Lifestyle & Culture

Jackie Harding: Nations across Europe adopting vaccine passports, dropping quarantines

(Editor’s note: This list of travel rules and vaccine passports will be updated. This post contains information curated from official national websites, CNN, the Evening Standard, the Guardian, the Voice of America and Forbes. Terry Boyd also contributed to this post.)

Is that a faint glimmer of light I see at the end of the endlessly long, dark COVID-19 tunnel we’re in?

Several nations, desperate to reignite their declining tourism sectors, are considering allowing travellers to enter the country without quarantining, provided they have proof of vaccination from their home countries. To qualify for entry, the traveller must have completed the vaccination course at least two weeks before travel.

Also, momentum is growing across Europe for “vaccination passports.”

Though French and German officials appear to be skeptical, many countries are keen to start a vaccination passport scheme both at home and globally. Greece and Israel plan to allow vaccinated people to travel freely between the two countries once international flights resume.While there are still no international registries, standards or protocols for vaccine passports, digital or otherwise, a number of entities are working to change that.

The Common Project and the World Economic Forum are working on a CommonPass framework. You can see the details here.

For the moment, many countries will still require travellers to have a PCR test both 72 hours before travel and upon arrival.

The vaccination certificate must be in English or the language of the country being visited, and contain information about:

• where the vaccine was administered

• which vaccine was given

• the issuer of the vaccine

• the batch number

Most countries require travelers have both doses before entry.

Of course, for the time being, travelers from countries with high infection rates may not be welcome even with proof of vaccination. Check the official government websites before you travel.

So, we’ve put together lists aggregated from media outlets including information from the official country travel websites.

These countries have, or are planning to have and recognize, vaccine passports:

Estonia: Estonian officials are working with the World Health Organization to create standardized electronic vaccination certification that could become the “gold standard” on the way to global adoption of vaccine passports, according to the Voice of America.

Greece, Cyprus and Israel: In mid-February, the group agreed to allow each country’s citizens with COVID-19 vaccination certificates to travel without restrictions between the three countries, according to the Guardian. The agreement goes into effect 1 April.

Greece and the United Kingdom: Greek officials are also meeting with British officials about the possibility of creating a vaccination certificate and a travel corridor as approximately 4 million Brits visit Greece each summer, according to the Evening Standard.

Iceland: In January, Iceland became the first country in Europe to issue COVID-19 vaccination certificates and accept them when other countries adopt the policy. Iceland is projected to have vaccinated most of its 357,000 citizens by mid-Summer.

Denmark: Denmark has announced plans to introduce a digital vaccine passport by the end of February.

Spain: Spanish officials see vaccine passports combined with pre-travel COVID-19 testing as the way to allow British tourists to return, a tourism ministry source told Reuters in mid-February.

Sweden: Sweden plans to have a digital vaccine passport by summer if international standards are in place, according to the Guardian and MarketWatch.

These countries allow entry with proof of vaccination:

Most EU countries allow EU citizens to enter with either a negative COVID-19 test or proof of a vaccination.

Cyprus: In December, Cyprus became the first country to allow travelers who’ve been fully vaccinated to enter without having to go into quarantine, according to CNN. As of March 1, EU citizens can enter Cyprus with a vaccination certificate, though it depends on categorization of country you’re arriving from.

Estonia: Estonia requires a vaccination certificate (only accepted if in English, Estonian or Russian language) or if you can show proof you’ve had COVID-19 within past six months.

*This does not apply to travelers arriving from the United States.

Iceland: Starting 1 May, Iceland allows entry to travelers from the EU and the Schengen Area with vaccination certificate or proof you’ve had COVID-19 within the past six months. You can read the details here.

Romania: To avoid quarantine, Romania requires a vaccination certificate. Vaccinations must be at least 10 days before travel or you need proof you’ve had COVID-19 within the past 6 months.

*This does not apply to travelers arriving from the U.S.

Seychelles: The Seychelles requires proof of a final dose of vaccine two weeks before arrival along with a negative PCR test administered within 72 hours of travel.

These countries are considering vaccination schemes

The country’s tourism officials and business executives are pressuring Thai officials to consider a vaccination scheme.

Australian officials have announced a digital vaccination certificate will be issued for all those vaccinated – with its Federal Minister for Government Services saying it’s “highly likely” proof of vaccination will be required to enter the country. Australia is just beginning vaccinations in mid-February.

This is an optimistic sign in these gloomy days and, with the vaccination programs kicking off in so many nations, there is hope that, although life will still not go back to “normal” for some time, we may start to see opportunities to resume travel plans.

My bags are packed!

About the author:

Photographer/writer Jackie Harding was born in the United Kingdom. As a long-time expat, she lived in Boston for 12 years and in the Netherlands for the past 10 years.

Trained as a nurse in the U.K., she worked for nine years in the United States as a special education teacher’s assistant. Since moving to the Netherlands, she has discovered writing and photography.

Contributing to Dispatches since 2016, Jackie has written about her travels around Europe as well as about expat life and issues.

She also covered the Women’s March Amsterdam.

She’s married to British businessman Martin Harding and is the mother of two international adult children.

You can read more of Jackie’s work for Dispatches here.

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