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Want to travel to Europe this summer? Here’s what you should know

Want to travel to Europe this summer? Here's what you should know


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For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

As many Americans continue to get their COVID-19 shots and the guidance for fully vaccinated people changes accordingly, some may be itching to travel after more than a year spent at home. On May 19, travel to Europe was put on the table when the European Union voted to ease COVID-19 restrictions for travelers from COVID-19-“safe” countries, as well as vaccinated foreigners from not-so-safe nations — the US included. 

The new list of criteria for nonessential travel to Europe will likely be adopted this week or the next, Bloomberg reported, and it’s important to note that the new traveling privileges will only apply to Americans who are vaccinated with the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines (other vaccines will not be accepted). Being fully vaccinated means two weeks have passed since you’ve received both doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or two weeks since your one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

For those who are fully vaccinated and looking forward to Europe, we made a list of a few questions you’ll want answered before crossing the Atlantic.

Where can I go if I’m vaccinated?

The European Union is made up of 27 countries, and all of them will open borders to vaccinated Americans once the new criteria is formally accepted by the countries (it hasn’t yet been as of this writing). Some individual EU countries, including Greece, Ireland and Italy, have already started to accept American travelers who arrive on a COVID-tested flight (Italy) or prove they’ve been vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19 (Ireland or Greece). 

Americans are also currently allowed to travel to the United Kingdom, which formally split from the European Union last year, though leisure travel is still discouraged and will require a negative COVID-19 test, as well as quarantine. To see if the country you’re interested in visiting is accepting tourists from the US, use this page from the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Can I travel to Europe if I’m not vaccinated? 

People who are not vaccinated may travel to some countries, as long as they provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test and adhere to the country’s quarantine and COVID-19 regulations, but the newest EU travel rules will only apply to Americans who have proof of vaccination. In general, the CDC advises against travel until you are fully vaccinated. 


If you’re fully vaccinated and decide to travel this summer, you must continue to follow COVID-19 testing regulations, mask rules and other health guidelines put in place by your destination. 


What about cruises? 

If you want to cruise through Europe, you can take the Norwegian Cruise Line if you’re fully vaccinated and are okay with the cruise line testing you for COVID-19 before boarding. According to the company’s website, the COVID-19 test will be free to guests, and the cruise line may require additional tests throughout the journey. The current regulations will be in place for cruises that sail up to Oct. 31, 2021, or until no longer necessary. 

Other cruise lines are gearing up by setting COVID-19 vaccine requirements for passengers. Celebrity Cruises, Azamara, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Silversea, Victory Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises, Oceania and other cruise lines will require passengers be fully vaccinated before boarding this summer. 

Is it safe to travel right now?

If you’re vaccinated, yes, for the most part. You should weigh your personal risks and consider who in your household may be most affected. Those who are immunocompromised are not as protected when vaccinated, for example, and no vaccine is 100% effective. Additionally, children under age 12 can’t get vaccinated yet.

According to the CDC, all air passengers returning to the US from another country must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than three days before returning, and then test once more three to five days after returning home. Before traveling, you should consider the current prevalence of COVID-19 in your chosen country.

How will I prove I’m vaccinated?

As of now, the only way to prove to an airline or anyone asking is to display the card you received after getting your COVID-19 vaccine, which carries the CDC logo and all appropriate information. You also may have been emailed or texted your proof of vaccination. 

COVID-19 “passports” are an evolving concept, but will likely be necessary for European travel this summer, likely in app form. Check out this guide to COVID-19 passports to learn more about their future.  

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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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