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What the new EU border recommendations mean for travelers

The European Union agreed on Monday to open its borders to a list of 15 countries on July 1st, which have reciprocal deals with the EU and are considered safe due to their epidemiological situation. Here's a helpful breakdown from CNN on the new EU external border recommendations, set to take effect on July 1st:

Which countries are on the list?
The list of countries included in the recommendations are: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay. China, where the virus originated, is not on the initial list of 14, but the EU is willing to place it on that list if the Chinese government reciprocates and allows EU citizens to enter its borders.

If your country isn't on the list, are you officially banned from entering the EU?
Officially, no. The European Union does not have the control of any member state's national borders. However, it is not expected that any country will deviate from the recommendations towards allowing in a larger group of nations and are more likely to restrict travel from countries on the list.

If your country isn't on the list, but you're a resident of a country that is on the list, can you still travel to the EU?
According to the guidance, "residence in a third country for which the restrictions on nonessential travel have been lifted should be the determining factor (and not nationality)."

Can you travel via another country to get around rules?
No, for the same reason as above. You will be judged by your place of residence, rather than where you are traveling from.

Will this be enforced by airlines and airports?
The EU council stressed that "member states remain responsible for implementing the content of the recommendation," meaning this will vary from country to country. The best thing to do hear is contact your national foreign office or embassy in the country you want to travel to.

How flexible are the recommendations?
This really depends on how you read it. The criteria and recommendations for implementation are very clear, but there is an annex in the recommendations which covers travelers with "an essential function or need". These include everything from seasonal agricultural workers to diplomats. If you want to check for yourself, scroll to page 10 of this document

When will the list be updated?
The list expected to be reviewed every two weeks, however EU diplomats stressed to CNN that the criteria and methodology are "extremely unlikely" to change. This means that in order for a country to be deemed safe, its reported Covid figures need to be below that of the EU's for the past 14 days.

How will this affect travelers from the UK?
Travelers from the UK are included in what the EU refers to as its "EU+ area," and will be included if the UK's governments decides it wants to align. The "EU+ area" includes all member states of its so-called Schengen visa area (including Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania), as well as the four Schengen Associated States. It also includes Ireland and the United Kingdom if they decide to align.

Are there any exemptions?
Travelers in countries that did not make the list can still enter if they fall under the following exemptions: EU citizens or family members of an EU citizen; long-term EU residents or family members; those with an "essential function or need," such as diplomats, healthcare workers or certain agricultural workers.


full EU document:

Posted by
2275 posts

PS: Please do not turn this topic into a personal forum for views on COVID-19. A few of my topics have been taken down recently because 2-3 forum members decided to post long meandering manifestos, that were not travel related.

Posted by
190 posts

This is helpful Carlos! Answers a question I had about whether I, as an American citizen residing in the UK, can enter the EU.

Posted by
2275 posts

Your welcome Margaret, this is the most clear and helpful article I could find on the topic. It's nice how they break it down into practical questions.

Posted by
20 posts

I heard about this on the news this morning. Apparently the EU is expecting countries to reciprocate but the Canadian government has said the border is going to remain closed so I don't know if Canada will remain on the list.

I'm not sure how many foreign tourists would actually visit Europe because some countries have travel advisories and mandatory quarantine on return. For example, the Canadian government has a global travel advisory to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada, which will likely make it difficult, if not impossible, to obtain travel insurance. Also, the Canadian government is requiring all international arrivals to quarantine for 14 days.

I had plans to go to Europe this spring but I'm not going this year even with the EU now allowing travel. I don't want to go through a 14 day quarantine and I don't know if I could get travel insurance.

Posted by
624 posts

Thank you for providing this information. I reside in the US but have dual passports US/UK. I was wondering if that meant as a UK passport holder I could enter the UK this year to visit family. I canceled my big European trip back in March/April but then I recently had thoughts about going just to the UK. (I have the next 6 weeks off before school starts back). But, to be honest, with all the measures still in place in the UK, I will just not visit this year and hope next year things will be better.

Posted by
6705 posts

Hi Carlos, thanks for your helpful and clear posting of the article converted to this format.

It might be a good idea before the first sentence to say what “the list” means — I.e. to state that these are the countries whose travelers the EU has decided it can admit as of July 1.

Posted by
2275 posts

Thanks Kim! I have edited accordingly, I was running out of room haha :)

Posted by
2916 posts

This means that in order for a country to be deemed safe, its reported Covid figures need to be below that of the EU's for the past 14 days.

Based on figures I saw earlier today, this may mean that it could be quite awhile before the EU opens up to the US.

Posted by
111 posts

Germany has released its list of third-country residents who will be allowed to travel to Germany right now. (I could not find this in English anywhere yet, but will add if I find it).

It is a more narrow list than the EU "Safe Countries" list, with residents in Serbia, Morocco, Rwanda and Algeria not currently allowed into Germany unless they fall under the exceptions.

Posted by
5366 posts

Interesting reading through the requirements and the methodology used to establish a list. It seems very well thought out, a nice mix of science and diplomacy, a refreshing alternative to "Policy by Tweet".

For mpaulyn: Keep in mind these are Schengen/EU guidelines and requirements, the UK has their own set of limitations put in place, including a 14 Day Quarantine, which would not be with your family, unless they are willing to lockdown for the 14 days with you.

Posted by
1144 posts

Promising news for us Canadians. Our flight to Germany is set for mid September, though I won’t book any accommodations until close to the date. It can all change at the drop of a hat, of course, but here’s to hoping.

Posted by
1915 posts

Gundersen, here's a report I found yesterday of things to consider before we start traveling again. Obvious things like health insurance, but also that Canada will no longer be doing any repatriation flights, so if a 2nd wave hits, you could be stuck. I still haven't cancelled my trip to England for September; I was hoping WestJet would cancel first. So much to think about-including watching England carefully for significant signs of recovery.

Posted by
1144 posts

"I was hoping WestJet would cancel first.". - I can understand that, Allan, whether to England or anywhere else. If Westjet or Air Canada flights are a go, I doubt one will still be able to change flight dates by personal decision for regular tickets. As an aside, we almost decided on England this year but Germany pulled at my wife again, which suprised me. One of my brothers married an English girl in the eighties and lives in the Leicestershire countryside. He's retired now and only steps foot outside for groceries.

The missus and I have been of the mind that if Canada allows us to fly, and the destination country allows us to roam freely upon arrival, then we are willing to travel. We are also hoping to visit Austria, though not sure how easy the border crossing will be. Medical insurance was purchased at roughly the same the time as the flight tickets (January), well before policy talk of medical exclusions. Any half decent lawyer should win that one, if the case arises.

Regarding quarantine on return. My wife is retired, I'm self-employed and have been for most of my life. I'm dipping into my savings way more than usual this year and am psychlogically treating this year as a sabbatical, which makes me sound half-intelligent. Plus, I received a fair bit of dosh in April for work I did in the fall of last year. Another plus, this spring I divided some perennials for the first time and transplanted a couple of shrubs. In May, my wife taught me how to use the vacuum - send me a PM if you want to know how to turn on the switch .

Posted by
6705 posts

Thanks Carlos, that is just the cherry on top of your post!