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Vaccinated Americans will be able to travel to Europe this summer, says EU chief

Americans who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will be able to visit the EU this summer, president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has vowed.

Vaccinated Americans will be able to travel to Europe this summer, says EU chief
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen. Photo: John Thys/AFP

“The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines,” von der Leyen told The New York Times.

“This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union.

“Because one thing is clear: the 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines approved by the EMA”, Von der Leyen said.

US health authorities have recommended the Covid-19 vaccines made by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, all of which are also authorised for use in the EU.

The president of the EU Commission did not spell out a timeline on when exactly US tourists would be able to visit EU countries or what documentation they would need, however the European Parliament is debating vaccine passports on Wednesday, April 28th.
 
The European Union halted all non-essential travel to the bloc in March 2020 to limit the spread of coronavirus.
 
While border policy is a matter for individual member states, the EU has adopted some rules across the bloc particularly around travel from outside Europe.
 
Last month the head of the European Commission vaccines task force, Thierry Breton, unveiled the first European “health passport”, claiming he hopes Europe will have a summer season “comparable to last year”. 
 
The provisional plans for the health passport include an option to show either a vaccination certificate or a recent Covid test.
 
 
The new health certificate should be available “within two to three months” in both digital and paper formats.
 
Americans who are frequent visitors to European countries have been eagerly awaiting news that governments will relax travel restrictions, but with a third wave of Covid-19 infections hitting much of Europe their hopes have been dashed.
 
The EU’s initially slow vaccine rollout has also hampered the chances that borders would soon reopen to non-essential travel from outside the bloc.
 
And for the time being at least Americans have been advised not to travel to Europe, even if they are vaccinated.
 
Last week the US government increased its travel warning for most EU countries to “Level 4 – Do Not Travel”, citing “very high” Covid-19 numbers.
 
The warning does not bar Americans from travel to these countries, however the Department of State warns that insurance policies may not be valid.
 
What is “essential” travel?

The EU does not define what counts as an “imperative reason”, however people who can travel into the European bloc now include:

  • Citizens of an EU country
  • Non-EU citizens who are permanent residents of an EU country and need to come home
  • Healthcare workers engaged in crucial work on the coronavirus crisis
  • Frontier workers and in some circumstances seasonal workers
  • Delivery drivers
  • Diplomats, humanitarian or aid workers
  • Passengers in transit
  • Passengers travelling for imperative family reasons
  • Persons in need of international protection or for other humanitarian reasons
  • Third country nationals travelling for the purpose of study
  • Highly qualified third-country workers IF their employment is essential from an economic perspective and cannot be postponed or performed abroad

Find more details on the exemptions here.

 
 
 

Member comments

  1. I’m an American hoping to take a long-awaited trip to Geneva/Lausanne and London, in August. For those familiar with how such things tend to go, is it reasonable to expect that Switzerland and the UK will follow in the EU’s footsteps and open up to fully-vaccinated tourists from the United States over the Summer?

    Thanks in advance for any input.

    1. I’m British living in Italy and think it’s very likely that the UK will open up to American tourists by August. I have my fingers crossed for you!

  2. I have owned a house in Italy for 20 years, but I am not a resident. i am a retired British resident but have been used to spending at least 5 months a year in Italy at a time of my choosing. My house has been used for tourism being let for holidays in the past. Can I apply for a visa extension to allow me visits of any duration?
    I do not work in Italy, or have family residents in Italy, and I am too old to be a student. I contribute all local taxes in my commune and i contribute to the local economy. Can I apply for a long stay visa simply as a home owner?
    I would appreciate any information. Thank you.
    Sally
    ?

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TRAVEL NEWS

EU extends Covid travel certificates until 2023 but what does this mean for travellers?

The EU has announced that its Covid travel certificate will be extended until 2023. Claudia Delpero looks at what this mean if you have a trip planned this year.

EU extends Covid travel certificates until 2023 but what does this mean for travellers?

Cleaning up the phone and thinking of getting rid of that Covid app? Just wait a minute. 

The European Union has decided to extend the use of EU Covid certificates by one year, until June 30th 2023. 

The European Commission first made the proposal in February as the virus, and the Omicron variant in particular, was continuing to spread in Europe. At that point it was “not possible to determine the impact of a possible increase in infections in the second half of 2022 or of the emergence of new variants,” the Commission said. 

Now tourism is taking off again, while Covid cases are on the rise in several European countries.

So the EU has taken action to ensure that travellers can continue using the so-called ‘digital green certificates’ in case new restrictions are put in place after their initial deadline of June 30th, 2022. 

What is the EU ‘digital green certificate’?

If you have travelled within the EU in the last year, you have probably already used it.

On 1st July 2021, EU countries started to introduce the ‘digital green certificate’, a Covid pass designed by the European Commission to facilitate travel between EU member states following months of restrictions.

It can be issued to EU citizens and residents who have been vaccinated against Covid, have tested negative or have recovered from the virus, as a proof of their health status. 

Although it’s called a certificate, it isn’t a separate document, it’s just a way of recognising all EU countries’ national health pass schemes.

It consists of a QR code displayed on a device or printed.

So if you live in an EU country, the QR code issued when you were vaccinated or tested can be scanned and recognised by all other EU countries – you can show the code either on a paper certificate or on your country’s health pass app eg TousAntiCovid if you’re in France or the green pass in Italy. 

Codes are recognised in all EU 27 member states, as well as in 40 non-EU countries that have joined the scheme, including the UK – full list here.

What does the extension of certificates mean? 

In practice, the legal extension of the EU Covid pass does not mean much if EU countries do not impose any restrictions.

It’s important to point out that each country within the EU decides on its own rules for entry – requiring proof of vaccination, negative tests etc so you should check with your country of destination.

All the EU certificate does is provide an easy way for countries to recognise each others’ certificates.

At present travel within the EU is fairly relaxed, with most countries only requiring negative tests for unvaccinated people, but the certificate will become more relevant again if countries impose new measures to curb the spread of the virus. 

According to the latest data by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, countries such as France, Portugal and parts of Italy and Austria are in the red again. 

The EU legislation on the certificate neither prescribes nor prohibits such measures, but makes sure that all certificate holders are treated in the same way in any participating country. 

The EU certificate can also be used for access to venues such as bars and restaurants if countries decided to re-impose health or vaccines passes on a domestic basis.

So nothing changes?

In fact, the legislation introduces some changes to the current certificates. These include the clarification that passes issued after vaccination should reflect all doses administered, regardless of the member state where the inoculation occurred. This followed complaints of certificates indicating an incorrect number of vaccine doses when these were received in different countries.

In addition, new rules allow the possibility to issue a certificate of recovery following an antigen test and extend the range of uthorised antigen tests to qualify for the green pass. 

To support the development and study of vaccines against Covid, it will also be possible to issue vaccination certificates to people participating in clinical trials.

At the insistence of the European Parliament, the Commission will have to publish an assessment of the situation by December 31st 2022 and propose to repeal or maintain the certificate accordingly. So, while it is extended for a year, the certificate could be discontinued earlier if it will no longer be consider necessary. 

The European parliament rapporteur, Spanish MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar, said: “The lack of coordination from EU governments on travel brought chaos and disruption to the lives of millions of Europeans that simply wanted to move freely and safely throughout the EU.

“We sincerely hope that the worst of the pandemic is far behind us and we do not want Covid certificates in place a day longer than necessary.”

Vaccination requirements for the certificate

An EU certificate can be issued to a person vaccinated with any type of vaccine, but many countries accept only EMA-approved vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax, Valneva and Janssen) – if you have been vaccinated with another vaccine, you should check the rules on the country you are travelling to.  

Certificates remain valid for 9 months (270) days following a complete vaccination cycle – so if you had your vaccine more than nine months ago you will need a booster in order to be considered fully vaccinated.

There is no requirement for a second booster, so if you have had a booster you remain ‘fully vaccinated’ even if your booster was administered more than 9 months ago. 

As of 1st March 2022, EU countries had issued almost 1.2 billion EU Covid certificates, of which 1.15 billion following vaccination, 511 million as a result of tests and 55 million after recovery from the virus. 

France, Italy, Germany, Denmark and Austria are the countries that have issued the largest number of EU Covid certificates. 

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