As vaccination rates rise and summer draws closer, hopeful holidaymakers who've already had their COVID-19 shots may be holding their breath to see where they can vacation in Europe this summer. The EU's new "Digital COVID Certificate" is due to kick in from July 1 to facilitate travel within Europe, and member states recently agreed on recommendations to allow fully vaccinated tourists from abroad back into the bloc. But for now, the reality is still a patchwork of restrictions, with member states applying different policies in different ways.
With the situation varying from country to country, here's a breakdown of some of the rules — and exemptions — in place for vaccinated travelers across the EU.
France, the world's number one destination for international tourists, reopens to many fully vaccinated visitors from around the world as of June 9. Under new rules, vaccinated people traveling from the EU and countries on France's "green" list, including South Korea, Japan, and Israel, can avoid COVID-19 testing requirements altogether. Unvaccinated travelers from these regions can enter with a negative test.
Meanwhile, vaccinated tourists from France's"orange" list, which includes the US, the UK, and most countries in Africa and Asia, will no longer need an essential reason to travel. These visitors will be exempt from quarantine but must still present a negative COVID-19 test.
France recognizes all vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency and considers travelers fully vaccinated two weeks after their final dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or AstraZeneca jabs, and four weeks after the single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Unvaccinated people from these areas will still only be allowed entry to France for essential reasons such as attending a funeral or urgent medical care. The same goes for France's "red" list, which includes South Africa, Bangladesh, Chile, and Colombia. All those arriving from red zones must self-isolate for at least seven days — even if they are vaccinated.
More information on travel to France is available through the French foreign ministry website.
Spain opened its borders to vaccinated travelers from many countries around the world on June 7. People entering Spain from what it deems "risk" areas — including many EU members and most other countries in the world — can avoid quarantine requirements by showing proof of full vaccination with a jab approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or the World Health Organization (WHO) at least 14 days before arriving, proof of recovery from COVID-19, or a negative test.
Spain has been raising eyebrows in Europe by allowing tourists from the UK to enter freely, regardless of vaccination status. Meanwhile, most EU citizens must have proof of COVID-19 immunity or a test. Further restrictions are in place on travel from India.
Spain's "TravelSafe" website has more information on travel to the country.
Greece is open to tourists from around 50 countries, including all EU states, the US, Canada, Russia, and China. To enter Greece, travelers must have either a vaccination certificate, a negative PCR test, or proof of recovery from COVID-19. The Greek government lists the following vaccines among those accepted: Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax, Johnson and Johnson, Sinovac, Sputnik V, Casino Biologics, and Sinopharm.
Greek authorities consider people fully vaccinated 14 days after their last dose was administered and all travelers may still be subject to random rapid testing at the airport. All arrivals must complete a passenger locator form at least 24 hours before arrival.
More information on travel to Greece is available on the Visit Greece website.
On May 25, Cyprus announced it was opening its borders to tourists from dozens of countries including all EU and EEA states, Canada, Egypt, Serbia, the UK, and the US. The country has a traffic light system in place and tourists from "orange" or "red" countries are subject to testing rules.
However, fully vaccinated passengers with valid vaccination certificates are entirely exempt, no matter the color code of the country they come from. Cyprus accepts all vaccines approved for use in the EU as well as the Sputnik V and Sinopharm shots.
Unlike many other countries, Cyprus considers passengers "fully vaccinated" as soon as they receive their last dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, though a two-week delay applies for those receiving the one-shot Janssen jab. All travelers must apply for a "Cyprus Flight Pass" before departing for Cyprus.
Passengers arriving from parts of the EU classified as orange, red, or dark red in the European Center for Disease Control's COVID-19 map can travel to Croatia if they have a vaccination certificate showing they have received an EU-approved or Gamelaya (Sputnik V) vaccine. But watch out: Different delay periods apply depending on the type of vaccine and the number of doses administered.
Croatia also accepts proof of recovery from COVID-19 or a recent negative test as alternatives. Tourists from outside the EU can enter on more or less the same terms so long as they have confirmation of paid accommodation in Croatia. There are no pandemic-related restrictions at all for travelers arriving from the countries on which the EU recommends lifting non-essential travel bans.However, passengers from South Africa, Brazil, and India must quarantine, regardless of vaccination status.
More information on travel to Croatia can be found on the Croatia tourism website.
Madeira, but not mainland Portugal
There are no quarantine or testing requirements for tourists arriving to the autonomous Portuguese region of Madeira. The dedicated website "Madeira safe to discover" states that "all OFFICIAL vaccination documents are accepted." The vaccination certificate should be in English and issued by visitors' national authorities. It must include information on the traveler's identity as well as the type of vaccine and when doses were administered. Proof of past infection also entitles holidaymakers to an exemption from testing requirements. Other visitors must undergo testing, though Madeira offers one free PCR test per visitor. Different rules apply in mainland Portugal, where most travelers must have a negative COVID-19 test to enter, regardless of vaccination status.
Germany and beyond: Vaccination certificates, but only on limited terms
Most travel to Germany from outside the EU and Schengen Area is still limited to urgent journeys only. However, Germany has begun accepting COVID-19 certificates in certain cases where travel is permitted. While passengers arriving by plane must usually get tested before departure, those who can provide proof of vaccination instead are now exempt. And while travelers who have spent time in what Germany deems a "risk area" must enter quarantine as a rule, the quarantine period can be avoided or "ended prematurely" if proof of vaccination is submitted to Germany's entry portal, according to the country's Robert Koch Institute. All EU-approved vaccines are accepted.
Passengers who have been in a country Germany classifies as an "area of variant of concern" — such as the UK, Botswana, Nepal or Mozambique as of June 4 — cannot leave quarantine early, even if they are vaccinated.
More information on travel to Germany is available on the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community website.
Other EU countries including Denmark, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia, Austria, Poland, and Lithuania are taking similar approaches to Germany for now; maintaining restrictions on most non-essential travel from outside the EU while waiving some test and quarantine requirements for vaccinated people.
Some EU countries also have bilateral deals in place to mutually recognize national vaccination certificates. For example, Hungary waives entry restrictions for vaccinated travelers from countries including Turkey, Slovenia, and Serbia.
The European Union's "Reopen EU" website provides regular, up-to-date information on travel rules and restrictions in all 27 member states.