With the coronavirus pandemic still disrupting travel around the world, countries and regions continue to impose entry bans and other restrictive measures on foreigners and even their own citizens. When it comes to the European Union at the moment (May 2021), Schengen area travel restrictions remain in place. A 26-state block of some of the most visited destinations in the world, most of the Schengen area continues to require a pre-flight, negative PCR test and impose other travel measures on travelers looking to enter the zone. Today’s blog will therefore provide the latest update on COVID-19 EU entry for non-citizens and residents. Read on to find out the last information on who can and cannot enter Europe, whether the Schengen area gives green light to COVID-19 travel certificates (also known as Digital Green Certificates) and for the most updated news on restrictions on travel from countries to the EU. 

Latest update on COVID-19 EU entry

  • At the moment, the majority of the Schengen area continues to maintain a ban on all non-essential traveler from certain countries. 
  • In general, non-essential travel to the Schengen area is reserved exclusively for people from the following countries: Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and China. However, while these exceptions apply to the Schengen area generally, it is up to the individual countries to decide which countries and travelers are subject to entry restrictions. 
  • If you are thinking of traveling to the Schengen area, make sure that you will be allowed into the specific country you seek to enter based on your purpose of travel, nationality/residency, and country of departure.  
  • Additionally, most foreigners (and many citizens and residents) who seek to enter the Schengen area can only do so if the present a negative COVID-19 test prior to embarking. 
  • Finally, most travelers who gain entry to the zone are subject to mandatory testing and quarantine periods in the aftermath of their arrival. 
  • Keep in mind that individual Schengen countries continue to have their own domestic restrictions in place that affect anyone living and transiting within their borders. These include curfews, internal travel bans, mask mandates, and other requirements meant to reduce the spread of the virus.   
  • Finally, while you may have seen headlines such as “the Schengen area gives green light to COVID-19 travel certificates!” Please note that the zone does not yet accept Digital Green Certificates (also known as COVID-19 passports) for entry. While reports indicate that the EU will adopt some sort of COVID-19 passports system to facilitate Schengen area safe travel (which will theoretically allow the entry to the zone of non-citizen/resident travelers) this system is not yet operational. This means that even if you are vaccinated for COVID-19 (and you have proof of it) you will almost certainly be subject to pre and post-entry requirements, including testing and even-entry bans. 

 Schengen area safe travel

  • The 26 Member States of the Schengen area are meant to coordinate policy so that entry/post-entry requirements are relatively uniform throughout the bloc. 
  • While the European Commission can make general recommendations to Member States about entry-conditions and travel bans, individual states maintain discretion as to how they can apply them. 
  • While country-specific travel requirements exist, ideally, the bloc should be united in how the most basic entry requirements are applied. 
  • For example, while different Schengen countries might have different requirements for how long a traveler has to quarantine post-arrival, the states are generally united in prohibiting most non-essential travel, banning the entry of nationals from certain countries, and requiring some form of negative COVID-19 test for entry. 
  • Since the pandemic began, the Schengen area has actively sought to uphold its principle of free movement for citizens and residents, even at it has moved aggressively to restrict the entry of foreigners and non-residents. This means that while travel to the Schengen area is restricted, travel throughout the zone is less so. 
  • Essentially, while entering the zone can be difficult for non-citizens and residents, once you gain access to any of the 26 Member States, you will likely be relatively unimpeded, should you choose to travel throughout Europe.

Country-specific Schengen area travel restrictions

The following is a summary of the requirements for entry to some of the most popular Schengen countries: 

  • Austria
    • Bans the entry of most-travelers from all non-EU countries, except those coming from the following states: Australia, Singapore, and South Korea—travelers from these countries will not face restrictions post-entry.
    • Ban on direct flights from Brazil, India, and South Africa. 
    • Ban on the entry of all travelers from the above states, with the exception of Austrian nationals. 
    • Most travelers are required to fill out a pre-travel clearance form for arrival. 
    • Subjects most travelers to a mandatory 10-day quarantine period post-arrival. 
  • Belgium
    • Prohibits non-essential travel for non-EU, non-Schengen residents who seek to enter Belgium. 
    • Permits the unrestricted entry of nationals/residents of the following countries. (who are arriving from the following countries): Australia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand. 
    • Non-EU/Schengen residents/nationals who are not arriving from one of the above countries will have to quarantine for 10 days in Belgium post-arrival (unless they are staying in Belgium for under 48 hrs). Those who receive a negative PCR test a week into quarantining can end their self-isolation.   
    • All travelers are required to complete a passenger locator form prior to departing for Belgium. 
  • Denmark 
    • With the exception of EU/Schengen residents who can show proof of having been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, all other travelers to Denmark are subject to post-arrival COVID-19 testing. 
    • Travelers from the following “yellow list’ countries can enter Denmark for non-essential reasons, provided they submit to pre and post entry COVID-19 testing: Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Israel, and Iceland. If your country is not one of the following, this means it is either on the “orange list” or “red list.”
    • Travelers from orange and red listed states can only enter Denmark for essential reasons. In addition to the above testing requirements, they must also undergo a mandatory 10-day quarantine period post-arrival. 
  • France
    • Bans all essential travel for travelers from non-EU/non-Schengen states, except those from the following: Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.
    • Requires a negative pre-departure (72 hrs before) PCR test for entry, and negative PCR test post-arrival (in order to avoid quarantine). 
    • Travelers from the following countries are subject to even more restrictive-pre and post-entry requirements: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, South Africa and India. 
    • While travelers from other countries can present a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before departing for France, travelers from the above states must take one within 36 hours, and ALSO present a (negative) antigen test 24 hrs before departure. Additionally, anyone who enters France from one of these countries is automatically subject to a seven-day quarantine.  
  • Germany 
    • Ban on all non-essential travel from non-EU, non-Schengen countries, excluding the following: Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand.
    • All travelers looking to enter Germany are required to submit a negative COVID-19 test 48 hrs prior to departing.  
    • If you are arriving from a country that Germany classifies as high risk, you will have to fill out a Digital Registration on Entry.   
    • Please note that different German Federal States have different rules and regulations post-arrival. Check what conditions apply to the state you plan on entering/residing in so that you remain in compliance throughout your stay. 
  • Italy 
    • General ban on touristic and other non-essential travel from non-EU/Schengen countries, with the exception of the following: Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore. 
    • Strict ban on the entry of anyone who has spent time in Brazil, Bangladesh, India,  and Sri Lanka within 14 days of seeking arrival in Italy (some exceptions apply). 
    • Most travelers (including those from other European states) must present a negative COVID-19 test (taken within 48 hrs of arrival), fill out an official form, and quarantine for 5-10 days (depending on where they are arriving from). 
  • The Netherlands 
    • Ban on all non-essential travel from non-Schengen/non-EU countries. 
    • All travelers must fill out a health form. 
    • All travelers (including those from the EU/Schengen area) and except those from the below exempted states, must test negative for COVID-19 prior to departing for the Netherlands, and also self-quarantine for a minimum of 10 days upon arrival. 
    • Exempted countries include Australia, Finland, Iceland, New Zealand, Portugal Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, China, and parts of Spain and Greece
    • Until May 15th: strict ban on international carriers flying directly from the following countries: India, South Africa, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela. 
  • Spain 
    • Bans all but essential travel for non-EU/non-Schengen travelers from all but the following states: Australia, China, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, Thailand and Uruguay.
    • All arriving passengers not from the above countries must present a negative PCR test, taken within 72 hrs of departing for Spain, in order to enter.
    • Strict ban on travelers from Brazil and South Africa. 
    • Travel measures for travelers from India include a mandatory quarantine period of 10 days post-entry.