The European Union is slowly welcoming travellers back to the country since it shut is borders earlier this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Based on travel recommendations by the EU Council, some countries are now on the approved travel list thanks to their ability to meet certain criteria for entry. Since this time, with the continual outbreak, the list has been updated, with some countries moving back to that restricted list. Before travelling to the EU, be sure you are up to date on EU travel restrictions and take the necessary precautions to ensure a safe trip. Here is the current approved EU travel list and how the EU is controlling the spread of coronavirus while you travel.
What Countries Are on the Approved EU Travel List?
Based on the criteria set by the EU Council, Member States can lift the travel restrictions for residents of these countries:
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- China (subject to confirmation of reciprocity)
China is “subject to confirmation of reciprocity,” which states that China residents are allowed entry only if China opens its borders to travellers from the EU.
The European Commission also has guidelines to help Member States gradually lift EU travel restrictions. Members may choose how to implement the list but are advised not to lift travel bans to any country that is not on the list. For that reason, when travelling to the EU, be sure to check first to see what EU travel restrictions have been lifted in the country you plan to visit.
What Criteria Do Countries Have to Meet?
The list of countries whose residents are allowed to travel to Europe is based on several criteria that are checked every 14 days: the number of new COVID-19 cases, a stable or decreasing trend of new cases, and the country’s overall response to COVID-19—including testing, containment measures, and treatment.
The list is updated regularly, which means countries that were previously on the list could potentially be removed. EU travel restrictions can be reintroduced, removed, or partially lifted if countries do not meet certain conditions established by the EU Commission.
Are There Exceptions to Enter the EU?
For countries with imposed EU travel restrictions, EU citizens and their family members, as well as long-term EU residents and some family members, may still enter and travel within the EU. However, member countries can require EU nationals, residents, and family members to quarantine when they enter Europe from a country not currently on the approved travel list.
Several other categories of travelers can bypass the latest EU restrictions including passengers in transit, students traveling to schools, and essential workers such as healthcare professionals, diplomats, and humanitarian aid workers. The EU Council’s full travel exemption list includes:
- Healthcare professionals
- Frontier workers
- Seasonal workers in agriculture
- Transport personnel
- Passengers in transit
- Passengers travelling for imperative family reasons
- Persons in need of international protection or for other humanitarian reasons
- Third-country nationals travelling for study
- Highly qualified third-country workers if employment necessary from an economic perspective.
If you have an essential function or other need, you should contact the individual EU Member State to get on the approved EU travel list.
How Is the EU Controlling the Coronavirus Spread Through Travel?
The European Commission has made it their mission to help people confidently reassume travel within the EU. The Council recently launched ‘Re-open EU,’ a web platform that contains essential information and practical tips for people travelling to the EU.
Also available as a mobile app, this interactive tool provides real-time information for travel within the EU. You can check country-specific information, updates, and advice for each EU Member State through an interactive map that gives you travel restrictions and safety measures such as rules for social distancing or wearing facemasks. The information is updated frequently and available in twenty-four EU languages.
New Sanitization and Health Monitoring Protocols
The health and safety of passengers remain top priorities to the EU. To ensure the safety of passengers when travelling to the EU, the Council recommends these practical guidelines:
- Passengers are encouraged to book tickets online and check in online or advance.
- There should be more distancing at security checks and luggage drop-offs.
- Fewer passengers are allowed on board to minimise risks.
- Passengers should wear masks while in the airport at all times.
- Airports may remove tables and benches to avoid overcrowding.
- The airline personnel should be provided with adequate protective equipment.
- Protective barriers should be installed between passengers and personnel.
- Doors should open automatically where possible so passengers can avoid touching buttons or door handles.
- Sanitising/disinfecting gel should be available at the airport and on board the flight.
- Airplanes should be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
- Food and beverages may no longer be on sale on board to minimise contact.
- Airlines should ensure proper ventilation such as using appropriate air filters.
- Airlines are advised to develop strategies if a passenger falls ill or shows symptoms of coronavirus.
For additional guidelines for travelling during COVID-19, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) offers extensive Travellers’ Health resources about all health issues related to specific destinations.
Travelling to the EU Safely
The EU approved travel list will continue to change depending on the health status of the country and how it is handling COVID-19. To ensure your safety while travelling, it’s important that you keep on top of the latest travel restrictions and requirements, so your travel plans go smoothly. If you are travelling from a country that is on the approved list, make sure you are closely following the guidelines established by the EU Council and ECDC.
When travelling to the EU from a country that has new restrictions, there is a chance that your flight may be cancelled. Understanding EU travel restrictions and knowing what to expect can help you stay protected during these unprecedented times. Although COVID-19 cancelled flights may not eligible for compensation, you still have passenger rights under European Passenger Rights Regulation (EU 261).
TravelRefund remains committed to helping you receive travel compensation if your flight has been delayed, cancelled, or overbooked due to factors outside of your control. If want to learn more about your travel rights or find out if you have a case, contact us today. We can help explore your passenger rights and determine if you may be eligible for compensation due to unexpected changes in your travel plans.