport” and plans to install, at least in the first EES phase, about 600 self-service kiosks at the airports of Rome Fiumicino, Milan Malpensa, Venice and in those with “significant volumes of extra-Schengen traffic,” such as Bergamo, Naples, Bologna and Turin.

Switzerland, which is not an EU member but is part of the Schengen area, is also installing self-service kiosks to facilitate the collection of data. Norway, instead, will have “automated camera solutions operated by the border guards”, but will consider self-service options only after the EES is in operation.

Gradual introduction?

One of the possibilities still in consideration is the gradual introduction of the new system. The European Commission has proposed a ‘progressive approach’ that would allow the creation of “incomplete” passenger files for 9 months following the EES entry into operation, and continuing passport stamping for 3 months.

According to the responses, Italy is the only country favourable to this option. For Austria and France this “could result in more confusion for border guards and travellers”. French officials also argue that a lack of biometric data will “present a risk for the security of the Schengen area”.

France suggested to mitigate with “flexibility” the EES impacts in the first months of its entry into service. In particular, France calls for the possibility to not create EES files for third-country nationals who entered the Schengen area before the system becomes operational, leaving this task to when they return later.

This would “significantly ease the pressure” on border guards “during the first three months after entry into service,” French authorities said.

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