What the EU’s new guidance on vaccinations means for you holiday



According to the European Council’s new travel blueprint, fully vaccinated Britons should not be required to undergo a pre-departure screening. 

This guidance also allows under-18s to travel to EU countries with a negative predeparture PCR test.

Each member state of the EU can decide its own rules. Italy will ease restrictions on non-EU travelers starting March 1. This means that a certificate of vaccination with the most recent dose no later than 270 days prior to arrival, a recovery or negative test result, and a certificate of vaccination must be accepted for entry.

France and other countries have already eliminated the requirement for travellers to be fully vaccinated. For example, all travelers to Cyprus must take a test even if they are fully jabbed.

Families planning Easter holidays will be delighted to see a set of common rules that allow them to travel anywhere in the EU.

As things stand now, some countries allow vaccinated tourists without having to take a test. However, others require one. Unvaccinated teenagers from Britain are not accepted by some countries, while others will accept them without a test. Some EU countries accept proof of recovery certificates from the UK, while others do not. Others require UK residents to have had at least three Covid jabs. Other countries welcome those who don’t have any.

The European Commission issued new guidance on February 22nd that aimed to improve consistency for non-EU travelers visiting EU member countries.

Its recommendations include:

  • Travellers who have been fully vaccinated and have not had to take Covid medication should be allowed into the country.
  • Children aged six years and older should travel only if they meet the same requirements as adults, or have had a negative PCR test at least 72 hours prior to departure.
  • Children below six years of age do not have to pass any tests or be subject to additional requirements.

The recommendations seem to offer greater clarity for EU visitors. Two jabs should be sufficient to allow entry for at most nine months. All others should be able travel with a negative result or proof of recovery. 

However, reality is very different. This is simply guidance – each country is free to set its own rules. A number of countries have tightened their vaccine-related entry requirements. While things should improve over the next few months, travellers shouldn’t expect uniformity across the EU.

We answer additional questions regarding the most recent EU recommendations.

Is the NHS Covid Pass equivalent to the EU Digital Covid Certificate 

No, but the two have been linked so that all EU nations should recognise the UK’s proof of vaccination for entry to the country and to access venues where a Covid passport is required. The EU’s version is proof of one of the following: 

  • Have you been vaccinated against Covid-19?
  • Received a negative result from a test
  • Covid-19: Recovered

The NHS digital Covid pass includes proof of recovery from Covid. This can only be used to return to the UK. A private Covid test cannot be registered for travel via the NHS app. The app displays a booster jab five days after the user has received it. 

Does this mean no tests if you’re fully vaccinated? 

The theory is that it should. However, some countries may require that a test be performed in lieu of or in addition to proof of full vaccination. At the airport, Cyprus requires that all children over 12 years old take a PCR test. 

If you are not fully vaccinated, will a negative test suffice?

In many cases, no. Some EU countries accept negative tests for entry, including Portugal, Greece, Croatia, Ireland and Slovenia.

Which countries are in need of a booster?

Many countries have followed the EU guidelines on vaccine pass validity for nine months. Others have set a shorter period. 

There are several countries that have set a time limit for entry, such as the Netherlands, France and Italy.

Check out our country-by–country guide for more information about vaccine validity in individual EU countries.

Is it possible to use proof of recovery for entry? 

Yes, but only for certain destinations. You can see our guide on how to prove that you have recovered from Covid to be able to travel.

Check out our country-by–country guide for more information about vaccine validity in individual EU countries.

How long will the EU need to have vaccine certificates before they allow entry? 

The regulation on EU Digital Covid Certificate will be in effect for 12 month starting July 2021. Three months prior to the expiration of the regulation’s application, the Commission will submit a report for the European Parliament. 

Is it affecting paperwork to travel to EU countries? 

No. The passenger locator, entry, or health forms from specific member countries do not have to be linked to the EU Digital Covid Certificate. Most countries require that you fill out paperwork prior to arrival. This includes details about where you plan on staying, your travel history, and/or your vaccine or test status.

Who can use the NHS Covid Pass to travel? 

Adults and children 12 years old or older can access the digital version through the NHS app. The NHS Covid Pass letter offers an alternative. This must be requested, and can take up seven working days for it to arrive. 

Proof of recovery – which some countries permit for entry as an alternative to full vaccination, or in place of a recent jab – is only available via the digital version of the Covid pass. 

The UK Government has also approved vaccination for children between 5 and 11 years of age, though they are not yet able to access the digital NHS Covid Pass.

What EU countries have Covid passports within their borders? 

Austria, Belgium France, Germany Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal (in Madeira, the Azores), Slovenia, Spain 

What EU countries have tough entry rules or are closed to teenagers? 

Austria, Belgium, France, Germany.

Where can I find rules for specific EU countries? 

Telegraph Travel offers a guide on how to obtain a Covid passport for many EU countries. Before booking a trip, and before you travel, it is advisable to consult the Foreign Office advice pages for your destination. 

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