If you’re considering taking a big vacation anytime soon, your options may be limited, especially if you’re planning to go anywhere in Europe. On Aug. 30, the European Council of the European Union, one of the governing bodies of the 27-member European Union, dropped the United States from its “safe list,” a list of countries that could travel to the E.U. with little to no restrictions. The U.S. had been on the E.U.’s safe list since June, but as COVID numbers across the U.S. began to rise with the spread of the Delta variant, the European Council recommended its member countries impose tighter entry restrictions to visitors from the U.S. The recommendation is non-binding, and it’s up to each country to decide whether they follow the recommendations, but many European nations decided to shore up their borders regardless. Read on to see which European countries are banning Americans who are traveling for non-essential reasons right now.
In a Sept. 2 press release, Sweden’s Ministry of Justice announced it would be peeling back entry for U.S. citizens as of Sept. 6, “based on information from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on the severely deteriorated epidemiological situation” in the country.
This means that U.S. travelers may no longer enter Sweden unless for essential travel reasons, even if they’re vaccinated. The ministry said the government of Sweden was considering whether to allow exemptions for vaccinated travelers from some countries, but would return to a decision “at a later date.”
Bulgaria classified the U.S. as a “red zone” country on Sept. 1 and banned non-essential travelers from the U.S. even if they’re vaccinated, according to the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria. “Under the Bulgarian Ministry of Health order, countries are classified as green, orange, or red zones based on their COVID-19 risk,” the embassy wrote. “That means persons arriving from the United States, regardless of their citizenship, are prohibited from entering Bulgaria unless they meet an exemption.” Exceptions include being a citizen of Bulgaria traveling from the U.S. or being an essential worker.
Norway similarly announced it would no longer permit visitors from the U.S. even if they’re vaccinated, “unless the traveler qualifies for a travel exception such as close family members and persons in an established relationship with a resident of Norway, or if they’re a student coming to Norway to begin a study program.” U.S. citizens who meet those qualifications and can travel to Norway should expect to quarantine for 10 days in a designated quarantine hotel at their own cost (which averages around $60 a night, according to the U.S. Embassy in Norway).
In late August, Italy announced that U.S. travelers must provide a negative COVID test result received no more than 72 hours before arrival and proof of vaccination to enter the country without quarantining. This switch went into effect on Aug. 31 and will be the protocol until at least Oct. 25. Italy is allowing unvaccinated travelers from the U.S. to enter, but they must quarantine for five days and present a negative COVID test result at the end of isolation, a requirement that applies to anyone six years old or older.
Before these new requirements went into effect last week, U.S. residents traveling to Italy had to show one of the following: proof of vaccination, proof of recovery, or a recent negative COVID test result.
Even before the European Union Council announcement on Aug. 30, several European nations put restrictions and entry requirements in place for those traveling from the U.S. For example, in mid-August, Germany announced that travelers from the U.S. must be vaccinated or face a 10-day quarantine upon arrival.
But others are now creating more requirements to keep their citizens safe. In early September, the Netherlands classified the U.S. as a high-risk area, which means travelers can only enter the Netherlands if they’re fully vaccinated and present a negative COVID test. Even then, travelers are required to quarantine for 10 days, though they can have that period shortened to five days if they are able to present a negative COVID test result.
No matter where you’re planning to travel to in Europe, you should check to make sure your vaccine is included among the E.U.’s approved vaccine list before you travel. Vaccines authorized for use in the E.U. include Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson.