Dispatches Europe https://dispatcheseurope.com Sat, 28 Nov 2020 11:22:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.3 https://dispatcheseurope.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/cropped-favicon-32x32.png Dispatches Europe https://dispatcheseurope.com 32 32 Sarah Nagaty in Lisbon: Saving the weekend without breaking curfew and risking your health (or anyone else’s) https://dispatcheseurope.com/sarah-nagaty-in-lisbon-saving-the-weekend-without-breaking-curfew-and-risking-your-health-or-anyone-elses/ https://dispatcheseurope.com/sarah-nagaty-in-lisbon-saving-the-weekend-without-breaking-curfew-and-risking-your-health-or-anyone-elses/#respond Fri, 27 Nov 2020 08:52:54 +0000 https://dispatcheseurope.com/?p=78381 The weekend is, for many people, the time they look forward to the most in dealing with the approaching winter blues, the daily stress of carrying out life under the pandemic and coping with economic challenges, which started last spring. The problem is, Portugal is increasing restrictions due to the recent rise in Covid-19 cases. […]

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The weekend is, for many people, the time they look forward to the most in dealing with the approaching winter blues, the daily stress of carrying out life under the pandemic and coping with economic challenges, which started last spring.

The problem is, Portugal is increasing restrictions due to the recent rise in Covid-19 cases. Another 15 days of state of emergency started on Tuesday 24 November and will end on 8 December with possibility of renewal.

But there is a way to save the weekend, without breaking the rules and without putting your health, or anyone else’s, at risk.

There are now 191 Portuguese municipalities which are considered at-risk and which have to conform to the new curfew restrictions. This covers a lot of municipalities, of course. However, two relatively isolated, amazing getaways are not included in those lists: Mértola and Marvão.


Mértola lies in the Alentejo region of Portugal near the Spanish border. It is located on a hill near the Guadiana river. It was an important political and commercial center during the Islamic period and is arguably one of Portugal’s towns with the most enduring Moorish heritage. The most incredible things about Mértola are its wild nature and hiking trails.

Being in the Alentejo, and particularly towards the south of the Alentejo, Mértola and its surrounding area are a bit warmer than Lisbon. Private rooms, houses, and rustic cottages in the area could not be any cheaper on Airbnb. You can find a deal for 160 euros for two nights for three or four people.


Marvão is no less pretty than Mértola with beautiful hiking trails and scenery. The town lies in Portalegre and is only a few kilometers away from Spain. This hilltop village allows you to see the most picturesque scenery; after all, the village used to be a natural point of strategic defense during the reign of the Moors as well as after the Christian Reconquista.

Apart from the hikes and the views, the town has quite an interesting architectural heritage which stands witness to its rich history. Cozy houses for two people can be rented as cheaply as 60 euros per night on Airbnb or Booking.com.

The town is included in the New York Times bestselling book: “1,000 Places to see Before you Die.”

Nature and your mental (and physical) health

So, what can you do to save your mental well-being during the potentially recurring weekend lockdowns?

Pick a town which is not on the list of 191 municipalities undergoing the curfew, Marvão or Mértola or anywhere else you fancy. Go alone for a silent retreat or with people in your household (flat mates, family or a partner) in order to avoid socializing. Book a place in the middle of nowhere so you minimize contact with others, packing all your food and necessary items with you. And just lose yourself in nature.

Remember you will be helping the local community in those towns that are suffering immensely from the current measures. Moreover, you will be saving your mental well-being. Do you know that exercising is one of the few things we are allowed to do outdoors during the curfew hours? It is necessary, it is needed, and you might end up exploring a bit more of Portugal in the most peaceful setting you could hope for.

As of 27 November, restrictions include:

• prohibiting circulation of people from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. and from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekends.

• Movement is prohibited between municipalities between 11 p.m. on 27 November and 5 a.m. on 2 December and between 11 p.m. on 4 December and 5 a.m. on 9 December. The more strict measures prohibiting movement between municipalities on those days are due to the Portuguese bank holidays on the 1st and the 8th of December.

Public health officials believe infection rates rise during the weekends with gatherings of friends and families both indoors and outdoors, hence the heavier restrictions during the weekends and bank holidays.

There is, of course, a general feeling of discontent among business owners and people working in hospitality with such measures due to the negative economic consequences of the new restrictions. People whose jobs are not affected by the new rules are also concerned about reliving something similar to the lockdown days in March and April.

To avoid getting stuck in the curfew, make sure you are traveling outside of curfew days (and hours!). It is tricky, but totally doable.

About the author:

Sarah Nagaty is a PhD researcher of cultural studies in Lisbon. She’s lived in Portugal for two years.

As a student of cultural studies, Sarah is drawn to what connects people from different backgrounds to new cultures and places, how they relate to their new surroundings and what kind of activities they could engage with in their new hometowns.

See all of Sarah’s Dispatches posts here.

See Dispatches’s Lisbon story archive here.

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New Digital Nomad visas (updated): More countries see restless internationals as key to prosperity https://dispatcheseurope.com/new-digital-nomad-visas-more-countries-see-restless-internationals-as-key-to-prosperity/ https://dispatcheseurope.com/new-digital-nomad-visas-more-countries-see-restless-internationals-as-key-to-prosperity/#respond Thu, 26 Nov 2020 01:07:23 +0000 http://dispatcheseurope.com/?p=72167 As the Trump madness, the pandemic and hurricanes all converge on the United States, the question we get more than any other is “What’s the easiest route to living in Europe long-term?” In the past, we would have directed you to our Golden Visa archives or our posts about freelance visas. But all of a […]

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As the Trump madness, the pandemic and hurricanes all converge on the United States, the question we get more than any other is “What’s the easiest route to living in Europe long-term?” In the past, we would have directed you to our Golden Visa archives or our posts about freelance visas. But all of a sudden, some very attractive countries see digital nomads as long-term economic assets and image boosters and are issuing digital nomad visas.

That’s because many are skilled developers, entrepreneurs, social media marketers and influencers pulling down serious jack. But you don’t have to be all about the money. You, like our Beth Hoke, can make a living doing what you love to do, in her case, writing, teaching English and hustling clients while she experiences the best Europe has to offer.

So let’s look at the latest developments. And so you know … some of these visas aren’t actually available yet in Europe. We’ll update this post as they come online.


Croatia is the latest European country to propose, at least, a digital nomad visa. Spurred by a commitment by two Split-based Dutch agtech entrepreneurs to invest in this Adriatic jewel, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković introduced legislation for a digital nomad visa, an amendment to the Foreigners Act.

That legislation is working its way through Croatia’s parliament, but the visa will be – theoretically– available in the first quarter of 2021. But this could be a game-changer as Croatia has all the ingredients – sea, lovely cities, educated workforce and a prime Balkan location between Austria on the north and Greece to the south – to attract wealthy internationals by the droves.

Of course, EU citizens don’t need visas and non-EU citizens can get a very restrictive 1-year residence permit right now.


On 1 August, Estonia launched its digital nomad visa, with ambitions to attract 2,000 on-the-go people to this far north innovation center on the Baltic Sea.

Estonia has always been a net talent-exporter, with its techies leaving for London or Stockholm to lay the digital foundations for multiple Unicorns including Skype and TransferWise. Now, Estonia wants to steal other countries’ best and brightest.

The one-year visas will be available to digital nomads willing to spend part of their time working from the Baltic state. (We recommend the summer.) The visa will allow people to stay in the country for 12 months, including 90 days of travel across Europe’s 26-country Schengen zone, which in and of itself will make this a hit.

You can now apply at embassies and consulates just like you would for any other visa. But we’re guessing this launches a whole cottage industry of companies that will help you get this visa for a fee.

Who is eligible to apply?

  • You can work anywhere remotely using telecommunications technology
  • You have an active employment contract with a company registered outside of Estonia; you conduct business through your own company registered abroad, or you work as a freelancer for clients mostly outside of Estonia.
  • You can prove your income meets the minimum threshold during the six months preceding the application. Currently, the monthly income threshold is 3,504 euros before taxes

While you can’t apply yet online, you can subscribe to the newsletter here that will alert you when all this goes live.

The fee is 80 euros for a Type C (short stay) visa and 100 euros for the Type D (long stay) visa. Forms can be submitted at the nearest embassy.


Is Georgia (the country, not the state) on your mind? Maybe it should be as this last of the exotic (sort of) European destinations is offering a digital nomad visa. Georgia, like every other country in the world, wants to attract highly skilled internationals who can contribute to the tax base.

This country on the physical and psychological dividing line between Europe and Central Asia/the Middle East is inexpensive and, according to our expats, beautiful and inviting.

This visa isn’t available yet, but when it is, you’ll apply here. Though there is a school of thought that says their 1-year tourist visa is a better option, AND you don’t get taxed. So do your research.

You can see more here on the workfromgeorgia website.


Greece, which already has a plethora of long-stay visa offerings and Golden Visas, is upping the ante with a proposed 50-percent discount on personal income taxes for “digital migrants” – professionals who relocate there to work. This seems to be a trend, with Iceland offering its digital nomad program with the stipulation that recipients must be full-time employees of a foreign company. (See below.)

Greek’s proposed digital nomad program isn’t law yet, but the legislation is expected to move quickly through the Hellenic parliament before the end of 2020. It would cut the current tax rate in Greece – 44 percent for annual personal income of more than 40,000 euros ($47,000), or 17,600 euros – for highly skilled digital nomads, according to the Guardian. Under the proposed scheme, the rate would drop to 22 percent, or 8,800 euros, for seven years.

There is, as you might suspect, a Brexit component as a number of multinational banks are eyeing sending some operations to Greece so they can continue to do business with the European Union. And Greece has been trying to lure back its best and brightest, who emigrated to the United States and other countries during the financial crisis. Finally, there’s that damn pandemic, which has made the office – even the C-Suite – a less and less attractive place to work.


Obscured by pandemics and presidential elections gone awry, Iceland’s government announced in late October that it’s offering a remote worker visa to non-EU citizens with substantial incomes. How substantial? At least 1 million (yes, million) Icelandic króna, or about $7,300 – 6,200 euros – per month, according to the government website. More if you bring your family.

They’re going to need it because Iceland is the second most expensive country in Europe behind Switzerland, according to Numbeo and other sources. Though the upside is, you become an instant millionaire after converting your currency of choice. The new visas allow foreigners to come work remotely for up to six months on this remote island of volcanoes, ice, snow, Björk. stunning scenery and the world’s most northerly capital city in Reykjavik.

Now, the gritty details … the initiative states that you must be the permanent employee of a foreign company. So this is about offering people a very cool place to work remotely at a time global companies are allowing employees the freedom to work anywhere they want. It is not an invitation to come hangout first, then think about maybe getting a few clients for your freelance SEO gig.

BUT, you’re income won’t be taxed and foreign citizens will be allowed to apply for a long-term visa in Iceland for teleworkers and bring their families without having to move their legal domicile to the country or obtain Icelandic ID numbers, according to the website.

Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir, minister of Tourism, Innovation and Industry, explains the thinking behind the new visa:

We need to shape our export industry, based on ingenuity and by making it easier for foreign nationals to work from Iceland, we add value, knowledge and connections in Iceland that support our innovation environment.

‘Nuf said.

Not in Europe, but we hear it’s nice

Bermuda – Okay, crazy rich digital nomads, there’s a new destination where you can work and count your money in a well-known tax haven.

Bermuda’s Digital Nomad 1-year digital nomad visa went live 1 August and you can apply here. Think of Bermuda as the Switzerland of the semi-tropical Atlantic, close to New York City and with the well-oiled bureaucracy of that Alpine bastion of banking.

This being Bermuda, the application cost is a bit high at $263. And yes, it states clearly in the FAQs that you can indeed bring along your domestic staff.

Barbados – Here’s a no-brainer … work from the beach on one of the world’s lovliest islands, a favorite of British celebrities since the 1930s. With its five-star resorts, Barbados was St. Barths before St. Barths became the Caribbean destination in the 2000s.

If Elon Musk were a digital nomad, this is where he’d be digitally nomading – with Amber Heard at Sandy Lane.

Now, Barbados, of all places, is offering a digital nomad visa.

On 1 July, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley announced a 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp to allow visitors the option to work remotely from Barbados for a year at a time.

“You don’t need to work in Europe, or the US or Latin America if you can come here and work for a couple months at a time; go back and come back,” the prime minister announced.

You can apply here, and there is a $2,000 fee involved. Also, you have to “expect” to make at least $50,000 during the next 12 months. (We expect to make millions … we hope that counts.)

Now, about that cost of living … cities such as Tallinn and Tbilisi are far less expensive cities than, say, Copenhagen or Amsterdam. The Caribbean not so much. We are huge fans of the Caribbean, but we know from experience that most things are more expensive just because everything has to be shipped in.

That said, Expatica and other crowd-sourced data mills indicate that Bridgetown, the main city on Barbados, has sort of affordable housing, about 40-percent less than Amsterdam.

So there you go … you heard it here first.

United Arab Emirates – The UAE just joined Bermuda and Barbados on the list of countries welcoming affluent digital nomads. Officials in this posh, futuristic Gulf emirate just introduced in October their one-year “virtual working programme,” which comes with a lot of stipulations including being able to prove you have top-line revenue of at least $5,000.

BUT, the application fee of $287 is a lot more affordable than Barbados, and you don’t pay any taxes in the UAE. So, this is a doable proposition for most. Well, some ….

You can see the details here. But we couldn’t find an application portal, so we’re guessing you have to do this the old fashioned way and contact the embassy or consulate in your area.

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Krystal Kenney in Paris: Easy visas for Americans dreaming of moving to France https://dispatcheseurope.com/krystal-kenney-in-paris-easy-visas-for-americans-dreaming-of-moving-to-france/ https://dispatcheseurope.com/krystal-kenney-in-paris-easy-visas-for-americans-dreaming-of-moving-to-france/#respond Wed, 25 Nov 2020 08:59:36 +0000 https://dispatcheseurope.com/?p=78386 Are you dreaming of moving to France? I hear this over and over when I tell Americans back home how I packed my bags and moved to France. Their first response is usually, “Wow, you are living my dream!” followed by “How did you do it?” Looking back on my planning to move, I remember […]

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Are you dreaming of moving to France? I hear this over and over when I tell Americans back home how I packed my bags and moved to France. Their first response is usually, “Wow, you are living my dream!” followed by “How did you do it?” Looking back on my planning to move, I remember having the same feelings of being unaware of how to move to France and what the paperwork process looked like. 

This will mark my ninth year in France, and I will apply for a French passport this month. But, it was not an easy road to get here.

I learned the hard way the ins and out of French bureaucracy. But through my research, I discovered some of the easier ways to arrive in Paris if you do not have a company to sponsor you. Here are my tips and tricks that are easier and faster than applying for the carte de séjours residence card.

Student visa

For many, this is the quickest and easiest way to arrive in France. And no, you do not need to be in your 20s or want to go back to college. Most people choose a student visa to study the French language.

There are many language schools in Paris that will qualify for the visa and you will learn French, so it’s a win/win to arriving in the City of Light. Most language schools are much cheaper than an actual university as well, and learning French will be one of the most important things you do to make your life easier in France.

You can see details here about signing up and starting the paperwork process.

Au pair visa

If you are under the age of 30, this might be the easiest route for moving to France. As an au pair in Paris, you will receive a visa to live and work with a French family in France. The family provides you accommodation and other amenities in exchange for caring for their children.

The beauty of this visa is most of the day you are free because normally the kids are in school all day. Do keep in mind that most French children have Wednesdays off from courses, so it will be a day spent with them or taking them to other activities such as music and art classes. If you want an agency to help pair you with a family and give you more information, contact Au Paris Paris


If you already have friends or a lover in Paris then a PACS, a civil-solidarity pact, could be a good route for you. PACS was originally created for same-sex couples as a form of civil marriage before gay marriage was legal in France. But, now anyone can get a PACS as long as they are living in the same household.

You do not need to be in a relationship, but you do need to share a lease with both of your names on it. Through your PACS, your first year you will receive a long-stay visitor visa which does not allow you to work. But, after the first year, this changes, and you will be allowed to work in France. For more information on how to PACS, go to this website

Be sure to read the additional requirements for foreigners, including proof you’re not in another PACS.

Long-stay visa

If you do not need to work in France and have a large sum of money sitting in the bank, then apply for a long-stay visitor visa. This visa gives you a year to come and go as much as you want in France.

The key here is you cannot legally work while on this visa, but if you have a job online or don’t need to work then voila! The most important thing to get this visa is proof of enough income in your assets or bank to prove you do not need to work for a year. The French state will want to see you will not be a drain on the French social system and can support yourself without work.

For more information on a long stay visitor visa, visit here.

And finally a disclaimer, I am by no means an immigration lawyer or consultant but I have paid a lot of consultants and lawyers to get me here, and this is what the processes looked like working with them. But if you are looking for a real pro to elaborate on any of the ideas above, send these consultants at Expat Partners a message. There were the best I worked with and very kind and efficient.

Good luck pursuing your dream!

About the author:

Krystal Kenney is a photographer and writer in Paris, France. She also hosts a podcast called “La Vie Creative,” where she interviews creatives in Paris. She moved to Paris more than eight years ago from Annapolis, Maryland to start a new life. Krystal loves spending her days exploring Paris, and traveling all over Europe. You can see more of her photography and her podcast on her website here. She specializes in wedding, event, and vacation photos.

You can follow her and Miss Paris Photo on Instagram and on Facebook.

You can see more of her work for Dispatches here.

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EuroBrits Greece offers British expats free help securing post-Brexit residence rights https://dispatcheseurope.com/eurobrits-greece-offers-british-expats-free-help-securing-post-brexit-residence-rights/ https://dispatcheseurope.com/eurobrits-greece-offers-british-expats-free-help-securing-post-brexit-residence-rights/#respond Tue, 24 Nov 2020 08:57:39 +0000 https://dispatcheseurope.com/?p=78336 This whole Brexit thing is a bureaucratic nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be for Brits in Greece and other countries. There is an organization that can help. EuroBrits Greece is funded by the AIRE Center to help British expats secure their residence status, and services are free. A guestimated 20,000 British citizens reside in […]

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This whole Brexit thing is a bureaucratic nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be for Brits in Greece and other countries. There is an organization that can help. EuroBrits Greece is funded by the AIRE Center to help British expats secure their residence status, and services are free.

A guestimated 20,000 British citizens reside in Greece.

We got this email from Myrto Stavridi, an attorney and case worker with The AIRE Centre:

I am sending you this email on behalf of The AIRE Centre, a legal charity based in London which provides free legal advice to individuals in need. The AIRE Centre, with the support of the British Embassy in Greece and the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is currently running the EuroBrits project to help British citizens secure their residence right in Greece after Brexit. Through the EuroBrits project, we provide necessary information and personalised assistance to British citizens, in both Greek and English, to facilitate their registration with the Greek authorities. Registration is essential to maintaining residence status.

The EuroBrits project aims to reach and assist as many British citizens as possible. From December 2020 until March 2021, EuroBrits will offer personal appointments through video conferencing. Starting in December and going into 2021, they have designated specific weeks for specific regions throughout Greece.

• From 1 December to 4 December, it’s the Ionian Islands, including Corfu.

• From 9 December to 13 December, it’s Peloponnese.

• From 16 December thru 20 December, it’s the Northern Aegean islands including Samos, Chios and Lesvos.

For those without email and/or the Internet, there’s a phone help line open Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to noon local time. If you or anyone you know is in this situation, please call +30 698 85 91 229.

Whoever needs EuroBrits’ free assistance can contact the organization through email at eurobrits@airecentre.org or over the phone at (country code +30 698 85 91 229.

EuroBrits offers a number of information sheets that might come in handy as we move toward 31 December:

UK nationals’ right to reside in Greece now that the UK has left the EU

What does the Withdrawal Agreement mean for UK nationals in Greece?

How can UK nationals in Greece secure their residence status now the UK has left the EU?

UK students’ right to reside in Greece now that the UK has left the EU

How does the residence status of UK nationals affect their rights to healthcare in Greece during the Coronavirus pandemic?

There’s also assistance for Brits in:




For more information on Brexit, see Dispatches’ guide to the rules of all the European Union countries here.

About the AIRE Center: The AIRE Centre (Advice on Individual Rights in Europe) is a specialist legal charity that uses the power of European law to protect fundamental rights.

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Black Friday 2020: Shopping amid a raging pandemic might mean even more bargains https://dispatcheseurope.com/black-friday-2020-shopping-amid-a-raging-pandemic-might-mean-even-more-bargains/ https://dispatcheseurope.com/black-friday-2020-shopping-amid-a-raging-pandemic-might-mean-even-more-bargains/#respond Mon, 23 Nov 2020 09:28:40 +0000 https://dispatcheseurope.com/?p=78141 Black Friday 2020 is shaping up to be – like 2020 itself – full of uncertainty for retailers and consumers alike. Everything is up in the air because of the pandemic, with Black Friday 2020 online only in the United Kingdom. France is going as far as convincing Amazon and Carrefour to postpone Black Friday […]

The post Black Friday 2020: Shopping amid a raging pandemic might mean even more bargains appeared first on Dispatches Europe.

Black Friday 2020 is shaping up to be – like 2020 itself – full of uncertainty for retailers and consumers alike.

Everything is up in the air because of the pandemic, with Black Friday 2020 online only in the United Kingdom. France is going as far as convincing Amazon and Carrefour to postpone Black Friday to protect small retailers – shuttered in a lockdown – both from the pandemic and from the American e-commerce monolith.

(In the U.S. and UK, Amazon actually started “Black Friday” sales back in October.)

Amazon France and Carrefour, Europe’s biggest retailer, have agreed to postpone Black Friday discounts until 4 December. They can afford to do that because pandemic shutdowns have shifted power even further to the Amazon and the big European ecommerce companies such Bol.com in the Netherlands and Zalando in Germany.

Financial Times reports Frédéric Duval, head of Amazon France, stated Amazon sales had risen 40-to-50 percent since the French lockdown started at the end of October.

Ah, but the show must go on ….

Thursday, 27 November and Friday, 28 November, are just normal weekdays in Europe while America is celebrating Thanksgiving. Well, they used to be. Starting back in 2015, Europe started buying into the American-style Christmas shopping frenzy with a vengeance, and Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving – became a thing here almost overnight.

The UK is the biggest market for Black Friday in Europe, followed by Germany. But Statista predicts spending will be down dramatically this year across all markets. Which could lead to more competition and price cutting by Christmas.

Locked down, but not necessarily locked out

Amazon.de pretty much brought Black Friday to Europe. Now, all brick and mortar shops on the high streets such as Primark, s. Oliver, C&A, Nike and others are participating in stores and online.

Most of the sales will be running through “Cyber Monday,” and British shoppers alone are projected to spend about 7 billion pounds in total sale. Which is nothing compared to the capital of commercialism, the U.S., where shoppers are projected to spend $148 billion on Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping in 24-hour shopping that always involves fisticuffs.

Remember, most of Europe from the United Kingdom to Portugal is under some degree of shutdown, so consult our guide to pandemic rules here. But brick-and-mortar retailers in the Netherlands, Sweden and other European countries are still wide open and having their own sales.

Expats, your online Black Friday 2020 experience might just turn out to be good for the pocket and more pleasant than browsing through the racks.

Let’s go shopping


Might as well get right to it … Amazon is pushing electronics for 2020 with Lightening Sales now through 30 November. That includes their own products such as the Echo Dot, Fire tablets and Kindle readers at give-away prices and their bread-and-butter such as smart/HD televisions.

But our searches shows that Amazon is serving up Instant Pots and other stuff that are hot sellers in the pandemic including Vitamin D, which apparently helps the body fight viruses.

The camelcamelcamel.com Amazon price tracker is a super-handy tool to figure out Amazon’s inconsistent pan-European pricing models.

Amazon has been pushing deeper into the European market, with a bigger choice in the Netherlands starting last year, and new operations in Sweden. (See Dispatches’ guide for shopping national sites here.) The Seattle-based mega-corporation also just opened its first air cargo hub outside the U.S. and Asia. The new European hub is, of course, in Germany, Leipzig to be precise.

Now, the good news for consumers – MediaMarkt and other retailers are matching or beating Amazon prices on hot items such as Apple Watches and Nintendo Switch.


During our first four years, our biggest category was travel, with every hotel chain and airline offering some kind of discounts. This year … we’re all dressed up with no place to go.

In this pandemic year, we can’t imagine anyone is just impulse-buying travel bargains with all the lockdowns, travel restrictions and quarantine rules. But if you have a plan to stay safe and live somewhere like the Netherlands or Sweden where people are still flying, go for it. And obviously, you can book deals now if you believe the end of the pandemic is nigh and lockdowns will be just an unpleasant memory in the coming year.

If you’re in, there are some crazy Black Friday 2020 deals in our favorite cities.

• As always, Ryanair has an entire page of deals just from British airports including to Stockholm from Standsted for 11.70 pounds; Vienna for 13.09 pounds and Barcelona for 22.69 pounds

You can see all the British deals here.

 • British Airways will offer deals the day of, but they aren’t posted yet.

SkyScanner posted their guide last month, which includes a place you can sign up for email alerts.

• The effortlessly hip W Hotel in Amsterdam, with its fabulous rooftop bar, has staycation offers and other deals with 25 percent and more off room rates. You can see them here.

The Rosewood chain, which has some of the most exclusive hotels in the world, is offering “stay four nights, get one free” deals at the Chillon in Paris and at other properties. Of course, Paris is shut down right now, but the rates are good into the summer … and you can go to some islands in the Caribbean, the Canaries and other destinations if you have proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

Forbes has the best 2020 Black Friday travel roundup if you want to go to the States once international travel resumes.


Twenty-twenty is pretty much the bane of everyone’s existence, and that includes gamers who thought they were ordering PlayStation 5s from Amazon, but instead got cat food, kitchen appliances or empty boxes. Eurogamer has the story along with their list of the best Black Friday deals for gamers.

In response, Amazon has sent customers in Europe emails stating they’ll have sufficient stocks of PlayStation 5s for Black Friday 2020 and Christmas.

• Apple don’t discount. But you can find deals at places that do in Europe including Ingolstadt, Germany-based discount electronics chain MediaMarkt. They have Apple iPhone 11s for 644 euros and Apple AirPods 2 for as low as 133 euros.

You can see all their Apple Black Friday sales here.

Note – we don’t recommend AMAC stores in the Netherlands, where we’ve had multiple bad experiences.

• Dutch ecommerce website Coolblue has deals through 30 November.


• Mango, H&MASOS and Zara – all the Scandi/Spanish fast-fashion apparel retailers, really – have huge online Black Friday sales. And don’t bother going to the stores … they’re all about e-commerce in 2020. 

• Zalando, the Berlin-based e-commerce giant, is really pushing apparel, along with everything else. If people on your Christmas list are into fitness – and who isn’t in a shutdown – you can get lots of workout gear at substantial savings including leggings from Nike and sweats from Adidas.

Here’s the link.

Fashion Outlets

With so many countries under lockdown including Italy, which has the best high-end fashion outlets, the pickings are slim for 2020.

Batavia Stad Fashion, the Netherlands’ original fashion outlet, is having a full 10 days of sales, from 20 November to 29 November.

Designer Outlet Roermond in the Netherlands has a Black Friday sale through 30 November.

National pages

The Netherlands once again has its own website dedicated to tracking Black Friday deals … and you can buy through the website. Ditto for Germany, Sweden, and France.

If you have subscribed to the newsletters of your favorite retailers in Europe, you were greeted recently with 20-percent off or 30-percent off Black Friday discounts in your inbox to make sure you don’t miss them … even if you somehow missed the big Black Friday promotions in shops in downtown shopping streets or your favorite shopping center.

Best references

• The Telegraph has an actual Black Friday Channel and does a great job of tracking bargains for Brits. Oh, and there’s a page of nothing but phone deals. And there are separate pages for apparel and other items.

• TechRadar has a stellar list of bargains in the UK.

Back story

Black Friday historically comes from the 1960s in the United States when retailers wanted to increase their revenue, inventing the Black Friday concept. It’s called “Black Friday” because the all-important Christmas season marks the point retailers generally reach profitability for the year, and bookkeepers enter positive revenue and returns into ledgers in black numbers. (Losses, of course, are recorded in red numbers.)

The post Black Friday 2020: Shopping amid a raging pandemic might mean even more bargains appeared first on Dispatches Europe.

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Expat Essentials: Dispatches’ complete guide to pandemic rules, restrictions across Europe (updated) https://dispatcheseurope.com/expat-essentials-dispatches-complete-guide-to-pandemic-rules-restrictions-across-europe/ https://dispatcheseurope.com/expat-essentials-dispatches-complete-guide-to-pandemic-rules-restrictions-across-europe/#respond Sun, 22 Nov 2020 05:52:00 +0000 http://dispatcheseurope.com/?p=66798 (Editor’s note: Multiple expats across Europe contributed information to this post, with Terry Boyd and Andriana Boyrikova doing the majority of the writing. Pandemic measures are aggregated from official government news releases and websites, as well as from media reports.) After lockdowns of varying degrees of severity, other countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands and […]

The post Expat Essentials: Dispatches’ complete guide to pandemic rules, restrictions across Europe (updated) appeared first on Dispatches Europe.

(Editor’s note: Multiple expats across Europe contributed information to this post, with Terry Boyd and Andriana Boyrikova doing the majority of the writing. Pandemic measures are aggregated from official government news releases and websites, as well as from media reports.)

After lockdowns of varying degrees of severity, other countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands and Austria are finally seeing the second wave of infections recede. Though healthcare systems in Croatia, Italy and France are still severely stressed.

If there’s a lesson for us all after nine months of pandemic, it’s how quickly countries such as Sweden can go from celebrated to excoriated for their approach (or lack of) to checking COVID-19.

We’re adding a new tool developed by Dutch graphic arts and computer specialist Jan Willem Tulp at Den Haag-based Tulp Interactive designed to help you comprehend how fast the number of cases is rising including the number of cases per minute or even per second for 150 countries. You can see Jan Willem’s data visualization tool here.

For a few weeks in June and July, it looked like the COVID-19 pandemic was over in Europe, with countries including Austria, Greece, Ireland and Croatia reporting very low infection rates and days without a coronavirus-linked death. Then sometime in August – in a rough correlation with Europe’s vacation season – countries from Spain to Denmark started reporting a second wave with more cases than the early days of the pandemic.

September was just flat-out terrible, with many countries setting one-day records for coronavirus infections and the trend is continuing in October.

Fortunately, for whatever reasons, this mutation of the virus seems to be less virulent, though scientists attributed the low number of deaths to the fact that most of the positives tests are among young people, who appear more resistant to COVID-19’s most severe symptoms.

The situation was compounded by official uncertainty about what to do to stop this second wave, with governments hesitant to lock down. That phase passed and now new restrictions are in place across Europe. Which is why this post is updated regularly.

You can see the all the trends and graphs here on Worldometer.


Country profile:

Austria is under a hard lockdown as of 17 November, one of the toughest in Europe. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz stated 14 November that the partial lockdown wasn’t having the desired effect.

Austria briefly overtook Belgium, with the highest number of new infections per million inhabitants in western Europe, according to the Financial Times Covid-19 tracker.

Austria went from as few as 17 new cases in 24 hours on 25 May to an historic high of 9,586 new cases in 24 hours on 13 November, about 400-percent more than the 30 March peak of the first wave. Deaths in 24 hours are also rising, with at least 50 deaths in September and about 273 for October. As of 28 November, there have been about 900 deaths recorded for the month, with an historic peak of 118 on 24 November.

The good news is, the infection rate is receding, from a peak of 10,000 mid-month to an average of about 6,000 new cases per day as of 28 November.

The rules:

Austrian officials have imposed a new hard lockdown including a round-the-clock curfew. Austrians are only allowed to leave their homes to go to essential work, to shop for groceries or to exercise. Only supermarkets, pharmacies, banks and post offices will be allowed to stay open. Working from home will be mandatory, except for those who provide essential services. 

You can see the official coronavirus tracking dashboard here.

Companies affected by the shutdown will be compensated with 80 percent of their revenue from last November, but will have to retain all their employees.

As of 11 September, Kurz reintroduced mandatory face mask rules in all public spaces, supermarkets, shops, government buildings and schools, according the the Voice of America.

They remain mandatory on public transportation.

New anti-coronavirus measures including a 10 p.m. curfew in the tourist states of Tirol, Vorarlberg and Salzburg just in time for ski season to keep skiers from congregating in clubs and bars after a day on the slopes.

There will also be mandatory face coverings on the slopes and in the gondolas.

The border:

The big story is Switzerland, Germany and Austria debating whether to open the ski season, with Austria and Switzerland in pro camp and Germany opposing. Of course, Iscghl ski resort in Austria is believed to have been the trigger for COVID-19 to spread across Europe last March.

Austria has declared parts of Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Portugal, Spain and the U.K. as Red Zones, requiring quarantine or a negative Covid-19 test, taken within the last 72 hours for entry. More countries including Germany are including Vienna and other parts of Austria including the Tyrol on high-risk lists. Germany has also decided to extend border controls with Austria – due expire 11 November – for another six months.

Austrian officials are cautioning citizens not to travel to Croatia as cases spike there though there’s no ban.

Effective 24 August, travellers arriving from the Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera) have to carry a medical certificate proving a negative COVID-19 PCR test.

Effective 10 August, Austrian officials issued an alert for Spain that now includes the Balearic islands. Austrians returning from Spain must get Covid-19 tests within 72 hours.

Otherwise, you should check the Austrian Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection website here to see if there are new restrictions as the situation is changing daily.

Here’s the official website.


Country profile:

In early November, the country’s public health officials said they were losing control. But as of mid-month, the number of new COVID-19 cases every 24 hours has decreased to about 10 percent of the peak on 29 October.

Belgium had – until passed by Peru – the dismal distinction of having the highest rate of deaths per million of population –11,407 as of 28 November – in the world and more than 16,300 deaths since the pandemic began. It has the second-highest rate of infection in Europe behind the Czech Republic.

Since the end of October, the infection rate has dropped from a peak of about 24,000 new cases in 24 hours on 30 October to as low as 1,123 on 24 November. But as of 21 November, Belgian officials were still reporting two times as many cases per day as at the height of the first wave.

Deaths every 24 hours also rose, with at about 150 total reported in August and about 80 in September. The situation is just getting worse, with about 1,200 deaths in October and a peak of 345 reported on 11 November.

There have been about 4,800 deaths reported so far in November as of the 28th, but the average has dropped to about 140 per day from the peak of 345.

Most of Belgium is “red” on the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control chart indicating infection rates of more than 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.


As of 2 November, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced, Belgium goes into a second lockdown, with all non-essential shops close for at least one month. Families-and-friends visits are no longer allowed. However, Belgium will ease its coronavirus restrictions 1 December, with shops allowed to reopen though bars and restaurants will remain closed.

You can see all the details here including a change in curfew times in some provinces starting on Christmas Eve.

A 10 pm. to 6 a.m. curfew is effect until 13 December. Whether restrictions will loosen for the holidays remain to be seen. You can see more details on Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès website here.

Look for the rules to be updated on the official government coronavirus page here.

The borders:

Winter trips and journeys to red zones are strongly discouraged. Non-essential travel to and from outside EU and Schengen countries remains prohibited and all passengers arriving in Belgium by air or sea must fill in a “Public Health Passenger Locator Form.”

Belgium has launched a travel map with open countries, and countries with travel restrictions, and you can see it here. Travel to countries marked “red” is strongly discouraged. That said, when returning from a “red zone” (that would be the Netherlands next door) you must quarantine for at least a week. 

The Netherlands is restricting residents to only essential travel to Belgium as of 14 October though the border is still open as of mid-November.

As of 29 July, anyone travelling to the Netherlands from the province of Antwerp is required to complete a 10-day quarantine, and in Germany, people returning from Antwerp must get tested for coronavirus. The month of August was a time of dueling travel warnings between Belgium and the rest of Europe. On 25 August, Belgium’s foreign ministry on Wednesday banned travel to Paris amid concerns over a possible resurgence of coronavirus cases in the French capital.

On 19 August, Switzerland added Belgium to its quarantine list.

As of 14 August, Belgians are banned from going to Malta, parts of Spain and most of Romania as they have become “red travel zones.” You can see more detail here.

On 7 August, the UK added Belgium to its list of countries British citizens are discouraged from visiting for anything other than essential travel.


You seriously don’t want to be in Croatia right now, where daily COVID-19 infection rates and deaths are off the charts in late November. As of 28 November, there have been about 123,693 confirmed cases and 1,655 deaths in Croatia. In May, it appeared the pandemic was over in this Adriatic country, with Croatia escaping largely unaffected, especially compared to Italy and Spain.

But about 1 million tourists poured into the country during July and August. Unlike most countries in the EU, Croatia allowed tourist from the US and other countries, with predictable results. The European Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that for the week of Aug. 10 to 16, there was a 174 percent increase in the rate of infections compared to the week prior. 

In short, no country in Europe – not even Spain – saw cases rise so dramatically, with one out of every 58 people diagnosed with COVID-19 dying – one out of nine hospitalised as of late November.

July was a tough month, with daily new cases rising steadily in a second wave, peaking at 140 on 11 July, then receding to 28 on 6 August. Then Croatia had a third, far more severe wave, with an historic peak of 4,080 new cases reported on 27 November. That’s 40 times the number of cases in 24 hours of 96 on 1 April, the peak of the first wave.

As in Austria and other countries with new coronavirus spikes, there hadn’t been a corresponding rise in deaths, with about 35 deaths in August and 80 for September. That’s changed, as well. On 20 November, the country recorded 57 deaths in 24 hours, the highest since the pandemic began. There were about 270 deaths reported in October. There have been about 1,000 total deaths recorded in November as of the 28th, with a peak of 57 deaths on 20 November.

The rules:

As of late November, Croatia is locked down, with cafés, restaurants and gyms closed.

New rules effective 27 November:

• Public gatherings are banned including wedding parties.

• Sports competitions will be held without spectators, and all public events will have to end at 10 pm. 

• At 10 p.m., all bakeries and catering facilities will have to close and there’s a ban on alcohol sales from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

On 25 October, Croatia introduced mandatory use of face masks in closed spaces as new infections rise.

Masks are mandatory for healthcare workers, hospital visitors, drivers and passengers on public transport, customers and store employees and “employees in the hospitality business who are in contact with guests or participate in serving and preparing meals and beverages,” according to the Croatian Institute of Public Health.

Croatia has lifted its internal travel rules. Here’s the official Croatian government page.

The border:

As of 1 November, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Slovenia all have Croatia or Croatian regions on their quarantine lists. Croatia has been on the UK’s and Slovenia’s quarantine list since 20 August.

Border restrictions ended the final week of May. On May 29, Croatia opened to tourists from almost everywhere including the United States, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria.

You can apply here to enter.


Country profile:

In June and July, media outlets such as the Financial Times were abuzz with posts about Denmark being “the first to close – first to reopen.” It didn’t last.

With a spike in August, Denmark, started requiring face masks on all public transport.

In September, the country entered a second wave, reporting an average of about 400 new cases per day for the month. On 6 November, Denmark reported 1,427 new cases in 24 hours, by far the most since the pandemic began. As of 28 November, the infection rate has plateaued at about 1,300 new cases every 24 hours.

There were a total of eight deaths reported in August and 17 in September. That rate is increasing as Denmark reports about 84 deaths recorded in October and about 90 through 27 November.

You can see Denmark’s COVID-19 dashboard here.

The rules:

With cases rising, Danish leaders are assuring the nation there will be no return to a March 11-style rigid shutdown. “It was the right thing to do back then. It wouldn’t be the right thing to do again,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told TV2 on 10 September.

But on 18 September, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen lowered the limit on public gatherings to 50 people from 100, and bars and said restaurants close at 10 p.m. As of 26 October, Denmark lowered the limit for public gatherings to 10 from 50 people and you can’t buy alcohol after 10 p.m.

All these restrictions are in place through 13 December.

Face masks are required on public transport and taxi, and are also required in airports and on flights. For full information on this and more, visit the Danish Health Authority pages.

The borders:

Denmark has issued a list of confusing edicts warning about travel to places like Finland, where infection rates are climbing, while stating the country will keep open its borders. Denmark added Finland to its high-risk list effective 27 November. But earlier this month, Danish officials announced that starting 1 December, they will keep borders open for internationals coming from the EU/Schengen zone and the United Kingdom if the infection rate in those countries/regions is under 30 new cases per 100,000 citizens per week.

Effective 6 November, the UK has banned all in-bound travel from Denmark due to fears of a coronavirus mutation among farmed minks could lead to a vaccine-proof version of the virus. Denmark has announced it will cull all 17 million minks in commercial operations.

As of 26 September, Iceland, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Slovenia have been added to Denmark’s high-risk countries list, with non-essential travel there is discouraged.

Danes are also discouraged from traveling to Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland, due to spikes in new COVID-19 cases in those countries. And anyone traveling to Denmark from those countries is required to quarantine for 10 days.

Non-essential travel is also discouraged to to Andorra, Belgium, Czech Republic, Croatia, France, Hungary, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Romania and Spain.

As of September 3, the authorities have relaxed Denmark’s border control at all entry points to the country for faster entrance into the country.

Here are the latest travel regulations, which are changing almost daily.

As of 27 June, Denmark reopened borders with the EU and Schengen area. BUT, only travelers from countries recording fewer than 20 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants per week can enter Denmark. Here’s the full list, which includes France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.

On 1 July, Denmark reopened borders to selected third countries as determined by the EU Council including Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and Thailand. And they must be able to prove they’ve book at least six nights in Denmark.


Country profile:

France is back under lockdown as of 30 October, a lockdown that will last the entire month of November … at least as it broke the 2 million total cases marker. That’s the bad news. The good news is, new cases – though not deaths – are declining dramatically as of 28 November.

As of mid-November, France had retaken Spain as the European country with the most coronavirus cases. As of 28 November, France reports 795 deaths per million of population, behind Sweden, Belgium, the UK, Spain and Italy. France reported its highest number of new cases in 24 hours – about 89,000 – on 7 November, more than 10 times the infection rate during the first peak in April, though the infection rate is declining. (See the chart above.)

However, the rate of new cases every 24 hours had dropped to 12,459 on 27 November.

As in other countries in Europe, daily deaths had remained relatively low compared to the first wave – about 260 in August. Now, deaths in France are spiking, with about 932 reported in 24 hours on 13 November though the daily average is about 500 as of 27 November. There were about 3,500 deaths recorded in October and about 15,700 in November as of the 28th. French hospital administrators are cancelling scheduled procedures to make way for a projected wave of COVID-19 patients.

At the moment, France has more patients hospitalized than during the first wave last spring, but fewer in intensive care because of new treatments, according to Euronews.

French President Emmanuel Macron has said French citizens will begin getting the COVID-19 vaccine starting at the end of December or beginning of January.

The Rules:

Through 15 December, residents of France will need a certificate of permission to leave their neighborhoods and non-essential businesses, restaurants and bars will stay closed through Christmas. Restaurants might be allowed to reopen 20 January.

After 15 December, the nighttime curfew will go to 9 p.m. through 7 a.m.

You can see more granular details here.

On 26 October, sources told Reuters authorities were considering tighter measures including a 9 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew earlier, confining people to their homes at weekends except for essential trips and closing non-essential shops, and that’s exactly what happened. On 28 October, Macron announced people are allowed to go work, to go medical appointments, to care for relatives, to shop for essential goods “and to get some air,” but only with members of your household, and only for one hour.

You can see all the rules here on the official coronavirus website.

About 20 million French people were already restricted by a month-long curfew in cities including Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Lille and Toulouse. The curfew runs from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. the next morning.

With 203 coronavirus clusters, Paris officials ordered all bars closed starting 6 October. Bars, gyms and swimming pools will all be closed for two weeks in a bid to curb the spread of the virus, according to the BBC. Restaurants remain open, but with limited service and additional rules.

With a rise in cases, France has implemented a compulsory mask rule for Paris effective 28 August. The mask requirement includes the inner Paris ring of Seine-Saint-Denis, Hauts-de-Seine and Val-de-Marne.

France also announced on 25 July it would test all arriving travelers from 16 countries with high rates of infection. You can see the details here. So far, that has not included a quarantine for people coming from the UK.

• Public gatherings are limited to 10 people – with the exception of protests (this is France) or funerals.

• Face masks are mandatory on all public transportation.

Despite all this, schools remain open.

The borders:

As of 30 October, internal European borders will remain open but external borders are closed except for essential travel. All travelers arriving in France will be tested at airports and ports.

On 13 August, the UK issued a snap announcement it would require all people arriving from France to quarantine for 14 days, triggering huge lines at port of entries by more than 160,000 British tourists rushing to beat the 4 a.m. 15 August deadline.


Country profile:

Chancellor Angela Merkel had warned that if Germans didn’t help stem the rising tide of COVID-19 infections, there would consequences. On 28 October, she was as good as her word, announcing a 1-month lockdown effective 2 November … a lockdown that could last months.

Unlike in the spring, Germany is running out of ICU beds – something thought impossible. But COVID-19 patients in ICUs skyrocketed from 267 on 21 September to 3,615 on 20 November — a 1,253-percent increase in two months – with deaths up sharply.

As a result, restaurants, bars and clubs will close and people in Germany are advised to stay home, avoid travel and “keep their contacts to an absolute minimum,” Merkel said. Social contacts will be limited to two households in public. Schools and kindergartens will remain open, but have to take strict hygiene measure to do so, according to CNN.

Germany has the fifth largest number of coronavirus infections in Europe but one of the lower death rates at 168 per million in population as of 21 November. (Compare that to Belgium at 1,322.) It has about half as many cases as France. The New York Times has an in-depth post about Germany’s scientific, data-driven approach.

New deaths per 24 hours dipped to single digits on 20 July and new cases as low as 138 per day on 12 July, so German officials reopened almost everything including the country’s bars and restaurants and even eliminated all Schengen Area border controls. (That said, each of the 16 states have the authority to make their own local rules. You can see the federal rules here.)

German officials warned in October the number of new cases is likely to reach 20,000 per day and they were right – a record 23,676 on 19 November, with the country averaging more than 20,000 new cases every 24 hours for the month.

There were more than 90 total deaths reported in August, with at least 165 deaths in September. By comparison, there were about 900 deaths reported in October and about 2,900 in the first three weeks of November.

Germany, with Europe’s largest population, has about one-third the cases reported in France and Spain, both of which have crossed the 1.5 million coronavirus cases.

Dispatches staffers were in Düsseldorf on 10 October just in time to see a small anti-mask demonstration through the Königsallee commercial center. But for the most part, people were observing mask and distancing rules in shops, restaurants and public spaces.

Officials are pumping billions of euros into the post-pandemic recover – 130 billion to be precise, as well as billions to create a vaccine. The effort includes cutting the VAT to 16 percent from 19 percent, giving families 300 euros per child and doubling the government rebate so everyone will now buy a (German-made) electric car.

Finally, 50 billion euros of the total go to fixing climate change and encouraging digitization and innovation.

The rules:

Merkel instituted a nationwide “lockdown light,” closing down bars, restaurants, gyms and public events effective 2 November till possibly Christmas. Schools stay open, but meetings in public are restricted to two households and all recreational centers, pools and gyms are closed.

A ban on large gatherings in Germany – such as public festivals, sporting events with spectators and concerts – has been extended to the end of the year. Football teams play without fans in closed stadiums.

Germany’s ban on large gatherings won’t end until 31 December. So no big concerts, music festivals or Formula One races. Not only is Oktoberfest off, as are a number of Christmas markets.

The borders:

Germany has also decided to extend border controls with Austria – due expire 11 November – for another six months and it’s likely the border with Switzerland will close.

The situation is changing all the time and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website seems to be updated fairly frequently. But if you live in an EU country, you can go to Germany. That said, there are some ground rules.

Anyone coming to Germany from risk areas must be tested for coronavirus on entry and placed in quarantine until the test results are known.

Luxembourg residents can only cross the German border with a negative coronavirus test which must not be more than 48 hours old. Also on the list of high-risk countries and regions are several French departments, and the Belgian region around Brussels.

Just about the time Austria was giving the all-clear to skiing (though not après-ski parties) Germany was putting its neighbor on a red-zone list.

Robert Koch Health Institute now includes Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, and the Austrian Tyrol region on its extended its list of high-risk travel destinations.

Germany has rated regions in 11 European countries as high-risk areas in including Wales and Northern Ireland, Pays de la Loire and Burgundy and the entirety of Belgium and Iceland, advising against all but essential travel there. (It also gives Germans an option to cancel travel without penalties.)

Germany classifies an area as high-risk and issues a travel warning if the number of new coronavirus infections exceeds the mark of 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days.

On the bright side, as of 1 October, Germany lifted its general travel warning for a total of 160 countries outside the EU, with each country now assessed individually, according to the Guardian.

Germany requires arrivals from Spain — except the Canary Islands — as well as countries in the Balkans including Croatia to self-isolate for 14 days.


Country profile:

With a total of 1,419 deaths as of 21 November, Greece has been touted as a model for how to deal with pandemics. Greece reported nine coronavirus deaths for the entire month of July and new daily cases had been in the low double-digits until the end of July.

Still, Greece has one of Europe’s lower rates of death per million of population at 99.

This second wave wasn’t unexpected. Greek officials stated they expected as many as 5,000 “imported cases” this summer. And to top it all off, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands were busted during a vacation in Greece, photographed with a Greek restaurateur … and no masks or social distancing.

The rules:

Greece has closed elementary schools, kindergartens and nurseries until the end of the month. Colleges and high schools have been closed since 9 November. A stay-at-home order was reintroduced on 7 November.

The Greek government took the health threat posed by COVID-19 very seriously with an initial lockdown that lasted six weeks. Cafés and restaurants reopened 1 June. Greece opened cafés for outdoor service as of late May. But as of 3 November, Greece is back in a lockdown, though one less restrictive than last spring. Domestic travel is not restricted and stores remain open,.

Restaurants, bars, cafes, movie theaters and gyms are closed and facemasks are mandatory and there’s a curfew from midnight to 5 a.m.

The government also indefinitely suspended all religious processions and bazaars.

The borders:

Greece is back on the UK’s bad list as of 14 November, with arrivals required to quarantine for 14 days.

Greece just extended travel restrictions until 30 November:

  • Flights between Greece and Catalonia in Spain remain suspended
  • Flights between Greece and Turkey remain suspended
  • Flights between Greece and Albania and North Macedonia will continue to operate through the Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos only, until 8 November.
  • All passengers travelling to Greece from Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, the United Arab Emirates, Malta, Belgium, Spain, Albania and Northern Macedonia must provide a negative Covid-19 test result on arrival and the test cannot be older than 72 hours prior to their arrival.
  • Passengers arriving from Israel and Russia must provide a negative Covid-19 test no older than 72 hours.
  • Only citizens of Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and the United Arab Emirates are allowed to visit Greece from outside the European Union.

Italy is now testing all arrivals from Greece and it’s looking like the UK could add Greece to its quarantine list.

As of August 12, travelers from Malta have to present proof of a negative molecular test (PCR) result for Covid-19 taken no more than 72 hours before.


Country profile:

For a few weeks, Ireland replaced Denmark and Greece as Europe’s coronavirus success story. Then it all fell apart and Ireland is now in lock-down mode for the next six week, with total cases exceeding 67,500 cases.

Daily cases dropped to zero with zero deaths in 24 hours on 28 June from a peak of about 1,500 new cases and 220 deaths on 20 April. Since then, there’s been a slow uptic, with an 18 October spike of 1,283 new cases in 24 hours. But that wave is receding, with 230 cases reported on 10 November and new cases now averaging about 300 every 24 hours.

From 7 August to 1 October, Ireland reported only 22 deaths, all in September. There were a total of about 75 deaths recorded in October and about 80 so far for November as of the 21st.

The rules:

On 19 October, Irish officials announced another lockdown and acknowledged it’s the strictest in Europe. This one is scheduled to last six weeks.

Residents are asked:

  • to stay at home. People should work from home unless providing an essential service for which their physical presence is required (see below for essential services)
  • people will be permitted to exercise within a 5-kilometer-radius of 5 of their home and you can meet up with one other household outside your home to exercise.
  • there will be a penalty for movement outside the 5-kilometer radius, with exemptions for essential work and essential purposes
  • there should be no visits to other people’s homes or gardens

Schools and construction sites are open as are essential stores. But masstran is operating at 25-percent capacity. And to show you how serious this is, religious services are online only! In Ireland ….

The list is much, much longer and you can see all the detail here.

Here is the official government website.

The border:

The Irish Government announced on 11 November that passengers returning to Ireland from any red country, including Spain, can submit themselves for a Covid PCR test after self-isolating for just five days.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advises against all non-essential travel overseas. This includes Great Britain but does not apply to Northern Ireland. It also includes all cruise ship travel. Anyone coming into the Republic of Ireland, apart from Northern Ireland, will be required to either restrict their movements on arrival for 14 days. This includes Irish residents. Essential supply chain services such as hauliers, pilots, and maritime staff are exempt. There are no entry restrictions to Ireland at present.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advises against all non-essential travel overseas. This includes Great Britain but does not apply to Northern Ireland. It also includes all cruise ship travel. Anyone coming into the Republic of Ireland, apart from Northern Ireland, will be required to either restrict their movements on arrival for 14 days. This includes Irish residents. Essential supply chain services such as hauliers, pilots, and maritime staff are exempt. There are no entry restrictions to Ireland at present.


Country profile:

Italy has swung back and forth between disaster and recovery since last March, and that hasn’t changed.

The end of April and beginning of May was a period of dramatic recovery for Italy, with infection rates and deaths dropping and recoveries rising. Italian officials announced Italy is back open as of 3 June.

But as with every country on this list, Italy is experiencing a sustained second COVID-19 wave … a wave that really hit at the beginning of October. The situation has become dire in Naples and the surrounding Campania region, where hospitals are once again running out of ICU beds.

In September, there was an average of 1,500 cases per day. Now Italy is averaging about 35,000 new coronavirus cases every 24 hours so far as of late November with a spike of 41,000 on 13 November. That’s more than 600 times the rate at the worst part of the first wave in March, with healthcare workers overwhelmed.


The difference is, both the north and south of the country are affected, not just the north in the first wave.

The total death rate remained relatively low at 94 for the month of August and the Lancet medical journal states that coronavirus was under control as recently as May, with no excess deaths. But Italy recorded about 300 deaths in September and 2,500 deaths in October, though that’s still below the death rate of the first wave, which saw more than 900 deaths in 24 hours on 24 March. Still, as of mid-November, Italy is averaging about 500 deaths per day, with 753 deaths in 24 hours recorded on 18 November.

Recorded deaths stand at about 12,000 for first three weeks of November.

The rules:

Much of Italy is back under a strict open-ended lockdown. Italy’s red zones with the highest infection rate include about 16.5 million people out of a total population of 60 million. In those zones, residents can only leave home for work, healthcare essential shopping or emergencies. All non-essential shops are closed, according to the BBC.

Naples and Florence were declared coronavirus red zones on 13 November. Starting 26 October, all bars and restaurants across the country close by 6 p.m. for a month, though schools and workplaces remain open.

Gyms, swimming pools, theatres and cinemas are closed and Italians are “strongly recommended” against leaving their homes and neighborhoods except for school, work or medical treatment.

The Lombardy region is back in lockdown as of 22 October. That includes a curfew for non-essential activity between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Large shops will shutter on Saturdays and Sundays.

Lombardy, which includes the financial center of Milan, accounts for about 128,400 of the over 423,500 coronavirus cases detected in Italy since the pandemic hit Italy last February, according to swissInfo.ch.

As of 1 October, authorities ordered all dance venues and nightclubs closed down again. As of 7 October, masks are are mandatory outdoors and suggested indoors when hosting friends.

Other rules include:

• ballrooms and clubs remain closed, while in sports amateur group activities are going to be suspended.

• stadiums will stay open, though with capacity limited to 15 percent, and a maximum of 1,000 people in outdoor arenas and 200 people indoors.

• schools are open but students school trips are suspended.

The border:

Brits returning to the UK from Italy must self-isolate and only essential travel is recommended. If you’re going to Italy, Brits must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours before travelling or get tested on arrival

Italy’s current rise in coronavirus cases is attributed to  residents recently returned home vacations in Spain, Peru, Malta, Croatia and Greece, according to officials. But it is still on the UK’s list of approved destinations.

Still, you have to self-isolate for 14 days as you enter Italy from any country outside Europe.

In August, Italy introduced compulsory testing upon arrival for people coming from Spain, Malta and Croatia and later added large parts of France, the U.K., the Netherlands, Belgium and the Czech Republic. 

COVID-19 PCR test is required within 72 hours of arrival for people coming from:

  • Croatia
  • Greece
  • Malta
  • Spain
  • UK


Country profile:

As of 22 November, the country has reported about 30,333 confirmed cases – up 35 percent from October – and 262 deaths. From mid-March into early April, Luxembourg had one of the highest infection rates in the world, but got the situation under control quickly. The duchey began easing coronavirus restrictions on Monday, 20 April along with an order that the public cover their mouths when entering confined spaces such as public transport or shops.

Luxembourg saw one of Europe’s fastest recoveries and was the first major economy in Western Europe to go consecutive days with no coronavirus deaths, recording zero deaths since 24 May. It even shut off its COVID-19 hotline on 13 June.

Now, Luxembourg is experiencing an increasingly severe second wave of infections, with a spike of 892 new coronavirus cases within a 24-hour period on 18 November, seven times the number of cases in one day compared to the first wave. As of late-November, Luxembourg is averaging more than 700 new cases every 24 hours.

If that rate doesn’t fall below 500 new cases every 24 hour, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel has stated a lockdown could begin in late November tha would last till late December.

There were only four total deaths in July and 10 in August. There were no coronavirus-related deaths recorded between 17 August and 1 October, but that streak ended. There were about 30 deaths recorded in October and 83 reported so far in November as of the 21st.


Luxembourgish officials stated on 17 October that they would not impose new measures, then promptly imposed new measures on 23 October.

They include:

• a curfew between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

• a reduction of the people allowed for gatherings to four from 10.

• cancellation of sporting events except for the semi-professional football league.

• Masks are mandatory for gatherings in both public and private settings, if physical distance of two meters cannot be guaranteed while remaining seated. (This rule does not apply to markets.)

• Face masks are still mandatory on all public transport and in indoor public places. Children under the age of six are exempted.

Here is the official government page.

The border:

Then Netherlands and Germany have put Luxembourg back on travel blacklists. Anyone entering Germany has to provide a negative COVID-19 test or quarantine for two weeks.

A negative coronavirus test must not be more than 48 hours old. Also on the list of high-risk countries and regions are several French departments, and the Belgian region around Brussels.

Luxembourg’s borders with neighbors are open but as of 30 July, arrivals from Luxembourg to the UK must self-isolate for 14 days. On 14 July, Germany has declared Luxembourg a risk zone and advises against all non-essential travel.

As of 12 August, anyone traveling to the Grand-Duchy from most non-EU countries will have to present a negative test for Covid-19 taken no later than 48 hours before the flight.


Country profile:

Unlike their German neighbors, the Dutch just aren’t that into rules, but Lord knows officials tried so the health care system wouldn’t be overloaded with COVID-19 cases.

That didn’t work, to say the least, and the country instituted a partial lockdown in October as cases, coronavirus hospital admissions and deaths rose. That lockdown is scheduled to end 15 December, but with infection rates dropping, officials already are talking about reopening cinemas, museums and libraries, with bars, restaurants and café back open by Christmas.

Starting in late July, the country entered a severe second wave that just keeps getting worse, with 11,119 cases in 24 hours on 30 October, up from as few as 36 cases in early July and almost nine times higher than the previous pandemic peak of 1,300 cases in 24 hours on 10 April. However, the infection rate has dropped to an average of about 5,550 new cases per day as of 22 November.

None of this is a surprise. Dutch health officials predicted in September that the Netherlands could see as many as 5,000 cases per 24 hours, a prediction that proved wildly optimistic.

A lot of this is due the rate of testing increasing 10-fold. Unlike the UK, the Netherlands has no shortages of COVID-19 testing kits or healthcare personnel. Health Minister Hugo de Jonge has said the goal is to have a testing capacity increased of 70 thousand people per day.

The trouble is, deaths have increased as well. The Netherlands recorded 62 deaths for the month of August. That more than doubled to about 150 total for September, then tripled to about 750 deaths reported for October. For November, there have been 1,340 reported as of the 21st.

The Netherlands, where Dispatches Media is based, is the ultimate “whatever” country with no significant pandemic restrictions. During a 17 November trip to Maastricht, we noted (a few) more people wearing masks and most people were sort of social-distancing.

The rules:


Effective 1 December (why do they give weeks-long windows on these pandemic measures?) facemasks will be mandatory indoors in public spaces. As of 21 November, they’re merely recommended. Which means you see half of the people unmasked in every supermarket and store. Though some stores are making them verplicht (required) to enter, with security people enforcing the rules.

The Netherlands has had Europe’s most dramatic rise in coronavirus infection rates, with cases in the second week of October rising 60 percent over the previous week.

So on 12 October, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced a partial lockdown that will last eight weeks and includes closing restaurants and bars till mid-December and even the “coffee” shops have to close early. Restaurants and café are still allowed to continue carry-out service and hotels are open.

Rules include a limit of three visitors in home homes (not counting children under 13). These rules apply both indoors and outdoors (balconies and gardens) and went into effect as of 19 August, then were renewed on 28 September.

Rutte said earlier suggestions are still in place: Dutch residents should work from home as much as possible, workout alone, shop for groceries alone, keep the 1.5 meter distance from others and self-isolate at any sign of illness.

In a major blow to everyone’s morale, Dutch nightclubs will be closed until there’s a vaccine. Bummer ….

The borders:

As of 15 August, the Netherlands is on the UK’s quarantine list, with all arrivals isolating for 14 days. Brits arriving in the Netherlands do not face quarantine.

People arriving from these countries/regions are asked (but not legally required) to self-quarantine for 10 days:

  • Andorra
  • Aruba
  • Austria: Innsbruck and Vienna
  • Belgium: the city of Antwerp, Brussels-Capital Region, provinces of Liège and Walloon Brabant
  • Bonaire
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark: city of Copenhagen and the city of Odense
  • France: Paris, the departments of Bouches-du-Rhône, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-de-Marne, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-et-Marne, Essonne, Val-d’Oise, Yvelines, Sarthe, Rhône, Gironde, Haute-Garonne, Gard, Var, Vaucluse, Hérault, Alpes-Maritimes and Loiret, Côte-d’Or, Seine-Maritime, Nord, Corse-du-Sud, Haute Corse, l’Ain, Ille-et-Vilaine, Isère, Loire, Loire-Atlantique, Maine-et-Loire, Pas-de-Calais, Puy-de-Dôme, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Pyrénées-Orientales, Tarn-et-Garonne, Aveyron, Bas-Rhin, Haute-Marne, Indre-et-Loire, Landes, Marne, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Seine-Maritime, Tarn, Vienne, Ariège, Aube, Charente, Doubs, Gers, Haute Loire, Haues-Pyrénées, Haute Vienne, Oise, Somme and Saône et Loire. 
  • Greece: all Greek islands. The Peloponnese and the Greek mainland are excluded.  
  • Hungary: Budapest
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Portugal: Area Metropolitana de Lisboa and Leziria do Tejo
  • Romania
  • St Maarten
  • Spain, including the Balearic Islands of Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera and the Canary Islands of Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa among others.
  • Switzerland: Cantons of Geneva, Freiburg and Vaud

A covid testing station is in place at Schiphol Airport to test both arrivals and departures. If you test positive upon arrival, or refuse testing, you’ll be required to quarantine for 14 days, though just who enforces this is not clear.

Otherwise, all border are open as of 18 June. Tourists from EU or Schengen countries are welcome, anyone coming from the UK “is strongly advised to go into quarantine for 14 days.” However, the Netherlands has lifted the quarantine requirement for Sweden.


Country profile:

Unlike Sweden next door, Norway instituted strict coronavirus measures on 12 March, the strictest since World War II. As a result, researchers there were no “excess deaths” – deaths above the expected number, based on previous years – in Norway during the first wave of the pandemic. During that time, 90 percent of coronavirus deaths happened among people with underlying conditions.

With intense testing of hundreds of thousands of residents and a small population, Norway has recorded about 32,500 cases and 306 deaths as of 21 November. New cases recorded in 24 hours averaged about 300 for October in a persistent second wave, which saw a 12 November spike of 717 cases in 24 hours. There were nine deaths recorded during the month of August, 10 in September, seven in October and 24 for the first three weeks of November.

With multiple COVID-19 vaccines coming on the market, Norway will make them free to citizens.

The rules:

Beginning 10 November, new pandemic measures – termed “social closure” – go into effect including bars and businesses serving alcohol, gyms and cinemas closing in Oslo. Restaurants, however, remain open. They just can’t serve booze. All socializing outside homes is forbidden with the exceptions of funerals.

Stores and malls remain open, but must enforce social distancing.

On 26 October, the maximum number of attendees for private events outside the home was cut to 50 from 200. Norwegians were told not to host more than five guests.

It wasn’t until 14 August that Norwegian authorities required people to wear face masks while using public transportation in and around Olso after a second wave of infections and deaths. Sure enough, that wave has already plateaued as of 1 October.

Now masks are mandatory in Oslo.

The border:

Any non-residents entering the country must now show a negative Covid-19 test taken in the previous 72 hours or quarantine. Those arriving from “red” countries must quarantine in a designated hotel.

Norwegian officials are advising against travel to neighboring Sweden. As of 19 September, Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is advising against any trip to Estonia, the region of Southern Savonia in Finland and to the regions Zealand and North Jutland in Denmark.

Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs urges citizens to avoid non-essential travel to:

Belgium, Andorra, Bulgaria, France, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Iceland, Croatia, Italy, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Monaco, the Netherlands, Malta, Portugal, Poland, San Marino, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, the United Kingdom, Spain, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Hungary, Germany, Austria, Vatican City State, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.

Norwegian officials reopened its borders 15 July to EU and EEA countries and even Sweden. Officials have announced all countries that were previously marked green on the travel advisory have now been marked yellow after increased infections in several of the “green countries”.

The border with Russia is likely to remain closed at least until the end 2020.


Country profile:

Portugal, along with Denmark and Greece, came through the first months of the coronavirus with flying colors. Business Insider has a post about how Portugal shares a border with Spain but has a COVID-19 death toll 30 times lower.

But after a low of 98 new cases reported on 11 May, Portugal has a severe second wave with daily confirmed new cases are averaging more than 4,000 per day since 1 October, reaching a peak of 7,497 on 4 November.

But it’s deaths that have risen most precipitously. There were a total of about 70 deaths in August and about 125 in September. There were about 500 deaths in October. There have been about 1,200 recorded in November as of the 21st, with a spike of 91 on 16 November.

The rules:

Travel between municipalities will be banned from 11 p.m. on 27 November to 5 a.m. on 1 December, and then again from 11 p.m. on 4 December to 5 a.m. on 9 December to prevent movement around national holidays on 1 December and 8 December, according to Reuters.

As of 5 November, Portugal has imposed a second state of emergency, with a curfew imposed from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. for the country’s 121 municipalities – about 70 percent of the population. In much of the country, people cannot leave their home between 1 p.m. and 5 a.m. on weekends until the end of November.

On 26 October, Portuguese officials said stricter pandemic restrictions might be coming as the number of COVID-19 patients is near record levels … and ICUs are at 50-percent capacity. (Prior to the pandemic, Portugal had the lowest number of critical-care beds in Europe, according to Reuters.)

In these areas, people will only be allowed to leave their homes to go to work, school or shopping, and companies will have to switch to remote work.

Three northern cities went into partial lockdown on 30 October.

The borders:

A number of countries including the UK have Portugal on their “red lists,” requiring new arrivals to quarantine. Anyone arriving in Scotland from Portugal must quarantine for 14 days, with more restrictions on the way.

Portugal ended flight restrictions to destinations outside the Schengen Area on 15 June.

The land border with Spain opened 1 July, which is when flights from Spain and Italy resumed. But as noted above, Portugal remains on the UK’s list of countries from where arrivals must quarantine for 14 days.


Country profile:

After an impressive recovery, Spain is back in trouble, struggling with a new wave of infections that beginning to exceed rates in the early days of the pandemic as the country passed the 1.5 million cases mark. Since 1 August, the number of new cases every 24 hours has averaged about 16,000 with a spike of more than 22,516 cases on 6 November.

But as with Portugal, it’s the death rate that’s defined this second wave, which is starting to match the first wave.

There were more than 2,000 deaths in September and 267 reported in 24 hours on 27 October alone. There were bout 3,200 total deaths reported in October and about 4,600 in November as of the 21st, with a peak of 435 on 17 November.

Spain has the third-highest number of deaths at about 42,600, behind Italy and the UK.

Spanish officials concede data collection is so flawed that no one really knows how many new cases and deaths are occurring daily and anti-shutdown demonstrations had turned violent on 1 November.

The rules:

As in Portugal, Spain is closing some areas during local and national holidays. You can see a detailed explanation here in El Pais.

On 26 October, Spanish officials announced a nationwide curfew from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., with the central government declaring a “state of alert” giving it power over the provinces to set pandemic restrictions. The leaders of Spain’s 17 regions and two autonomous cities still have the authority to modify the start and end times of the curfew in their territory by an hour.

Meetings are limited to six people, at this point, though there are likely to be additional restrictions announced.

El Pais in English has the most complete listing of all the restrictions region by region.

Before the state of alert, health policy was set by Spain’s regional governments, meaning each administration set its own course and Catalonia (Barcelona) closed all restaurants and bars starting 16 October.

Aragon introduced capacity limits at bars and restaurants and banned the sale of alcohol in shops between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.

At least 22 other municipalities across Spain have also have new restrictions including the entire cities of León and Palencia in Castile-León region.

Masks were already required in public where social distancing is impossible: “Using masks will be compulsory on the street, in open spaces and any closed place of public use, when it is not possible to maintain a safe distance of at least two metres,” according to new law. You can see the latest information on the Ministry of Health website here.

The borders:

Some good news for Spain – the Republic of Ireland announced on 11 November that passengers returning to Ireland from any red country, including Spain, can submit themselves for a Covid PCR test after self-isolating for just five days. Otherwise, Spain is on just about every Red List.

On 28 July UK officials abruptly reintroduced quarantine measures on Brits returning from Spain, infuriating their Spanish counterparts, Britain’s struggling airlines and Spanish hoteliers trying to salvage the 2020 vacation season.

The Dutch followed suit on 23 August, recommending only essential travel to Spain.


Country profile

Sweden has officially joined the rest of Europe, with an accelerating infection rate, though daily deaths are declining.

As of 21 November, the country had reported about 208,000 confirmed coronavirus case, 6,406 deaths … and for awhile, a flattening of the trend lines. Then Sweden, like every other country in Europe, entered a second COVID-19 wave, with the country reporting one of the worst rates of infection.

The 14-day cumulative number of cases of COVID-19 in Sweden roughly doubled to 557 per 100,000 people on 17 November from 272 on 3 November 3, according to Politico.

Hospitalizations have also increased, with more than 1,000 COVID-19 patients currently in hospitals, a 60-percent increase from the first week of November, according to multiple media reports.

On 7 August, daily new cases dropped to about 41, but the average for September through October was about 1,800 new cases every 24 hours. Sweden recorded as few as 106 new cases on 13 September before the infection rate spiked to 5,764 cases every 24 hours on 11 November. Sweden recorded about 36 total deaths in August, 35 for September and about 36 total for October. Deaths in November stand at about 160 as of 21 November.

But the number of deaths every 24 hours has dropped to 12 on 21 November for a peak of 22 on 9 November.

One number really tells the story – Sweden has 633 coronavirus deaths per million inhabitants, compared with 56 per million in Norway, 135 per million in Denmark and 68 per million in Finland.

Sweden chose to protect its economy rather than its population … and that approach is working, with Sweden in better economic shape than the rest of Europe, according to Goldman Sachs.

Every major media outlet in the world has parsed the Swedish approach, which resulted in more infections and deaths that in neighboring Scandinavian countries, but fewer than in countries that had lockdowns such as Italy and Spain.

The rules:

With cases rising, official started to implement restrictions on 3 November including limits restaurants and cafés, with a maximum of eight people at any table. Now, alcohol sales are prohibited after 10 p.m., though bars, cafés and restaurants are open. Stockholm has reintroduced a ban on people visiting elderly care homes.

But before now, the country’s leaders have relied on collective action and Swedish citizens practicing voluntary social distancing by choice. They were instructed to use their judgment, and to take individual responsibility rather than top-down control. Sweden left its schools, gyms, cafes, bars, and restaurants open throughout the pandemic. Instead, the government has urged citizens to act responsibly and follow social distancing guidelines.

Sweden has opted for a calmer – and highly controversial – approach led by the state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell. Instead of draconian lockdown, social distancing is a matter of self-regulation, according to the Guardian.

According to Bloomberg News, analysts believe that in refusing to close down businesses, the Swedish economy could have an easier time rebounding economically than countries that have shuttered businesses completely. However, Denmark’s “pigs and pills” (pharmaceuticals and agriculture) economy is in better shape than Sweden’s, with its heavy reliance on the auto sector, aviation and precision manufacturing.

The borders:

The UK renewed its 14-day quarantine requirement on 6 November for anyone arriving from Sweden. Norway is now warning its citizens not to travel to Sweden.

Sweden had only had restrictions on some non-EU citizens, but that’s changing.

People from the following non-EU countries are allowed to travel to Sweden as of 15 August:

  • EU/EEA, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, Switzerland, Vatican City
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Georgia
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Rwanda
  • South Korea
  • Thailand
  • Tunisia
  • Uruguay

More EU countries including Germany are welcoming Swedes and dropping their coronavirus quarantine requirements.


Country profile:

Partly due to its proximity to early virus hotspots in Northern Italy, the COVID-19 pandemic had a fast and furious effect on this Alpine country. The Swiss instituted nation-wide rules relatively late in the game, with schools closed and and gatherings of more than 100 banned.

Now that fast-and-furious cycle is repeating itself.

Switzerland has reported massive new wave of daily cases rising to 21,962 in 24 hours on 2 November from 550 cases in one day on 1 October, with increasing hospital admissions. While the infection rate is declining in late November to an average of about 5,000 daily new cases, deaths are not. (See the chart above.)

There were about 22 deaths in August, about 70 in September and about 142 total in October. So far in November, Switzerland has reported a dramatic rise in deaths … about 1,450 as of 21 November.

ICUs are full and hospitals in Geneva are asking for volunteer docs and administrators to relieve overworked staff and allow employees to take a break.

The rules:

There is still no second lockdown even as deaths rise in November. But there are new rules.

Mask wearing is compulsory outdoors; hospitality venues must close at 11 p.m.; indoor gatherings of more than 10 people are banned;and no more than four people can sit together in a bar or restaurant unless they are related and live together. Masks are mandatory in indoor public places including shops, banks, churches and cinemas. An order to wear masks on public transport has been extended to cover train stations, airports, bus and tram stops across all of Switzerland.

Some cantons are imposing stricter measures including Basel, Geneva and Jura.

The borders:

Germany has added all of Switzerland to its risk list rather than just select cantons. Switzerland is cutting a number of cross-border trains including five trains to different destinations in Italy and the TGV service between France and Geneva.

Starting Monday, 28 September, Switzerland will require people arriving from the Netherlands to self-quarantine for 10 days. Also effective 28 September, people arriving from Brittany (France), Liguria (Italy), Upper and Lower Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Ecuador, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Jamaica, Luxembourg, Morocco, Nepal, Oman, Portugal, Slovenia and the United Kingdom must self-quarantine.

Switzerland has imposed a 10-day quarantine on people arriving from nine of 13 French regions, including Île-de-France around Paris. Travellers coming from Vienna also must quarantine. Spain was already on the list, which you can see here.

On 11 September 2020, Switzerland announced that people entering Switzerland after spending time in regions next to the country’s national borders will be exempted from mandatory quarantine requirements even if those regions have high infection rates. Cross-border worker are already exempted from quarantine requirements.

People entering Switzerland from 55 nations must now quarantine for 10 days. These include Croatia and San Marino in Europe. On 7 September 2020, 8 nations were removed from the list including Belgium and Luxembourg.


Country profile:

Not much Nothing has gone well for the United Kingdom in the pandemic, though Spain just passed the UK in total number of Covid-19 cases. All those programs Boris Johnson promised – more protective gear for healthcare workers, more testing and contact-tracing apps – never happened after the UK got a late start checking the virus. Now, the UK is entering a second lockdown as of the first week of November through 2 Decemeber.

Only in the third week of March did Britain finally join the rest of Europe in announcing a lockdown. On Sunday, 22 March, the PM instituted a “stay at home lockdown,” ordering all shops closed other than supermarkets and pharmacies.

Then Johnson himself was infected, hospitalized and released. With more than 48,475 as of 7 November, UK is European country with the most total coronavirus deaths because – as the Guardian puts it – no other European country put the village idiot in charge. 

The UK’s trend lines were favorable until a second pandemic wave hit, with a peak of 33,470 new cases on 12 November and infection rates rising every day in September but two. Daily new cases averaged about 1,100 per day for August from a one-day high of almost 8,700 on 10 April, the shot up to about 17,000 for October, taking the UK to infection rates double those at the height of the first wave, with patients pouring into hospitals.

Unlike other countries in Europe, deaths have spiked in a second wave of infection, with well over 1,000 for July and more than 150 in August, then 430 deaths recorded in September. For all of October, the UK recorded about 2,900 COVID-19 related deaths.

So far in November, there have been about 10,000 deaths recorded as of 21 November. However, a study by Exeter University has found that the death rates of people in hospitals are dropping by half from the peak of the pandemic.

Bottom line: Boris has pretty much united the country in that no one – left, right or center – except for Carrie Symonds thinks he’s doing a good job or understands exactly what his pandemic approach even is as he’s jumped from one complicated and contradictory policy to the next.

CNN has a deep dive into what has gone wrong, which includes pretty much everything from lack of protective gear for healthcare workers to the virus rampaging through care homes.

The rules:

The rules in the UK are more complicated than Boris Johnson’s love life. There are lockdowns, then a Christmas reprieve from 22 December thru 28 December followed by a return to areas zoned by infection rates. Churches, pubs and restaurants might reopen nationwide for that Christmas period … unless of course Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland decide to impose their own rules.

On 5 November, the UK entered another national lockdown until at least 2 December. All non-essential businesses are closed. Everyone must stay in their homes other than to go to work, to go for medical care or to go to school.

All non-essential retail will close as will gyms, sports facilities, theaters, movies and activity centers. Add to the list salons and tattoo parlors and pretty much everything is closed but takeaway spots and supermarkets. Brits cannot travel internationally or within the UK except for work, school or “other legally permitted exemptions,” according to government officials.

When the UK reopens, the tiered system we never understood returns.

The interesting part of all this is that Johnson ignored his own scientists and public health experts weeks ago to institute a two-week lockdown, which the experts say was too little, too late. Again.

The borders:

With the lockdown on 5 November, Brits are advised to avoid all non-essential travel in the UK and abroad until 2 December … which means no foreign holidays and staycations in the UK are banned. But, as of 15 December, the UK will cut its quarantine period to five days from 14 if you get a COVID-19 test, which will set you back somewhere in the neighborhood of 125 pounds.

Meanwhile, British officials are busy adding new countries to their already extensive list requiring a 14-day quarantine list. As of 12 September, the UK has added Portugal (as predicted), Hungary, French Polynesia and Reunion island. Sweden and Italy are likely to join them but haven’t as of 27 October.

British tourists panicked on Friday, 14 August when France became the latest, though the requirement didn’t go into effect until the next day. Which led to a rush on private jet rentals as an estimated 160,000 Brits rushed to make the deadline.

British officials also are advising against travel to certain parts of Greece.

Effective 20 August, arrivals from Croatia also must quarantine, setting off another rush to beat the deadline. Conversely, Portugal is on the verge of being taken off the list as infections decrease.

Belgium, Malta, the Netherlands, the Turks and Caicos and the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba are on the list effective 15 August. Greece and Switzerland are odds on favorites to be added before the end of November.

The post Expat Essentials: Dispatches’ complete guide to pandemic rules, restrictions across Europe (updated) appeared first on Dispatches Europe.

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Inka Piegsa-Quischotte in Spain: Astro tourism (and beaches) in the Canary Islands https://dispatcheseurope.com/inka-piegsa-quischotte-in-spain-astro-tourism-and-beaches-in-the-canary-islands/ https://dispatcheseurope.com/inka-piegsa-quischotte-in-spain-astro-tourism-and-beaches-in-the-canary-islands/#respond Thu, 19 Nov 2020 15:13:17 +0000 https://dispatcheseurope.com/?p=78084 (Editor’s note: Dispatches is not recommending travel to the Canary Islands, but it is possible to do so from some countries in Europe. Check travel restrictions, which are changing daily including requirements for COVID-19 tests. You can see our complete list of pandemic measures here.) The United Kingdom is currently living through her second lockdown […]

The post Inka Piegsa-Quischotte in Spain: Astro tourism (and beaches) in the Canary Islands appeared first on Dispatches Europe.

(Editor’s note: Dispatches is not recommending travel to the Canary Islands, but it is possible to do so from some countries in Europe. Check travel restrictions, which are changing daily including requirements for COVID-19 tests. You can see our complete list of pandemic measures here.)

The United Kingdom is currently living through her second lockdown to prevent the spreading of COVID-19. Government officials are hoping life will be back to “sort of” normal before Christmas, which means a national favorite – winter holidays in the sun – will not be possible.

Not to worry.

One of the most popular destinations is Spain. Alas, the country is more or less closed and strict curfew rules are in place. That doesn’t mean you need to abandon your plans for beaches and sunshine, the Canary Islands are the exception.

Not only are they on the current safe travel list for the UK, they are also exempt from the nightly curfew between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. which has brought the nightlife in the rest of Spain to a halt.

The Canaries may already be on the bucket list of many Brits because of the glorious weather in winter and the fabulous beaches. But, there is another activity you might not have heard of which you can enjoy on several islands: stargazing.

It’s not only pretty to watch the sparkling stars and the Milky Way in all their glory, it also has a positive psychological effect in our difficult times: seeing the enormity of the firmament soothes the soul and puts things into perspective.

The Canary Islands, just a few miles off the coast of North Africa, have one of the clearest and unpolluted night skies in the world. That’s the reason why scientists and amateur astronomers alike have come to the islands for years to observe the stars.

This form of travel actually has a name: astro tourism.

Observatories and giant telescopes have been installed on the highest peaks of several islands, run by professionals but open to visitors who have the benefit of first rate explanations and telescopes where the naked eye is not enough (in some places it even is!) Here we give you an overview over the best stargazing points on different islands with links so you can check visiting hours, tours, prices (if any) etc.


Stargazing on Tenerife can be quite an adventure. Teide National Park with the active volcano Pico de Teide in the middle and close to 4,000 meters high is the best observation location. It’s one of the Canary Islands’ three Starlight Reserves. They are Las Cañadas de Teide, Mount Izaña with a giant telescope, and Mount Guajara which can be reached by cable car.

Find all necessary information here.

What you can observe best are the Milky Way, Pegasus and Cassiopeia. And during the day? Enjoy the beaches , some volcanic and black, other with white sand. There are 10 to choose from. In between you can taste the distinctive Canary wines and great local food.

La Palma

This is the most northwestern of the Canary islands and can be reached either by ferry from Tenerife South or by air from Tenerife North. Much smaller than the other islands, it’s nonetheless the most prestigious of the stargazing observatories as it features the world’s largest optical infrared telescope run by the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias on top of the moonlike mountain area known as Roque de los Muchachos.

There are two more: San Borondon which is a rock terrace at sea level best for viewing the North Star and Llano de Jable, another Starlight Reserve great for Andromeda.

All three form part of the EU Skyroute.

There are several pretty beaches here too, although some are pebbly and black, all more suitable for water sport enthusiasts.

La Gomera

La Gomera is the smallest (apart from La Graciosa) island but BIG on stargazing. There is actually an entire stargazing route that you can follow from Mirador Cesar Manrique to Mirador El Santo, Mirador El Alojero and, finally, in the interior of the island, the rock formation and National Park of Garajonay.

Milky Way, Great and Little Bear and the red superstar Antares, all can be seen clearly. Here are the details.

La Gomera is best reached by ferry from Tenerife South. There are some nifty beaches too to enjoy during the day. And for the palate! La Gomera is famous for cheese, to be found in La Cabezada Diary. The rare and expensive Forastera grape is only grown here and produces a beautiful wine you simply must taste.

So, while in lockdown, dream about a Christmas under the stars during the night, on the beach during the day and enjoying cheese and great wine in between.

A final word to the wise: The rules for the UK and/or Spain can change any day and at very short notice. Check carefully before making any reservations.

About the author:

Inka Piegsa-Quischotte is an international attorney-turned-travel-and-lifestyle writer based in Spain. She has contributed to BBC/Travel, several in-flight magazines, TripSavvy (Spain) and TravelAwaits, among many other publications. After several years in Turkey, she now lives on Spain’s Costa Blanca.

See more of Inka’s work here.

Read more about Spain in our Dispatches archive here.

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Sarah Nagaty in Lisbon: To cope with culture shock, you have to understand culture shock https://dispatcheseurope.com/sarah-nagaty-in-lisbon-to-cope-with-culture-shock-you-have-to-understand-culture-shock/ https://dispatcheseurope.com/sarah-nagaty-in-lisbon-to-cope-with-culture-shock-you-have-to-understand-culture-shock/#respond Thu, 19 Nov 2020 04:55:07 +0000 https://dispatcheseurope.com/?p=77626 While culture shock is not a brilliant feeling, it is not necessarily an all-bad thing either. I used to be one of those people who completely dismissed culture shock as a possible explanation for my reactions to moving to a new place. I suppose I did not exactly know what the term entailed and the […]

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While culture shock is not a brilliant feeling, it is not necessarily an all-bad thing either. I used to be one of those people who completely dismissed culture shock as a possible explanation for my reactions to moving to a new place. I suppose I did not exactly know what the term entailed and the word “shock” kind of threw me off.

It may sound, at first, like something that happens to close-minded people who cannot stand coming into contact with customs and ways of life different from theirs. As people who travelled here and there, we find this impossible to take on board: “Of course I am not going through a cultural shock!”

In order to be able to tell whether we all go through cultural shock, we need to understand the real meaning of the concept.

Culture shock doesn’t necessarily feel like a shock

Cultural shock is a “multifaceted experience resulting from numerous stressors occurring in contact with a different culture.” (Winkelman 1994). Cultural shock happens to travellers worldwide whether they are foreign students, business associates, young professionals, or refugees.

Undoubtedly, people experience cultural shock differently depending on many variable factors. In most cases, cultural shock is experienced as a sense of impotence resulting from the perceived difficulty in dealing with an unfamiliar environment.

I found, after loads of research and conversations with more experienced expats, that cultural shock does not necessarily feel like a shock. It actually may manifest itself as an accentuated stress, loneliness, discontent, or it could feel like what happened to me: some problems emerge, which seem new to me, and which I never attributed to cultural issues at all.

I only thought of them as what they were – an unsuccessful professional meeting, an awkward conversation, an outing with friends I do not see eye to eye with, etc.

Here’s the thing: I had the right feelings about the meeting, the conversation, and the outing, but I never attributed these feelings to their true cause. I thought that I am losing my communication skills, and hence the meeting was not great, or that people are not so nice, and hence the outing felt uncomfortable.

Don’t whine – learn from the experience

It turns out that had I contextualized all these experiences in the frame of cultural shock, I would have seen them as things to learn from rather than whine over (not that I don’t recommend whining, I really do. But, like with wine, we need to know when to stop in order to avoid a hangover.)

Back home, I knew quite well how to navigate professional meetings. I also had a very specific understanding of what friendships are like. Naturally, in a different environment, I lost my built-in sensors with which I measure vibes, atmospheres and communication wavelengths.

This is what cultural shock entails: you cannot rely on your instincts and let them automatically, sometimes even unconsciously, guide you through different situations. You actually need to put in a lot of effort which leads to cognitive fatigue. Even if you speak the language, it is not only the words which you need to understand, but also the tone, the volume, facial expressions and gestures.

Funny; not funny

For example, one of the problems I face the most is humor. Humor is quite different from one place to another. However, for me, it was a bit more challenging than it is for others. We Egyptians, among Arab-speaking nations, are known to joke a lot (sometimes when inappropriate, to be honest). If we add to that that the Egyptian sense of humor tends to rely on self deprecation, teasing others, and sometimes looking serious when doing all that, that is a bit too specific.

Now, if we add to that that I am a bit above average, for Egyptians, when it comes to laughing about things, this is a bit “too too specific.”

Finally, take me to a professional context with Portuguese, German, British and French colleagues. Mix that in quite well. You will find me not mixing at all and actually rather floating on the surface. I simply did not know how much humor this mix is capable of taking in in a professional context.

In a non-professional context, it is not always much easier. If I make jokes the way I would back home, I might be perceived by some people as “too sassy” or “tough” when back home I will be described as “friendly” and “inclusive” when making the exact same jokes. Humor is how people who do not know each other bond in my country in order to get over the awkward moments. It is not the kindest sense of humor, maybe. But, the point is that it works there. It does not always work everywhere.

Some literature on cultural shock claims there are four stages of cultural shock:

• the honeymoon phase

• the crisis

• adjustment or negotiation

• adaptation

I do not fully agree with this as it truly varies from one person to another given all range of variables such as: the support system you have in the host country; the activity carried; how different your original culture is from the one you are arriving to. For example: are you a Chinese moving to Lisbon? Or are you a Spanish moving to Lisbon?

Also, financial means make a lot of difference: do you work around the clock to support yourself and/or your family? Or are you comfortable enough to go to an immersive language camp over the weekend?

Therefore, I believe in a more of a cyclical experience where we, as expats, waver between a sense of crises and adjustment. I also do not think that people fully adapt for eternity. Ask yourself this: Do we full adapt in our countries of origin where we grew up, speak the language, have a support system, and know the culture inside out?

I believe that high levels of adaptation are achievable though. I cannot guarantee where my journey will take me, but this is a list of what has worked so far

Become aware of it

Awareness of the process of cultural shock sometimes suffices to normalize our reactions and decrease hostility towards our new experiences. Try to remind yourself of this process and place your experience into perspective in order to act productively about matters posing a challenge.

  • Be a bit prepared

A factor contributing to the sense of stress associated with cultural shock is being away from one’s support system. Changes in personal life are no piece of cake. It is better to manage stress before being overtaken by it. I am good at staying in touch with friends and family back home. I found this to very helpful with stress relief.

Moreover, I have recently worked harder on establishing a social support network in my host country. And it is paying off big time. Something which I have no idea why I never thought of doing was to invest in non-verbal communication channels such as dance or sports groups. My friends who used to go to music jamming nights in bars in Lisbon or to Salsa nights or to football groups got to have a semi-institutional support system which they were immensely grateful for. Now, with the pandemic, I might need to hold on with that one.

  • Enjoy More

Problems will arise from immersion in a new environment. We need to expect and accept that. However, what makes it quite bearable is when we create more room for enjoying the experience. Enjoying oneself in a new culture allows for a healthier adjustment and for more tolerance of the emerging challenges.

I said in the beginning that “cultural shock” is not an entirely negative thing. Are not these challenges part of what we left our comfort zones for?

I believe that those of us living abroad are growing in quite different dimensions compared to other dimensions of growth we will be limited to if we stayed back home. It may feel unfamiliar sometimes and we may feel cognitive fatigue other times, but is not that sort of the point?

About the author:

Sarah Nagaty is a PhD researcher of cultural studies in Lisbon. She’s lived in Portugal for two years.

As a student of cultural studies, Sarah is drawn to what connects people from different backgrounds to new cultures and places, how they relate to their new surroundings and what kind of activities they could engage with in their new hometowns.

See all of Sarah’s Dispatches posts here.

See Dispatches’s Lisbon story archive here.

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Stephen Heiner in Paris: How to ‘normalize’ your tax contributions in France https://dispatcheseurope.com/stephen-heiner-in-paris-how-to-normalize-your-tax-contributions-in-france/ https://dispatcheseurope.com/stephen-heiner-in-paris-how-to-normalize-your-tax-contributions-in-france/#respond Wed, 18 Nov 2020 08:53:54 +0000 https://dispatcheseurope.com/?p=77002 (Editor’s note: This article about tax contributions in France originally appeared on The American in Paris. It’s reposted here with the permission of the author.) I’ve written about taxes numerous times over the years but I don’t think I’ve ever talked about what happens after you file them here in France. As 2020 winds to an end, […]

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(Editor’s note: This article about tax contributions in France originally appeared on The American in Paris. It’s reposted here with the permission of the author.)

I’ve written about taxes numerous times over the years but I don’t think I’ve ever talked about what happens after you file them here in France. As 2020 winds to an end, it’s as good a time as any to explain.

Annee Blanche

One of the numerous campaign promises that President Macron made years ago was a simplification of the tax and pension systems, and one of those reforms meant moving to a “present year” form of taxation instead of the trailing year system we have in the United States (we pay taxes on income we earned the previous year). On 1 January 2019, many people who were in salaried positions began being taxed for their income each time they received a paycheck.  

The idea was that since you were paying each month, you wouldn’t need to “save up” to pay taxes the following year. This meant that for many, 2018 would be considered as a “no tax” year, an “annee blanche,” since the government would theoretically only be looking at your 2019 earnings for your 2019 taxes. In practice, it’s pretty much the same as before, but with monthly deductions instead of a lump sum annual payment.

But that still means that your tax charges for any given year are based on what you earned in the previous year. If nothing changes for you financially, your taxation will always remain the same, unless legislation changes the tax code.

Avis d’Impot

Taxes in France are due at the end of May usually. This gives the Ministry of Finance all summer to process your returns and by September you will receive an important document for those who are on a citizenship journey: your “Avis d’impot sur les revenus et prelevements sociaux.”  

You’ll need at least five of these in which you are paying taxes (and making a sustainable income) as part of your citizenship dossier. These used to be mailed but now they are available as downloadable PDFs, which makes the normally scary “document a conserver” label pointless. No worry about having to keep a document on file that you can print on command.

This report verifies the return that you have made, though the Ministry of Finance is not bound to it. They can come back for you up to three years after a tax year for any errors or omissions that they find. So, if they have problems with your current return they will tell you. Otherwise they’ll accept it and tell you what remains to be paid for the current year.

So, let’s say that based on your 2019 return, the government estimated that if nothing changed in 2020, you would need to pay 100 euros per month, or 1,200 euros for the year. However, 2020 was good to you (maybe you had stock in Zoom) and you made more money. As a result, when you get your Avis back in September, the government says that instead of the 1200 euros that you were going to pay this year (which they smoothed into 100 euros/month), you now owe 1,600 euros.  

As such, your automatic deductions for September-December will double to 200 euros to get you to 1,600 euros total by the end of the year, and your 2021 contributions will now probably be 133.33 euros per month, unless you make more money in 2021, in which case you can expect those contributions to go up, or if you make less money, in which case the contributions go down.

Keep in mind that this is simply for your personal tax return. File a personal tax return in May, get an end-of-year regularization of your personal tax contributions in September.

Declaration Sociales des Independents

So, when you file your French personal taxes the Ministry of Finance makes the calculations and auto-adjusts your contributions. But it doesn’t work that way for filing your French business taxes. Once you’ve filed your business return, you’ll need to enter in certain values from your return into a website, in this case, it’s a website called net-entreprises.fr.

Now, I’m not your accountant, and that’s who you should be speaking with regarding these various boxes, as your business may have certain revenues and contributions that I have not made and vice versa. But the two most important numbers are going to be XA, which is your total profit, and XD, which is your total revenues (turnover). 

You’ll also need to report if you received certain benefits or have certain obligatory contributions, but at the end of all this you are going to push “submit.” This has to be done no later than the end of June normally, so unlike your personal taxes, which give you your new amounts owed in September, your revised business contributions to URSSAF will immediately display.

To follow the previous example, if you were paying 200 euros per month in contributions to URSSAF (if you don’t know, this is your social security and health care contribution as a business) based on your previous year’s revenues, and this year was better, they will increase your charges in September-December in order to make you current for the year, then create a new schedule of payments for you for the following year based on your new “normalized” revenues.

The corresponding document you will get from URSSAF will come much sooner than September, probably sometime in early August, and this year would look like: “Regularisation des Cotisations 2019 et Appel de Cotisations 2020.” URSSAF hasn’t yet caught up technology-wise with the Ministry of Finance so they are still sending these by mail, but I expect them to go paperless pretty soon. 

President Macron has been pushing the dematerialization agenda pretty hard across all government agencies and that’s a good thing: more digital documents + less paper = fewer things to lose.

In this same document they will give you an estimate for your monthly contributions for the following year but it’s only “provisional” as things can change. For example, this year URSSAF stopped taking our contributions beginning in March which didn’t mean our charges were forgiven, but that September-to-December of this year took up all the burden of the contributions that were not deducted from March-to-August

URSSAF did tell us that we could continue to manually make payments during this time, but they made it sufficiently complicated that the majority of us opted to take the “free rent” from the government and just wait until later in the year when the charges would catch up.

Digital Has Its Benefits

So I hope that you now have a better understanding of how taxes work in France and the fact that what you file in the spring has consequences in the autumn, for better or worse. An increasingly interconnected digital system across all the government agencies is reducing error and making managing your accounts easier, though of course this risks leaving behind the elderly, who are less comfortable with technology, or the poor, who don’t have ready access to the internet or computers. 

Thankfully there are agencies and associations trying to help these and other groups keep up with change in France.

About the author:

Singaporean-born American Stephen Heiner has been living in Paris since 2013, what he hopes to be a permanent home after living in Asia and the United States for most of his life. While he has an undergraduate degree in literature, he also has an MBA, and he’s very much the man who enjoys studying financial statements as much as he enjoys reading essays by G.K. Chesterton or James Howard Kuntsler.

He visits his family in the U.S. and Singapore each year, but in the meantime enjoys his dream city, which he finally had a chance to move to after selling a company he built over a number of years. 

You can find him on twitter and instagram @stephenheiner.

You can also follow his immigration journey on www.theamericaninparis.com, where Stephen also offers consulting to those interested in relocating to, and/or making a life in, France.

See more of Stephen’s Dispatches posts here.

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Eindhoven Business Briefing (updated): The ‘Artificial Intelligence is the future’ edition https://dispatcheseurope.com/eindhoven-business-briefing-the-artificial-intelligence-is-the-future-edition/ https://dispatcheseurope.com/eindhoven-business-briefing-the-artificial-intelligence-is-the-future-edition/#respond Tue, 17 Nov 2020 07:41:22 +0000 https://dispatcheseurope.com/?p=76552 Eindhoven already owns foundational semiconductor tech including photolithography. Now, Europe’s deep-tech hub is pushing into artificial intelligence, which has the potential to mind-meld human brains and computers. Why? Money. Lots of it. AI – though it’s still rudimentary technology – is a multi-trillion euro global business that touches everything from transportation and commuting to healthcare […]

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Eindhoven already owns foundational semiconductor tech including photolithography. Now, Europe’s deep-tech hub is pushing into artificial intelligence, which has the potential to mind-meld human brains and computers.

Why? Money. Lots of it.

AI – though it’s still rudimentary technology – is a multi-trillion euro global business that touches everything from transportation and commuting to healthcare to e-commerce.

To play in that sandbox, High Tech Campus Eindhoven officials just announced a new AI Innovation Center in collaboration with electronics and semiconductor multinationals Philips, based in Amsterdam, and Eindhoven-based ASMLNXP and Signify, an initiative “to drive the application of artificial intelligence technologies by companies and organizations in the Brainport Eindhoven region.”

Along with the announcement, Prof. Emile Aarts, dean of mathematics and computer science at Technical University of Eindhoven, gave a two-part presentation, a Masterclass in AI in Business, which you can see in full here on Youtube.

Aarts’ presentation made clear that China and the United States are, as usual, lightyears ahead. Especially the U.S., where IBM’s Watson and Deep Blue were the first modern proofs of an ancient concept – that machines can be taught to “think.”

IBM might have pioneered machine learning, but Aarts has explored how 21st century companies are turning machine learning/AI into gold.

Alibaba, a 20-year-old Chinese company which had $78 billion in 2019 top-line revenue, has built the world’s biggest AI discovery center, DAMO Academy, with 18 locations across the globe. At DAMO, they hire the most talented engineers, “turn them loose and make them happy,” Aarts said. “This is the way this company is doing its business. It’s really amazing.”

In pursuit of becoming the first $1 trillion company by 2030, Alibaba is focused on predictive behavior analytics, “understanding the customers’ needs and behavior,” Aarts said.

Google, one of the first companies to figure out how to make money with search engines, had 2019 revenue of more than $160 billion, and a net income of $30 billion, a 20-percent margin that gets totally reinvested in technologies such as artificial intelligence, Aarts noted. Google is spending $30 billion on AI research.

• It’s hard to remember that Amazon is only a 25-year-old company. But it’s a 25-year-old company with $281 billion in 2019 top-line revenue and 11.6 billion in net income. Amazon is focused on the predictive capabilities of AI for everything from making its e-commerce businesses more efficient to improving its Alexa and Echo devices, Aarts said. “They are into understanding the customer in terms of his or her needs; in terms of his or her behavior ….”

Apple really thinks future computing will happen with Apple devices and will make sure each device has sufficient computing power to do what consumers want to do in a secure terminal … your phone, Aarts said.

While Americans and Chinese have looked at artificial intelligence as an enhancement for online user experience and other digital services, Europeans have focused more on practical application. AI is most crucial in autonomous vehicles, and Europe does have a lead in that.

Aarts used BMW as an example of a company building automobiles, such as the i8, incorporating AI. This prototype uses IBM’s Watson cognition technology and the Blue Mix cloud platform with BMW’s ConnectedDrive technology to monitor and analyze driver behavior, he said.

So where does Eindhoven figure in all this? As part of the announcement of the artificial intelligence center on campus, Sebastiaan Laurijsse, Transformational Global Leader with NXP, remarked that “It all starts with silicon.” Obvious, yes. But it also succinctly sums up why Eindhoven has a chance to excel in this AI competition once it really gets started in Europe. Which it really hasn’t.

By the way, you didn’t hear this from us, but there will be more big news coming about AI efforts in Eindhoven … same bat time, same bat channel. And in the future, we’ll talk with the players so we can get an honest evaluation of Eindhoven’s potential to capture this technology the way ASML and NXP have captured their respective semiconductor sectors.

More about NXP

NXP doesn’t get the same sort of global pub as ASML, but both are always focused on what comes next in technology. In NXP’s case, that’s developing AI components and systems where people work and live – the “edge” of computer networks in tech talk.

From the NXP website:

NXP is a vanguard in the AI revolution with a portfolio of microcontrollers (MCUs) and processors optimized for machine learning applications ‘at the edge’ of networks, including thermostats, security systems, car sensors, robots and industrial automation and other devices, thereby making them not only intelligent but faster, more flexible and more secure.

Our insiders have forwarded several NXP news releases about the company’s AI focus including:

NXP just signed a deal 17 November with Amazon. NXP will use Amazon Web Services edge and cloud data storage with its new S32G vehicle network processor “for service-oriented gateway,” according to a media release. What we think that means is, NXP provides the chip and Amazon provides the analytics to optimize electric car performance including updating software and maintenance monitoring. The release is in indecipherable tech jargon, but there is a webinar scheduled for 19 November that might offer some insights for us non-tech folk.

AI Ethics Institute. The concern about artificial intelligence is that it intrudes on privacy at least and at worst, could be weaponized. NXP just published a white paper assuring the company will observe all ethical guidelines when it comes to algorithm transparency and privacy.

• MBS. NXP landed a huge order to supply Volkswagen with its battery management system. VW projects it will sell at least 15 million battery-pack vehicles by 2028 times about $800 per NXP MBS unit, totaling potentially a lot.

• NXP also is doing quite well, thank you, with its UWB products. Ultrawide Band Technology can be integrated into, for example, keys that allow people to lock and unlock doors with their mere presence, and allow home automation systems to follow their owners intuitively from one room to another so they spend less time searching for misplaced items.

Good news about NXP isn’t just good news for Eindhoven. NXP employs somewhere on the order of 30,000 people in 35 countries, including operations in American tech centers such as The Valley and Austin.

Cottonwood Technology closes Fund III

This small New Mexico-based VC isn’t big enough to make our list of venture capital firms active in Europe, but its representatives are here and they are investing. Cottonwood officials just announced they’ve closed their third fund. “This first close puts it on track to reach its target final close of 75 million euros to 100 million euros with 25 million euros currently on hand.

Cottonwood Technology Fund started in 2010 in the United States and opened an office in the Netherlands in 2014.

They’re looking to invest in companies that have IP and hard science patents in robotics, photonics, telecom, optics, automotive, clean energy, sensor technology, high-tech health, nanotechnology, chemicals and advanced materials.

SendCloud closes 12.6 million euro B round

This is one of the first scaleups we saw in Eindhoven that evoked the phrase “unlimited potential.” SendCloud, an e-commerce shipping platform with proprietary software used by 15,000 companies, was – circa 2015 – in a small office in the Tongelre neighborhood across the street from an Action store and a Turkish restaurant on a busy commercial intersection. Now, the company has its own building in Eindhoven as well as offices now in Munich.

SendCloud is in the news after raising 12.6 million euros in its Series B round mostly from AXA Venture Partners, the Paris-based investment arm of global insurance and financial services giant AXA.

The plan is to use the capital injection to add 200 new employees for a workforce of more than 400 people. What’s amazing about this is that SendCloud was only founded in 2012.

New apartments coming to Helmond; tower planned for centrum

Artist rendering of Victoriatoren

Even in a pandemic, the housing market remains robust. Especially in expat-centric cities such as Eindhoven. Demand seems to be strong and developers are still in the game. Holland2Stay just announced its first project in Helmond is coming on-line: The Castle.

Located opposite of Helmond’s actual castle, a not so beautiful former office building has been repurposed into 57 apartments. “The apartments will be fully furnished with high quality furniture and high level of finish. Tenants will be able to park their bikes and cars in the underground parking,” according to a media release.

Helmond is just east of Eindhoven, but very much in the Eindhoven metro area and near Nuenen, which has lots of great restaurants and a Van Gogh center.

The Castle will start accepting applications next month. You can see the details here.

On the drawing board is a huge new tower in the center of Eindhoven next to Holland2Stay’s existing Onyx and Victoria Park on Mathildelaan. The Victoriatoren will have 450 units in a skyscraper that looks to be pushing 25 stories, judging by the artist’s rendering at right. The tower is projected to open in 2021, but our experience is, city government and the developers will still be wrangling over whether Eindhoven needs yet another giant residential tower on its skyline.

We vote “yes.”

By the way, we’ve stayed in Holland2Stay properties including Victoria Park, and they do a good job of property management.

Quick hits:

• IBM is holding a Cloud and AI Summit on 19 and 29 November. You can see the details here. This is, of course, a virtual event.

Innovation Origins has a good post about Salvia BioElectronics, which is developing a new technology to treat migraine headaches. The startup uses neurostimulation – electrical pulses to reset the nervous system. It’s technology like this that has the potential to boost Eindhoven’s medtech sector.

• Our friend Menke Steenbergen is in the news. Menke, a veterinarian by training, founded IPOS, a tech startup that used sensors to collect data about how horses are performing both to monitor their health and to improve rider performance. It’s amazing technology and our Tier 1 Tech talent management subsidiary has plans to take this outstanding entrepreneur to the States for additional funding. Read the latest here on the Eindhoven Dagblad.

American logistics company XPO is entering the Dutch market with a new facility in the Eindhoven area, where they’re hiring 100 people.

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