Planning holidays has been tough over the last 18 months. Due to uncertainty over Brexit or COVID-19 restrictions it has been difficult to organise an escape to the sun. However, the good news is there are a lot of places that you can visit in Europe right now and even more opening up for tourism.
In this article we explain everything you need to know to get your holiday plans in gear for a trip to Europe and whether you'll need any special authorizations such as the soon-to-launch ETIAS visa waiver for the EU.
As you'll see, there are lots of places in Europe you can head right now where there's no quarantine and very few extra restrictions to worry about.
Most European countries have some COVID restrictions at their borders. However, an increasing number are making it simpler for vaccinated tourists to enter without being subject to quarantine.
In a lot of cases, you'll be able to enter your chosen destination with just a negative PCR test or, in some cases, with just a valid proof of vaccination. This is made even easier by the fact that British tourists can use the NHS COVID pass to quickly show your vaccine record.
At the moment, the EU and Schengen countries that are allowing vaccinated British travellers to visit without quarantine include:
Whilst, the other European countries that currently allow vaccinated British travellers to enter, are:
Be aware however, that each country maintains its own unique border controls to combat COVID. It is important to check the precise requirements of your chosen destination before travelling.
The UK currently uses a traffic light system to access the risk of new variants entering the country via travel.
If a country is on the green list, tourists only need to take a PCR test 72 hours before travelling home and again within 48 hours of their return to Britain or Northern Ireland. Both must come back negative.
However, you will need to isolate for if you visit a country on the amber or red list, and you are not vaccinated. In the case of the red list, you will need to enter mandatory hotel quarantine for the duration whether you are vaccinated or not.
Therefore, it's crucial to check that the country you want to visit isn't on one of the more restrictive lists before making plans to travel.
At the moment the EU usually only consider travellers vaccinated if they have had shots approved by the European Medical Agency (EMA).
This shouldn't be a problem for British travellers, however, as this is broadly the same as those approved by The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The EU and UK both recognize visitors as fully vaccinated as long as they've had the required dose(s) of the following vaccines:
● Janssen (Johnson and Johnson)
● Pfizer BioNtech
The good news for tourists is not a lot has changed because of Brexit. Right now, the EU and UK still allow each other's citizens to visit for tourism for a few weeks at a time without a visa.
However, things will change in 2023. ETIAS a brand-new electronic border security system will launch and third country nationals from countries such as the UK, US and Canada will need to get an electronic visa waiver before arriving in the EU.
That said, there are a few new rules that affect British travellers after Brexit that you'll have to be aware of before getting to an EU destination like Spain or Greece.
First of all, you need to check that your British passport has at least 6 months validity remaining before you travel. You'll also need to make sure that the document's issue date isn't over 10 years ago. Otherwise, your passport might not be considered valid by the European authorities.
Now that Britain has left the EU, UK tourists can no longer apply to use the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) when travelling. However, a new scheme the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) has been introduced by the UK government.
You can use the GHIC to access essential medical care in:
● EU member countries
Alternatively, make sure you have a suitable travel insurance policy that covers the people in your party and the activities you have planned.
Aside from your passport, you may be asked for other documents at the border by national and EU security authorities. It is possible that travellers from the UK could be asked to provide:
● Proof of onward travel
● Evidence of sufficient funds for their trip
After many months of uncertainty, a lot of European countries are opening up to tourism once again. Whilst there are still differences in the way that travel works compared to how it did prior to 2020, there are increasingly fewer restrictions to worry about when you get away this summer.