Please sign in to post.

Red Tape for Vaccinated Travelers

With Europe opening up to vaccinated travelers, what entry requirements and other red tape have you experienced? (Posting on behalf of Rick Steves)

Posted by
9729 posts

As someone with the right to enter France even during Covid-19, we went for several months last year. The requirement was, and still is, PCR test and results within 72 hours of departure. We had to use a mail-order test via FedEx since all local labs were overwhelmed. To return to the US, we had an antigen test at the CDG airport before checking in, which was and still is the US requirement. Appointments necessary and can be obtained on line.
This year with full vaccination being a criteria for entry, I'm waiting to see if proof of vaccination will be sufficient. If not, the local testing situation has improved to the point where we think we can get PCR results within the 72 hour limit.

Posted by
2 posts

I am visiting Italy for business. I was able to avoid quarantine on arrival by taking a Delta Covid-tested flight. PCR test at home, rapid test at ATL, and rapid test on arrival at FCO. However they are strict about who is allowed in, and you need to fill out forms upon departure & upon arrival to certify your reason for travel (leisure travel or visiting friends or relatives is not permitted). I also needed to fill out a European dPLF (digital passenger locator form) prior to departure. Delta seems to have clear instructions for each country if you can find the page on their website.

Posted by
6781 posts

James E. mentions “no difference in quarantine or travel restrictions,” but I wonder whether mask requirements, limited seating inside or outside of restaurants, open museums but with shorter hours or maximum occupancy levels exist? Vaccinations may get you to your destination, but I wonder what “new normal” is present, until the “old normal” eventually resumes (if, and when, it does).

Posted by
2591 posts

Well I’m assuming mask restrictions are going to be around until a lot more people become responsible adults and get shots. I realize in other countries it’s vaccine availability but in the United States it’s another problem. So we’re going have to wear a mask for several years. Honestly, even if it’s not required I will probably wearing an N 95 a lot. I really don’t want to risk getting Covid (which you can do after shot ) from the non vaccinated.

And honestly if something like this causes the Catholic Church not to over sell the Vatican Museum to the point where you can’t actually see the art or the Louvre to limit the must have a selfie in front of Mona Lisa crowd, that might actually be a positive outcome

So will it be the same as it was in 2019, no. Is that necessarily horrible, just depends

Posted by
8077 posts

Carol, I just enjoyed my first winter as an adult without even one case of sore throat, flu, cold, sinusitis, bronchitis, or bad breath. So there's something to be said for continued masking.

Posted by
8942 posts

For France, please see what the French government announced this morning as to its "re-opening" for American tourists as of June 9:

Long story short: even if France accepts the CDC card as proof of vaccination (which so far I haven't been able to find), vaccinated persons must still have a newer-than-72-hours negative PCR test or newer-than-48 hours antigen test to board a flight for France from the United States.

Posted by
748 posts

But the negative Covid test is required only because we happen to be in the Amber category - if we move to Green, which we should be headed to, then no Covid test would be required for fully vaxxed pax.

Posted by
8077 posts

Anybody know or hear of someone who tested positive while under quarantine?

Posted by
24881 posts

It has happened in Australia. Most recently someone served the entire quarantine period, traveled to another city and tested positive five (I think) days later. Not every incubation period is the same length.

Posted by
6781 posts

It would seem, then (depending on location) that multiple tests will be required for some time, once leisure vacationers are permitted. Vaccinations are nice, but not an automatic entry allowance right now? And apparently the UK is imposing mandatory quarantine right now, even for vaccinated Americans, and that still required multiple test, before, during, and after. Lots of hurdles and extra time and money spent before you’re really allowed “in.”

Posted by
308 posts

@acraven. You are correct.

A brief synopsis. Citizens on a special charter flight from India were sent to 14 days quarantine in an Adelaide hotel. The person in question returned from India without infection. It appears that he acquired the Kappa strain via vapour transmission on the last day or so in quarantine, so did not trigger the test and was allowed to return to Melbourne. Felt unwell and went for testing a few days later. The city of Melbourne has been locked down since 27th May and will probably continue for another 7 days. I flew home on the 26th, lucky me. My wife decided to stay in Melbourne with the grandchildren for a further couple of days, and so is confined for now, lucky me. Extended break makes the reunion extra sweet.

@stan. Yes, several people are being detected in quarantine at capital city facilities and sent to special purpose facilities or hospitals. Last week, in Adelaide, an infant boy was detected and hospitalised for a few days. Reported as now released from hospital.

For the first time sequencing has detected a Melbourne family, in the community, with the Delta (the current strain spreading in the UK) variant with no clear source of infection. Has motivated Victorians to line up for the brain tickler test and vaccination jab.

Just in. Saturday morning, Victoria reports 5 community transmission cases in Melbourne and 1 quarantine case. Have yet to publish which strains.


Posted by
34 posts

Just reread restrictions on int'l travel on the CDC website. I hope I am interpreting this correctly: (look for the "or") yes, testing prior to travel/reentry OR a positive Covid 19 test with accompanying doctor's letter saying you are fully recovered and fit to travel. I'm thinking this might/could work in all situations where the 72 hour prior to travel test requirements are in place. Happy to hear of "best" sites with most updated information on travel requirements.

Posted by
311 posts

We're flying from SFO to Athens this Thursday, with a layover in Frankfurt. A few weeks ago, FRA was requiring negative tests for vaccinated travelers, including those with only a layover. That changed, and now we are able to travel to Athens without a test (showing proof of our vaccinations). However, we are still expecting to get a negative test for travel back into the U.S. We've researched test locations on Mykonos (where we will be within 72 hours of departure to the U.S.) and there are several places we can get the rapid test or the regular test.
To be honest, figuring out the drive/parking situation at SFO was more stressful than the travel test. We decided on parking our car at a hotel that undercuts the airport by half, AND provides a free shuttle to the airport. This is way easier than getting a friend/ubler/lyft/rental car for the 2.5 hours to get to SFO. Normally we'd fly out of SMF, but the tickets were soooo cheap out of SFO (RT $550), we decided the inconvenience was worth it.
Happy travels!

Posted by
10 posts

Hi Rick and Travelers: Over the last 2+ weeks, we scheduled a flight via Delta from Minneapolis to Zurich via Amsterdam. All seemed well until today when we realized we were required by the CDC in the United States to have a Covid-19 test completed at the airport in Zurich before our departure, even though we are fully and officially vaccinated in the USA. None of this pre-departure return trip requirement was even mentioned or highlighted on our Delta site BEFORE we purchased our ticket, so we were inherently aware of this extra onerous CDC requirement that was set in place as of January 28, 2021. Also, to get an official vaccine Covid test done in Switzerland 3 days or less before departure will cost us an additional close to $400 for 2, and the amount most likely will not be reimbursable by our United States healthcare plans. That is a big added cost to our trip. In response, I have two related questions:

  1. What is the CDC rationale/reasoning behind this added Covid test departure policy? Or, stated another way, I can fly freely around the USA domestically to and from any state - some of the most infected locals like Mississippi or Arkansas, etc, but I CANNOT travel, having been fully vaccinated, to any and all selected other countries in the world without having a pre-departure Covid test in advance of leaving that country for the United States. That approach seems to defy common sense, logic, and the stated effectiveness of most all Covid vaccines. Can anyone explain exactly WHY this requirement is still in place in July 2021?

  2. Why don't all major airlines, travel sites, travel magazines, etc. place a greater degree of focus/emphasis on this "extraordinary US return Covid test requirement, so all potential passengers will know this extra cost/requirement up front in advance of confirming any further plane or lodging reservations.

Hope to hear from Rick or others on why this requirement exists and what more our travel industry should be doing to make more people aware of its existence, as a possible detriment to increasing travel globally over the next several months.


Dale F. Weeks
Minneapolis, MN

Posted by
1929 posts

The United States Government, simply stated, wants to lessen the risk of importation of a variant that might be more contagious or deadlier that may beat our vaccines.

You can buy an antigen test kit for 70 to 100 dollars from pharmacies here in the US and or order online and take the kits with you to test via a zoom type process. Sorry that I don’t remember the names of the companies providing the test kits, but you can find info on the State Department and the CDC websites.
There are many posts in the last few days with links to specific test kits you can buy. See if you can read in the “All topics” section posts over the last 2 days. You’ll find links there or the names of the companies.
I bet the airlines have something about Covid requirements to return to the US some place on their website?
Sign up for information from the STEP ( Smart Traveler Enrollment Program). You will get updates about the countries you will be visiting.

Posted by
6781 posts

As an additional response to rei89dfw’s questions, I really doubt that Rock Steves himself will be posting on this particular thread. He does provide his personal take on assorted travel scenarios on this Website in his blog and Travel News.

My 2 cents worth is that the USA is applying the test requirement on all people entering the USA, foreign and citizens, vaccinated and without vaccination documentation. It’s a one-size-fits-all approach. With the Delta variant cases rising in the USA at the moment, the testing is one approach to help get a handle on things. If more Americans took foreign flights, maybe that would get more Americans to get vaccinated. In the meantime, tests are another travel expense for now.

Posted by
16022 posts

what entry requirements and other red tape have you experienced?

Ukraine: Had to purchase COVID health insurance for about $6. That and CDC card looked at in Kyiv Airport.

Turkey: had to fill out a questionnaire in advance and show my CDC card to get a boarding pass to go.

Croatia: Same as Turkey. CDC card looked at, not the paperwork.

Bosnia & Herzegovina: CDC card glanced at.

Montenegro: CDC card glanced at.

Greece: Had to fill out some paperwork. Will find out later today at the border.

After Greece, have to re-enter Turkey which will require another online form. Then a test a few days later prior to the trip home (Istanbul airport $35)

Nothing difficult so far. No issues. Entry requirements relaxed for Ukraine and unchanged for the other countries the past 45 days.

Except on public transportation, airports and planes; social distancing and masks rarely enforced (or required) in the places I have been so far. Everything open and no capacity restrictions that I noticed. Basically a typical trip so far.

Posted by
1076 posts

Even after we’ve been vaccinated, we’re still required to obtain a negative Covid test to return to the US. And even after we’ve received those results, which have to be verified prior to boarding the plane, we have to sign an attestation form that we have had the test performed and the results are negative. Talk about pointless redundancy and red tape.

Posted by
16022 posts

On one trip I got the test done in the Istanbul Airport, took less than 20 minutes from start to result; on the other trip I got the test done at a local Budapest clinic and again, took less than 20 minutes.

Less time than washing skivvies.

The attestation form was handed to me by the ticket agent in both instances; check a box, print a name, sign and date in all of about 45 seconds.

Compared to the two luggage checks and 4 passport checks in Istanbul, this was not an inconvenience at all.

But in 8 countries, only two have not accepted my vaccine card to enter: Hungary and the United States.

Posted by
19 posts

I found entry into Germany to be easy. Completed the digital entry form, and upload passport and proof of vaccination. The information and links were all provided in informational emails by Lufthansa starting a week before our flight. Negative test not required. Biggest stressor was testing negative to return to US. We carried the video observation self-tests and did it 48 hours prior to departure from our hotel room. Took less than 30 minutes. I would recommend carrying extra tests in case there are any glitches. Negative test was checked twice upon our departure from Germany, but never requested at customs in the US. In my opinion, the US needs to drop the negative test requirement for vaccinated travelers, similar to the German policy. There is also an attestation (that we tested negative) form for the CDC that I had printed and nobody ever asked for, and it wasn't even completed online. Like they are saving printed documents in 2021?! Silly. Streamline the process -- vaccinated OR test negative, not both.

Posted by
3 posts

So just to double check- the little paper CDC card that I got when I received my vaccines is sufficient to show proof of vaccination, even though there is no scannable QR code on it? And it's not digital, it's simply written in ink by the two nurses who gave me the vaccines. It would be great if this card were acceptable. And can anyone tell me what the american equivalent is for the EU Digital Covid Certificate? Without that card or an equivalent, one cannot enter museums and restaurants or other inside venues, in most EU countries. And the EU Digital Certificate cannot be issued to americans, only EU citizens. It's a real Catch 22.

Posted by
16022 posts

Without that card or an equivalent, one cannot enter museums and
restaurants or other inside venues, in most EU countries.

Three exceptions that come to mind are Hungary and Croatia and Greece. I suppose there are others. Forgetting the EU, and just considering Europe in General and I have visited 4 more exceptions. But sure it would be easier if we had a decent card. Apparently the French will accommodate that when visiting.

But good point.

Posted by
16022 posts

The EU has adopted a verifiable digital Covid Vaccination Certificate
standard; in Italy it’s called ‘Green Pass’ and for France it’s Pass
Sanitaire (Health Pass). ..... ; we're still relying on the flimsy and
easily faked CDC vaccine paper card.

  1. Am I correct in my understanding that to get a Pass Sanitaire what one does is send the French a photo of their CDC card and answer some questions?

  2. Speaking of CDC cards.... I got my booster shot yesterday. But I forgot my CDC Card. No problem, they put the booster on the third line of a clean card, then told me to copy the information from the first two lines off my original card (not doing it. will just carry both cards).

  3. When all of this began I was going to a country that had among their rules that the vaccine card had to have a passport number on it (they quickly dropped that requirement). To "attempt" to meet the requirement and not wanting to do what was instructed at note 2 above, I copied the front and back of the card and put the copy on a document that said something to the effect that, Mr. __________, identified by by presenting his passport, number _________, appeared before this date and presented the original of the CDC card shown above. The Copy above is a true and accurate copy of the original, etc. etc, etc..... Then notarized with an official looking seal. Then I carry all the clinic and pharmacy receipts for the vaccines as well.

  4. Or i guess you could send a photo of the CDC card to France as their Pass Sanitaire is accepted through out Europe (I think?).

Posted by
13833 posts

For France, besides what you stated, you have to send a copy of your transportation tickets in and out of France.

You actually have to be visiting France to get it.

Posted by
60 posts

I can report on a recent trip to the Czech Republic. Getting there was simple. Passenger locator form and CDC card was all that was needed. Coming home however was a different story. There has to be a test even for the vaccinated which makes one wonder why if the vaccines work? I spent 7 days there and the first 4 weren't much fun because of the worry of potentially testing positive. After getting the negative results I got to enjoy essentially 2 days of vacation. If you happen to be someone who is not retired or independently wealthy you might as well forget about traveling to Europe. It's not worth the risk of having to stay an extra 10 days in a quarantine hotel. This is all miserable and getting really really old.

Posted by
6806 posts

To be honest, even though I am vaccinated, I test before I board a flight, whether it is required or not. It is simply the responsible thing to do.

If the unlikely specter that you will test positive before return to the US, and the resulting quarantine, is too much risk, then by all means do not travel, it is that simple. It is the same risk as to whether you might suffer a pickpocket, lose your passport, or injure yourself while traveling. If the impact of those are a problem, stay home. To travel is to accept risk, more so right now.

Posted by
2 posts

Going to Paris Dec. 9th. Does anyone have experience recently with getting the pass sanitaire and how long it took to get from a participating Paris pharmacy? Thanks, Barbara

Posted by
1 posts

Hi Barbara, how did it go on Dec 9th? I hope your trip went well. I received my French health pass last September. I will be returning to Europe next April 2022. I have received notice that my pass will expire if I do not upload my booster but I do not know how to do so as our codes do not match their codes. Any ideas?

Thank you,

Posted by
24881 posts

In response to this question elsewhere on the forum, the answer has so far been that it seems you must start the process all over again and pay the fee. I haven't seen any link to an official website with this information, so it's possible it hasn't been documented on the internet yet.

Posted by
156 posts

Someone asked about recent experience with passe sanitaire in France.

We arrived on 12/13/2021. We went to the nearest local pharmacie that said they would convert our CDC card into a pass. (I found the location of these through the airline website. It was very easy to do (the pharmacist had a problem reading the date of our booster but accepted what we told them). We paid the fee and were out with our printed QR code in less than 15 minutes (this was in Bordeaux). We did not get asked for it all that much (McDonalds always asks!), it seemed very random who asked and why, but there is always the possibility that you will be asked.

I saw that someone says they are using theirs again. Do we know how long they are valid? I could not find that. For the person who wonders how to update theirs, I think you could possibly go to a pharmacie and ask them if they can update or know how.