EU Covid certificate: What are the different entry rules in place around Europe?
The EU is about to roll out its much-hyped EU Covid certificate aimed at facilitating frictionless travel. But different rules on vaccines and testing and the documents needed for travel mean crossing borders might not be as smooth as initially hoped.
The EU's Covid certificates are designed to allow for a return to freedom of travel. While it should help travellers avoid quarantine and the need to take PCR tests before and after entry, it doesn't necessarily mean travellers can return to the days of free movement and frictionless travel.
That's in large part because the EU has issued recommendations but basically allowed each country to set its own rules on vaccination requirements - in other words whether they accept one dose or two doses and how long after inoculation they become valid. EU countries can also decide to accept travellers vaccinated with jabs that have not had EU approval.
The EU Covid certificates are also designed to store details for test results and proof that people have recovered from the virus, but it appears the scheme in many countries is not yet set up to integrate that information.
The EU has recommended countries accept both PCR tests and the rapid antigen tests for the purpose of the certificate but to make matters slightly more complicated it is up to each member state to decide it what kind of tests it accepts for entry.
Up to now EU and Schengen countries have imposed slightly different rules for tests that can be used for entry.
Here's a quick run through on entry rules for travel within the EU for certain countries to help you plan your trip, starting with what the EU recommends member states should adhere to.
The EU says...
Fully vaccinated persons with the EU Digital COVID Certificate should be exempted from travel-related testing or quarantine 14 days after having received the last dose of an EU approved vaccine (AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson&Johnson). This should also cover recovered persons having received a single dose of a 2-dose vaccine and those who have received a single dose vaccine approved by the EU (Johnson & Johnson). Member States could also lift such additional restrictions after the first dose of a 2-dose series, while taking into account the impact of variants of concern.
Recovered persons with the EU Digital COVID Certificate should be exempted from travel-related testing or quarantine during the first 180 days after a positive PCR test. Positive tests should become valid for use to prove recovery at least 11 days after the test was carried out..
Testing - The EU says it is "left to each member state to decide whether it accepts rapid antigen tests, or only PCR tests.
The member states agreed on a standard validity period for tests: 72 hours for PCR tests and, where accepted by a Member State, 48 hours for rapid antigen tests.
The EU also states that children under the age of 12 years should be exempt from travel-related tests.
Any other important info: The emergency break - The EU says countries can immediately pull out of the scheme - in other words enforce testing and quarantine on travellers from within the EU, if Covid infections or cases variants in a country rise steeply.
So what are the rules on vaccines and testing that each individual country is imposing?
Vaccines - only EMA- approved vaccines are accepted; Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (known as Janssen). To count as fully vaccinated, travellers must be two weeks after their second dose, four weeks after a single dose of Johnson & Johnson or two weeks after if you only had one dose for another reason (such as previously having had Covid). French vaccine certificates need to be updated to ensure their QR codes are EU compliant - here's how.
Testing - For all arrivals from green list countries (which includes the whole EU and Schengen zone) France accepts PCR or antigen tests taken within 72 hours. Home tests are not accepted (which includes test results from the compulsory UK travel testing package).
Any other important info - you also need to fill out a simple declaration, swearing that you do not have Covid symptoms and have not been in contact with Covid patients - find that HERE.
Vaccines - Only EMA-approved vaccines (as detailed above) are accepted for the moment. To count as fully vaccinated in Germany, you have to wait two weeks after your last dose. Germany has been rolling out its digital Covid health pass and vaccine certificate in the last few weeks.The Health Ministry confirmed to The Local that it can be used for travel within the EU Here's more information how you can get a hold of it.
Testing - Anyone travelling to Germany by plane needs to show a negative Covid test, proof of being fully vaccinated, or proof of recovery from Covid before boarding the flight. Both PCR and antigen tests are accepted. You can find more information on testing rules here. Germany has already relaxed its quarantine rules, particularly for vaccinated people.
Any other important info: From July 1st Germany is lifting its general warning against tourist travel. However, there are still some restrictions including a ban on entry from 'virus variant areas'. In the EU that is currently only Portugal. The travel warning will remain in place for 'virus variant' and 'high incidence' countries. And you have to fill in an online form if coming from these areas. For areas that are classed as 'basic risk areas', Germany will advise against travel there. For countries in the EU that are non-risk areas, Germany will ask for special caution when travelling.
Vaccines - Spain accepts proof of immunisation from vaccines authorised by the European Medicines Agency or the World Health Organization. These are currently Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (EMA) as well as Sinopharm and Sinovac (WHO). The full vaccination treatment (two doses except J&J) must have been completed 14 days before travel to Spain. Vaccination documentation “issued by the competent authorities” of your country can be used to access the Digital Covid Certificate for travel within the EU and to accompany the health control form that all travellers need to fill in to get a QR code with all your relevant health data, to be shown on paper or digital format at the airport or port.
Testing - For arrivals from EU/EEA countries listed as high risk by Spain (and from July 2nd also arrivals from the UK), a negative PCR test or antigen test is required from travellers who haven’t been fully vaccinated. EU travellers from green-listed areas don’t have to show proof of testing or vaccination when entering the country. In Spain’s case, PCR or antigen tests have to be carried out within 48 hours prior to travel. The diagnostic test document should include the date of sampling, identification and contact details of the centre performing the analysis, technique used and negative result. Children under 12 don’t require a test.
Any other important info - All international travellers to Spain have to complete a health control form before travel to Spain on either the website or the app. EU travellers to Spain can also prove their Covid status through proof that they have recovered from Covid in the past six months. Documents can be in either English, Spanish, French or German and in paper or electronic format.
Vaccines – Italy requires travellers to show that they are fully inoculated with both doses of an EMA-approved vaccine; Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca; or after the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine (also known as Janssen). Children under the age of two are exempt from the health pass requirement.
Testing – For all arrivals from EU and Schengen zone countries, Italy accepts the results of PCR or antigen swab tests taken within the 48 hours before arrival. The results of home tests are not accepted (including tests from the UK’s compulsory travel testing package). After June 30th, people who test negative in Italy must show their result using the digital 'green pass' issued automaitcally by the health ministry, instead of the paper certificates issued by testing centres used until now.
Any other important info - Before your trip to Italy, you should also fill out a European Digital Passenger Locator Form (dPLF), giving details of where you’re departing from and where you’ll be staying. The form is available online here.
Switzerland entry requirements differ significantly on the basis of where you are arriving from as well as your mode of arrival. Switzerland’s vaccination passport will work in tandem with that of the EU, but will not be ready for release on July 1st. It is expected in the first few weeks of July.
People arriving from the Schengen area via land can enter freely without any restrictions and do not need to fill out the form.
People arriving from inside the Schengen region by plane or from virus variant of concern countries (whether inside or outside Schengen) must be fully vaccinated for more than two weeks with a vaccine approved by Switzerland or the EMA.
This includes Moderna, Pfizer-Biontech, AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson, even though the latter two are not administered in Switzerland,
Those who have recovered from the virus in the previous six months can also enter with proof of recovery. Switzerland does not accept antibody tests as evidence of recovery.
VOC areas currently include Brazil, Canada, India, South Africa, Nepal, and the UK.
If you have been vaccinated or recovered from the virus, you do not need to test on arrival in Switzerland.
If you have not been vaccinated or recovered from the virus, you will need to present a negative PCR test (not older than 72 hours) or a negative rapid antigen test (not older than 48 hours) before boarding your flight to Switzerland if you are coming from the Schengen zone. You will not need to quarantine.
If you are coming from a virus variant of concern area and have not been vaccinated/recovered, you will need to show a negative PCR test (not older than 72 hours) or a negative rapid antigen test (not older than 48 hours). You will also need to quarantine.
Any other important info:
Everyone entering Switzerland by air will need to fill out the following form. You will also need to fill out the following form.
For Sweden the rules are more relaxed for Swedish nationals and residents of the country, who are not subject to any requirements to be vaccinated or prove a negative test.
For foreign visitors to Sweden travellers with the EU Covid certificate are allowed into the country "14 days after a first shot of the Covid-19 vaccine." This only applies to travellers over the age of 18. Only EMA approved vaccines apply.
Inbound journeys are allowed no later than 72 hours after a negative test result. This applies only to travellers over the age of 18.
A certificate showing a return to health from SARS-CoV-2 infection allows an inbound journey at the earliest 11 days after a positive test.
No negative Covid test is required when travelling to Sweden directly from another Nordic country, meaning Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway.
Vaccines- Only fully vaccinated travellers who have EMA approved vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson) and those who can document that they have had Covid-19 in the past six months via the EU health pass will be allowed to enter. To be classed as fully vaccinated in Norway, at least two weeks will have passed since your last jab.
Testing- Travellers using the EU's vaccine pass will be exempt from testing before they arrive in Norway and also testing at the border.
Any other important info: Those using the EU's vaccine passport will also skip the ten-day entry quarantine period and the entry registration requirement.
Vaccines - Only EMA- approved vaccines are accepted: Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. To count as fully vaccinated, two weeks must have passed after travellers' second dose, or first dose in the case of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Testing - All arrivals from green list countries (which includes everywhere in the EU and Schengen zone except Portugal, Latvia, Ireland, and parts of Spain), must present a negative test upon entry, and not before boarding the plane.
A negative PCR test has to be no more than 72 hours old, and a rapid test 48 hours old at the time of entry. Home tests are not accepted. If travelling by air, Denmark's airports offer free rapid tests to arriving passengers before they get to border control.
Those who have been vaccinated or recovered from a previous infection need not show a negative test, so long as they can document this.
Passengers can document their status either with the EU Covid certificate, or with paper documents.
Any other important info:
Denmark considers travellers to be immune if they have recovered from a Covid-19 infection. The immunity status begins 14 days after a positive PCR test (if the person has recovered), and the immunity status is then valid for eight months.
The EU Covid certificate can also be used within Denmark to enter restaurants, bars, museums, concerts and other places where the country's domestic coronapas is required.
All people aged ten and over must comply with the following requirements.
Austria from July 1st has updated a list of safe countries. This includes all Schengen countries and a handful of non-Schengen countries including the United States but not including the United Kingdom.
You can enter from a safe country 22 days after your first shot (but not more than three months if you have only had one shot). The immunity is deemed to last for nine months from your second shot.
This is relatively unusual in that most countries require both shots.
You must have been vaccinated with an EMA approved vaccine or one approved from the WHO.
The WHO approval requirement is also relatively rare in Europe, as it means vaccines from more manufacturers are accepted. This includes:
Comirnaty (BioNtech/Pfizer), Vaxzevria/AstraZeneca, and Covishield from Serum Institute of India COVID-19, Vaccine Janssen from Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Moderna, Sinopharm SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine (Vero Cell), Inactivated (InCoV) and Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine, SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine (Vero Cell), Inactivated.
You can also enter if you have recovered from the virus in the past 180 days. This can be evidenced with a medical certificate less than six months old or with an antibody certificate less than three months old.
You can also show evidence of a negative test to arrive, although this does get a little complicated due to the variety of tests on offer.
There are two broad categories of test and they apply for different time periods.
The antigen tests, which you can get done at pharmacies, doctors and testing centres (aka test streets) across the country, are valid for 48 hours.
PCR tests – which take longer but are considered the ‘gold standard’ when it comes to testing – apply for 72 hours.
If you do not have a test, you can do one within 24 hours in Austria.
Any other important info:
You will also need to fill out the pre-travel clearance form. More info is available here.
Other countries in the EU
For information on the rules for travelling with the EU Covid certificate for other countries in the EU and Schengen area you can visit Reopen EU