Europe is beginning the process of opening its borders to vaccinated US residents in time for the summer vacation season. The re-opening process which has been agreed to by EU member states (after being recommended by the European Commission), must now be adopted by the European Council. Yes, it is a convoluted process but the goal is to open the borders quickly.
Which vaccines are EU approved?
The proposal will allow fully vaccinated tourist from an approved list of countries to enter the EU and travel freely. Travelers must have proof of an EU approved vaccine, which includes the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson/Janseen vaccines. The vaccine must be administered at least two weeks before traveling to Europe. If the vaccine is part of a two dose regimen, the second dose must be given at least two weeks before entry to Europe.
Which countries are approved?
The approved list of countries will be based on their Covid-19 infection rates. At this moment, the list of approved countries is limited to Australia, China, Israel, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand.
It is expected by both the US and EU that the United States will be added to this list, possibly by May 21, 2021. The delay in adding the US is partially tied to reciprocity between the EU and US. Right now the US does not allow residents of the EU to travel into the US. It is expected the US and EU will soon mutually allow vaccinated residents to travel freely between each other.
Remember, Great Britain is no longer part of the European Union. So these rules do not apply to the UK.
What’s the process?
The process is yet to be worked out. Greece has already announced they will remove the testing and quarantine requirements. Italy and Spain have indicated they want to open quickly and are following the lead of Greece.
The EU is working towards a “vaccine passport” approach. In March the EU proposed a “Digital Green Certificate” for EU residents. Its details are still to be worked out too.
Until the EU agrees on a standard approach, each country can develop its own standards. Some countries, such as Greece, have begun developing their own system of paper and/or digital “passports.”
Update – May 26, 2021:
Will reopen travel to vaccinated visitors starting June 7th.
On May 17th, Italy dropped the quarantine requirement for US residents with a negative Covid-19 test on “Covid-19 tested” flights. “Covid-19 tested flights” are offered by United, Delta and American Airlines on non-stop flights from their hubs.
Reopened to US residents on May 14th. Visitors must show proof of a vaccination or a negative Covid-19 PCR test.