Since March 1, EU member states are supposed to have relaxed their rules for entries from third countries.

UM – 03/2022

The European Union (EU) wants to make international travel easier. The changed pandemic situation as well as the progressive vaccination successes, must be taken into consideration. This is why the council has updated its recommendations about non-essential travel from third countries. This is mainly in line with a proposal made by the European Comission (EC) on November 25 of the previous year. 

Travel regulations within the EU are to be harmonised

Currently, some EU countries allow relatively unrestricted travel from countries outside the EU, whereas others - such as Italy and the Netherlands - do not allow entry from specific non-EU countries or else they impose conditions such as testing or quarantine requirements. The council's recommendation aimed at finding a common line here so that travel rules for non-EU countries are more closely aligned with those that apply within the EU. However, they are not obligatory. Therefore, the following still applies: the applicable regulations of the country of entry should always be checked before travelling to the EU.

On one hand the updated council recommendations also address the pandemic situation in the third country. In order to lift restrictions on travellers from certain countries, the 14-day incidence threshold for COVID-19 cases has been increased from 75 to 100 residents and the weekly testing rate has been increased from 300 to 600 residents, both per 100,000 residents. This will make inclusion in the regularly updated European list that identifies those countries for which the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU is to be lifted easier.

Vaccinated, recovered, tested

On the other hand, reference is made to the individual status of the person concerned. No restrictions should apply if a person has been vaccinated with an EU or WHO recommended vaccine for at least 14 days and no more than 270 days prior to entry. This also applies to people who have received a vaccine produced in India or China. However, they could also face other precautions such as a PCR test or quarantine upon entry.

Anyone with a booster vaccination should not be subject to restrictions and neither should those who have recovered from COVID-19 within 180 days prior to travelling to the EU. The same rules should apply to children between the ages of 6 and 18. If they have not been vaccinated, then a negative PCR test not older than 72 hours should allow entry. However, member states might still impose other post-arrival measures (testing, quarantine, isolation).

Recommendation for EU certificate

The recommendations are only intended to be transitional. The prospective aim is to move entirely to a person-centred approach after higher vaccination rates have been realised. The EC actually wanted to achieve this by March 1 and then abolish the country list. It will now review the recommendation before April 30. However, countries have been recommended to use the EU's COVID digital certificate or an equivalent certificate from a third country. It amended its own travel regulations under a delegated act on Feb. 22 to allow EU governments to issue recovery certificates in the EU's COVID digital certificate, which is based on certain rapid antigen tests instead of a PCR test (see the Common List of COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Tests for more information).