Europe tightens restrictions for US travellers

By David Mumford & Chris Shieff


Some European countries are tightening restrictions for US travellers following the EU’s removal of the US from its safe travel list last week.

The EU’s guidance is non-binding and it is up to individual states to follow it or not – which means that the rules for US travellers vary greatly between each of the EU’s twenty-seven member states.

Here are the European countries which have published significant changes to their entry rules so far:


Tough new entry rules are now in effect for US travellers. They must be either fully vaccinated, or meet a special exemption to enter. All travellers must also hold a Covid test that is less than 24 hours old. Ten days of self-quarantine is then mandatory although there are several ways to avoid that requirement for essential travel.


US travellers are now banned from entering Sweden for non-essential reasons, regardless of vaccination status. There are some exemptions, the usual sort of things: certain business or family reasons, study, or if they hold citizenship of an EU country or a Swedish residence permit.


US travellers are now banned from entry, except for “close family members and persons in an established relationship with a resident of Norway”. For that, you need a negative Covid test taken within 24 hours prior to departure and also take a test upon entry.


The US is now on Bulgaria’s “Red Zone” list, which means that travellers arriving directly from the US are banned, regardless of vaccination status. However, Bulgarian entry requirements are based on the country of departure only – not on citizenship and not on countries through which you transit. This means US travellers can enter from non “Red Zone” countries as long as they have either: proof of vaccination, a recent negative test result, or proof of recovery.


Italy will now require vaccinated US travellers to take a Covid test before entering; and unvaccinated travellers will now have to quarantine for five days. (Previously, US travellers were able to enter Italy for any reason, with no quarantine required, as long as they provide either: proof of vaccination, a negative Covid test result, or proof of recovery.)


France has announced that from Sep 12, the US and Israel will be added to its orange list for travel – meaning that travellers from these countries will only be allowed to enter France without restrictions if they are fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated travellers will only be able to enter for ‘essential travel’. No impact to crew, who are already exempt from all restrictions. More info here.

Where else?

Several countries, including Spain, Denmark, and Belgium, have tweaked their rules for unvaccinated US travellers – now only permitting entry for essential travel.

However, some countries have not yet changed their rules at all, such as Germany, and Greece:


Germany added the US to its list of “High Risk” areas back on Aug 15, before the EU took the US off its safe travel list. Ultimately, travellers who have been in the US within the last 10 days can enter Germany with proof of vaccination, a recent negative test result, or proof of recovery. Without one of these, you have to quarantine for 10 days.


Greece fully reopened to tourism back in May. Anyone can enter as long as they tick one of the three standard boxes: proof of vaccination, a negative Covid test result, or proof of recovery. Greece announced on Sep 9 that they would not be introducing any new restrictions on travel from the US.

The UK

Trick question. The EU recommendation doesn’t apply to the UK, because it’s no longer part of the EU. The UK reopened to vaccinated US travellers earlier this month.

Will this affect crew?

Unlikely. In almost all cases crew are considered essential by EU member states. There may be an impact on your layovers though, if you are required to isolate.

Where can I go to view each country’s entry restrictions?

Countries publish their rules in a variety of ways and it can be confusing and frustrating to track them down and make sense of them.

For US travellers, the best bet is to check this site. It lists the Covid-related entry rules and requirements for all countries around the world, as published by the US Embassy in those countries.

Click image to go to the website.

There are other handy websites around too, including this one managed by the EU itself.

What about the other way round? Is the US open to travellers from Europe?

The rules in the US are comparably fairly straight-forward.

The main one is this – with specific exemptions, foreign nationals are not allowed to enter the US if they have been in any of the following countries within the past 14 days: the European Schengen area, the UK and Ireland, mainland China, Iran, India, Brazil, and South Africa. The ‘specific exemptions’ part basically means this: US residents and family members, and flight crew traveling to the US on C, D or C1/D visas. For more details, check the US CDC webpage here.

So for travellers heading to the US from Europe, as long as they haven’t been any of these places within the past 14 days, they just need a Covid test or certificate of recovery to enter, regardless of vaccination status. More info on these requirements can be found here.

Glaring errors

Did we miss something big? Entry ban in Azerbaijan? Restriction-mania in Lithuania? Sometimes things do escape our net. Let us know, and via the great OPSGROUP machine we shall get the info back out to everyone in the group! Email us at:

note: The Glaring Errors = great band name. 


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