Safe travel between European countries

To slow down the spread of coronavirus and protect the health and well-being of all Europeans, some travel restrictions have been necessary. The European Commission is doing its utmost to allow people to meet friends and family, travel for work and to ensure free movement of citizens, goods and services – with full respect of health and safety measures.

The Commission has launched initiatives to help citizens travel safely across Europe:

  • Re-open EU

    Re-open EU

    Find up-to-date information on the travel and health situation for European countries.

  • EU Digital COVID-19 Certificate

    EU Digital COVID Certificate

    Learn more about the travel certificates that will facilitate free movement in the EU.

  • Mobile contact tracing apps

    Mobile contact tracing apps

    Find out how you can help can help break the chain of coronavirus infections through contact tracing apps.

A common approach to travel measures in the EU

On 13 October 2020, EU Member States adopted a Council Recommendation on a coordinated approach to the restriction of free movement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Recommendation was updated on 1 February 2021,14 June 2021, and 25 January 2022

Find out more on the common approach to travel measures

Common passenger locator form

Data exchange between Member States' contact tracing authorities can be particularly important when travellers are crossing borders in close proximity to each other, such as in airplanes or trains. Digital Passenger Locator Forms can be used by Member States to collect data from cross-border travellers entering their territory. In order for Member States to exchange relevant data through the exchange platform developed by the Commission and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the Commission published draft measures on 17 March 2021, which establish the necessary legal conditions for processing such personal data. 

Passenger and traveller rights

Under EU rules, passengers and travellers have the right to choose between vouchers or cash reimbursement for cancelled transport tickets (plane, train, bus/coach and ferries) or package travel. While reaffirming this right, the Commission recommendation of 13 May 2020 aims to ensure that vouchers become a viable and more attractive alternative to reimbursement for cancelled trips in the context of the current pandemic, which has also put heavy financial strains on travel operators.

You can check the list of all the national authorities in Europe that issue travel advice:

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Travel from non-EU countries to the EU

EU members have agreed on a common approach to travel from non-EU countries to the European Union  as set in a Council recommendation. On 22 February 2022, the Council updated the recommendation to further facilitate travel from outside the EU into the EU.  Member States agreed to apply these updates as of 1 March 2022

EU citizens and residents, their family members as well as those who have an essential reason to come to Europe should continue to be able to do so.

On 2 March 2022, the Commission proposed to activate the Temporary Protection Directive to offer quick and effective assistance to people fleeing Ukraine. The Commission also adopted operational guidelines to help Member States' border guards efficiently manage arrivals from Ukraine. Member States are encouraged to facilitate border crossings at the EU-Ukraine border, including for persons who are not sufficiently documented (e.g. do not have testing, vaccination and, or recovery certificates).

According to the Council Recommendation on travel to the EU during the pandemic, all requirements prior to arrival to the European Union should be waived for people fleeing war zones.

Exemptions to coronavirus travel restrictions

Vaccinated and recovered persons

EU countries should lift the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU for persons vaccinated with an EU-authorised or a WHO-approved vaccine, provided they have received the last dose of the primary vaccination series at least 14 days and no more than 270 days before arrival or they have received an additional booster dose.

EU countries should also lift the temporary restriction on non-essential travel for persons who have recovered from COVID-19 within 180 days before travelling to the EU if they can prove their recovery with an EU Digital COVID Certificate or a non-EU certificate deemed equivalent to the EU Digital COVID Certificate.

Children

Children over 6 and under 18 who fulfil the conditions set out for adults should be allowed to travel.

All other children over 6 and under 18 should be allowed to travel with a negative PCR test taken at the earliest 72 hours before departure. EU countries could require additional testing after arrival, as well as quarantine or isolation.

No test or additional requirements should be applied to children under the age of 6 travelling with an adult.

Countries on the EU list 

When the epidemiological situation in a country improves sufficiently, the Council can include it on the list of countries from where all travel should be possible, regardless of vaccination status. The following countries are currently included on the list:

  • Bahrain
  • Chile
  • China (subject to confirmation of reciprocity)
  • Colombia
  • Indonesia
  • Kuwait
  • New Zealand
  • Peru
  • Qatar
  • Rwanda
  • Saudi Arabia
  • South Korea
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Uruguay

Travel restrictions should also be gradually lifted for the special administrative regions of China Hong Kong and Macao. Under the category of entities and territorial authorities that are not recognised as states by at least one member state, travel restrictions for Taiwan should also be gradually lifted. 

The Council last updated the list on 17 January 2022. This list is reviewed every two weeks.

Residents of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican should be considered EU residents for the purpose of the recommendation. Schengen-associated countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) also take part in this recommendation. 

Emergency brake 

The Council recommendation also includes an ‘emergency brake' mechanism, allowing Member States to act quickly and in a coordinated manner to limit the risk of coronavirus variants entering the EU.

As a Council Recommendation is not a legally binding instrument, Member States and Schengen Associated Countries might apply different measures. Detailed information on the measures in place is available at Re-Open EU

 

Overstay caused by travel restrictions

In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, visa holders present in the Schengen area who could not leave before the expiry date of their short-stay visa have had their visa extended up to a maximum stay of 90/180 days by the designated Member States’ authorities. If the visa holders were compelled to stay beyond the extended period of 90/180 days, a national long-stay visa or a temporary residence permit should have been issued by the national authorities.

Member States are encouraged to waive administrative sanctions or penalties on third-country nationals who during the period of travel restrictions were unable to leave their territory due to travel restrictions. Overstays due to the temporary travel restrictions should not be taken into account during the processing of future visa applications.

Nationals of visa-waived third countries who have remained in the Schengen area beyond the permitted 90-day stay

For nationals of visa-waived third-countries who are compelled to stay beyond the extended 90/180 days, the competent national authorities should extend the validity of the authorisations for legal stay, issue a new one or take other appropriate measures that ensure a continued right to stay on their territory. Information is available on the websites of Member States’ national authorities.

Expired travel documents due to an unexpectedly extended stay abroad

EU citizens and their family members who are not in possession of a valid passport and/or visa should be allowed to enter the EU territory, if they can prove by other means that they are EU citizens or family members of an EU citizen. Possession of an expired passport should be deemed to constitute proof by other means in the current situation. Family members should always be able to prove that they are family members of the EU citizen.

Consular assistance for EU citizens abroad

Under EU law, citizens are entitled to seek help from the embassy or consulate of any EU country other than their own if they find themselves in a situation where they need assistance outside the EU, with no available embassy or consulate from their own EU Member State.

Information about EU citizens’ rights to diplomatic and consular protection outside the EU.

After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Commission and the European External Action Service have helped to bring home stranded EU citizens from all over the world. EU citizens in need of assistance outside the EU are encouraged to contact their Member State

Documents

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