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European travel: Where can non-EU tourists enter?

Kyra Levine
October 20, 2020

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, countries worldwide continue to restrict entry and most travel remains discouraged. DW Travel offers a brief recap of where travel is permitted — and how to get the latest info.

People wearing face masks in front of the Eiffel Tower
Image: Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

The European Union

At present, the European Union member states generally only allow entry for citizens or residents of other EU countries and the Schengen Area. Anyone without residency or citizenship in a EU state or the Schengen Area wishing to enter from a third country must have a valid justification, though since August 6 most member countries have gradually been lifting restrictions for nationals of Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Tunisia, New Zealand, Thailand and Uruguay. Detailed information is available on the European Commission website.

Complete information and resources for each of the individual 27 EU member states is also available on the EU's Reopen EU website.

However, each EU country maintains its own standards for deciding whether and how citizens of third countries may enter if they are already in an EU or Schengen country.

Each EU member state also decides and implements its own further measures to curb the spread of the pandemic, such as quarantines upon entry from another region or country. Local regulations also differ widely on various social distancing measures, curfews and mask-wearing requirements.

Please note: The information listed here is not exhaustive, serves as a reference only and is subject to change at any time. All travelers to and within Europe, the EU and the Schengen Area are strongly advised to keep informed with the official guidance and regulations of local, state and national authorities of the relevant countries.

Europe's five most-visited destinations

Germany, along with France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom, is among the world's 10 most-visited countries, according to the UN World Tourism Organization. Travel to France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom remain heavily restricted.

France, the world's top tourism destination country by arrivals, has continued to heavily restrict entry to foreign citizens. Complete information is available on the French Foreign Ministry website.

Germany announced on October 1 the lifting of its general outbound travel warning for a total of 160 countries outside the EU. Going forward, each country will now be assessed individually.

Regarding inbound travel to Germany, note that if your entry is allowed but your country of departure is classified as a risk area, you must adhere to the latest quarantine requirements that apply in Germany.

Read more: FAQs for travelers to Germany during the pandemic

Italy has extended its state of emergency into 2021, and entry from abroad remains heavily restricted. Complete information is available at the Italian Foreign Ministry website.

Spain, like France, Germany and Italy, also permits unrestricted entry from the EU, the Schengen Area and a small list of third countries. The country's official tourism website provides complete information and resources.

United Kingdom: The current entry restrictions are complex, and many people allowed entry may nevertheless need to self-isolate. The UK government has established a list of travel corridors, countries from which visitors may enter and not have to self-isolate. However, the guidance differs for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

All travelers entering the UK, regardless of departure country or nationality, must complete a passenger locator form.

Which European countries are currently more open to tourism?

Croatia, an EU member state, allows entry from most foreign countries for tourism purposes. Most foreign citizens will be required to submit a negative PCR test taken in the 48 hours before arrival or undergo a test locally at their own expense, staying in isolation until the negative test result is available. Complete information is available via the Croatian government's coronavirus website

Ireland, an EU member state, despite imposing the highest levels of coronavirus restrictions remains open to most global travelers, but anyone arriving from a country not on its continually updated "green list" are subject to a 14-day quarantine upon arrival.This means, in effect, that travelers from selected third countries can enter and remain in Ireland for longer stays once the quarantine requirement has been fulfilled. Complete information is available via the Republic of Ireland's website.

EU member Malta allows travelers from third countries without proof of a negative PCR test or quarantine, provided they have spent the two weeks prior in a country on its safe list. Complete information is available via the Maltese foreign ministry's website

Montenegro, which is not a member of the EU, remains open for tourism to travelers from countries on its "green list," or countries on its "yellow list" if they provide a negative PCR test or positive antibody test. Complete information is available via the Montenegrin government's website.

Serbia, which is not a member of the EU, remains generally open for tourism, though as of September 18 foreign citizens arriving via Croatia, North Macedonia, Romania or Bulgaria must submit a negative PCR test taken in the 48 hours before arrival. Travelers are advised to contact the Serbian government for detailed information.

Turkey, which is not a member of the EU, is open for international travelers of nearly all nationalities. Proof of a negative PCR test is not required upon arrival, but passengers arriving must wear masks on their inbound flights. They must also agree to a possible health check and to abide by mask-wearing requirements and other guidelines while in the country. Further information is available at the Turkish ministry of foreign affairs website.