The number one question on everyone’s lips right now is “when will this pandemic be over?” The number two question (probably) is “when can we travel to Europe again?” On March 17 the EU passed a travel ban prohibiting international visitors from entering Europe for 30 days. Since then, the ban has been renewed every month, plunging travelers to a nightmarish Groundhog Day-esque reality that keeps us wondering when we’ll be able to freely explore our world again. Not much has changed for us since March. In June the EU released a list of countries that would be permitted to enter its borders, based on their success containing COVID-19. No surprise, the US wasn’t on it.
Flights are running on limited schedules between the US and Europe, but that doesn’t guarantee you can actually get in. EU countries are allowing entry to those with EU passports, and some countries are allowing essential workers and students. That said, unless you possess dual citizenship and have an EU passport, chances are you’re on the “no” list.
Technically each member state of the EU is free to do as it pleases. Pretty much every country, however, has decided to stick to the collective agreement and not open any borders unless it’s part of a coordinated effort to do so. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some slight deviations, which may prove intriguing to travelers.
Croatia is one of the only countries in the EU allowing US tourists to visit. All you have to do is present evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test, with a result no more than 48 hours old. Without a test you’ll have to quarantine for 14 days at your own expense, or for one week if you take a test within seven days of entering the country. Before arriving you’ll also have to fill out an online travel form with a confirmed hotel or accommodation booking.
US travelers are also able to visit the UK but must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. The UK released a list of countries and territories exempt from quarantine, but of course, the US isn’t on it. Upon arrival you’ll have to provide UK border control with your contact details, including phone number and address in the UK where you’ll be self-isolating. Failure to quarantine may result in a fine of up to $1,270. Similarly, US citizens are allowed to travel to Ireland but must self-isolate for 14 days.
Back in June, Portugal got many travelers’ hopes up when it announced it would open, quarantine-free, to international travelers. However, when the EU announced the extension of its border closures in July, Portugal followed suit. Portugal has vowed to open to Portuguese-speaking countries and those with large Portuguese communities — including the United States — as long as reciprocity is granted for Portuguese citizens. The US’ travel ban currently remains in place for EU citizens, but if that should end, Americans would presumably be able to travel to Portugal.
The Mediterranean island of Malta also recently opened to US travelers, as did Turkey, which lifted its COVID restrictions entirely back in June. Serbia is another country welcoming international travelers, including US citizens, with no testing or quarantine restrictions.
European travel rules and restrictions are changing daily. The best way to stay abreast of the evolving situation is to check each country’s embassy website for updates. But if you were dreaming back in spring of your eventual fall getaway, unfortunately, you’re going to have to wait a little longer.
We probably wouldn’t get too psyched about a European ski vacation in winter either.