The renewed Europe travel ban on the U.S. is causing lots of confusion for Americans at home, and those living overseas.
What rights do you have, or not, to travel now to or within Europe? Are there exceptions? And what about Americans already living or traveling overseas? Either in the 14 countries who already have the green light to travel to Europe, or in Europe itself.
Sure, the ban on entering the 30 European and Schengen countries as of July 1 continues indefinitely for most arrivals from the United States. But not all. There are more exemptions and leeway possible under the new recommendation.
It applies to those countries who applied the travel ban since March 17: All 27 EU members bar Ireland, and four who are members of Schengen but not the EU: Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Here are some answers to your questions:
1. To Who Does The Travel Ban Apply?
The EU recommends members extend the restrictions “on non-essential travel into the EU” for U.S. and other high-risk countries. This means holidays in Europe for most of those coming from America are still out of the question.
But the ban is based on residency not citizenship. Someone arriving from the U.S. who has EU citizenship or residency–or residency in one of the safe countries–can enter. (China being the potential 15th on the list, if it in turn welcomes Europeans).
Note, it still remains to be seen how all EU countries implement the recommendations. And, bear in mind, that the U.S. travel advisory still urges American citizens who are currently living overseas to “avoid all international travel”. Insurance could be a problem if you do.
The Europe ban will be reviewed in a fortnight. So more countries may be added to the list.
2. Are There Exceptions To The Rules?
For countries such as the U.S. where the travel restrictions still apply, the EU recommends the following people should be exempted.
The most significant change here compared to the previous rules is that students and highly qualified workers have been added to the list of third country nationals who should now be able to enter the EU from banned countries.
- EU citizens and their family members
- Long-term EU residents and their family members
- Travelers with an essential function or need, as listed in the “recommendation”.
- Each country will implement this in different ways. Such as who exactly is welcome, plus entry documents to fill out and negative Covid-19 tests.
- Denmark for example is already indicating that those resident in banned countries can also come in to attend business meetings, and “to perform services or transport goods in”. As can partners, lovers and au pairs.
3. What About Americans Who Are A Resident Or Traveler In One Of The Safe List Countries?
As mentioned above, the new guidelines mean an American residing permanently in one of the safe countries such as South Korea, Japan or New Zealand should be welcome in the EU, together with immediate family members. An American tourist or long-term traveler in those countries will not.
As the American Embassy in Athens for example notes: “Your residence not your passport determines whether you can enter the EU. If you reside in the EU or one of the 14 countries, you may enter Greece. The Greek authorities have not detailed the requirements for proving residence.”
Forget any imagined loopholes of arriving from one of the safe list countries it adds: “You may not travel from the United States to a country on the list to get around the travel restrictions.”
4. What About Americans Who Are Already Living In The EU?
The EU is recommending that members exempt third country nationals who are resident in the EU (together with their family members), from the ban. So this would include any American residing in the European countries concerned. Your only limitation here for Europe travel within the Schengen zone will be countries who are yet to fully open borders to Europeans. But like other European travelers you should be able to take a plane, or arrive by car, in one of the “open border” countries.
5. What About Americans Who Are Currently Traveling In The EU/Schengen Zone Or The UK But Who Are Not EU Residents?
Again, the recommendation makes no allowances for non-resident third party nationals in Europe to be able to travel freely. Even those who have been sheltering, or stuck, in Europe for weeks or months during Covid.
Let’s take Denmark as an example.
“The country of residency is the most important,” confirms a spokesperson for Visit Denmark. “So, an American tourist who has been in France or Spain would not be allowed into Denmark, if they cannot document that they are residents of that country rather than of the U.S.”
Which is why it will be vital to carry travel documents with you, she says. “It is therefore important that American citizens with residency in an open-border country in Europe bring documentation of their residency when entering Denmark.
The same rules are likely to apply for U.K. arrivals in the EU. For those whose borders are open to Brits, only citizens and permanent residents will probably be allowed in.