Spain Closes To Unvaccinated U.S. Travelers Following Netherlands, Norway, Italy And Others

By Cecilia Rodriguez, Contributor
More European countries are closing to unvaccinated travelers. getty

Following a recent recommendation by the EU Council to tighten entry restrictions on travelers from the U.S., Spain has decided to ban non-vaccinated U.S. travelers from entering the country, except for absolutely essential purposes.

The decision by the Spanish Ministry of Health, Consumption and Social Welfare, removes the United States from the list of epidemiologically safe third countries whose travelers do not have to meet the standard Covid travel restrictions for non EU/EEA arrivals.

Americans had been able to enter Spain without restrictions since last June when, in a bid to help its hard hit tourism industry, the country added the U.S. to its low-risk travel list.

From this week, until new updates, according to Spain and Andorra’s embassy, travelers from the U.S.—and a handful of other third countries with worsening Covid figures—must be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before travel.

“Effective September 6, 2021, U.S. citizens can travel from the United States to Spain on non-essential travel, (such as tourism) if they show proof of vaccination. Please read the detailed information on the Spain Ministry of Health’s website,” advises the Embassy.

Additionally, U.S. citizens travelling from the United States to Spain must present upon arrival in Spain a QR code generated through the Spain Travel Health portal, obtained through the website or by downloading the “SpTH app” in Google Play Store or iTunes App Store for each traveler, regardless of their age.

Sad tourist wearing protective mask in Madrid Spain Travel cancellations rising due to renewed coronavirus restrictions. getty

Spain has also announced restrictions to travelers from France and Italy who now will have to present a vaccine certificate, demonstrate that they were previously infected with the virus, or present negative Covid-19 test results.

The list of third countries from which travelers do not have to meet the normal Covid non-EU/EEA travel restrictions for entry to Spain currently includes Albania, Saudi Arabia, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, China, South Korea, Japan, Jordan, New Zealand, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Serbia, Singapore and Ukraine.

The restrictions apply to all travelers from the U.S., even if they were visiting a third-party country before entering Spain.

Non-vaccinated travelers or those whose vaccination does not meet the criteria set by Spanish authorities, can only enter if they belong to one of the following groups:

Residents of EU, Schengen Area, Andorra, Monaco, The Vatican (Holy See) or San Marino en route to their country of residence; EU/Schengen Area long-stay visa holders traveling to that country; Health professionals, including health researchers and elderly care professionals; Transport personnel, seafarers and aeronautical personnel; Diplomatic and consular personnel; The staff of international organizations, military, civil protection and members of humanitarian organizations; Students at universities in the EU, Iceland, Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Norway, who have the corresponding permit or visa and medical insurance; Highly qualified workers whose work is essential and cannot be postponed or carried out remotely; Persons traveling for important family reasons; People in a situation of force majeure or who need to enter for humanitarian reasons.

Those travelers who are exempt from the entry ban on non-vaccinated travelers still must present proof of previous Covid-19 infection or negative Covid-19 test results.

Children under the age of 12 do not have to present any kind of certificate. Those between the ages of 12 and 18 must have a vaccination certificate.

Other Countries Following EU Recommendation

Alongside five other third countries – Israel, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Lebanon – the U.S. was removed by the European Union Council from its list of epidemiologically safe third countries, last August 30th.

The EU authorities advised its 27 Member States to impose stricter travel restrictions for arrivals from those countries and banning non-essential travel.

Spain is not the only one following the Council recommendation: The governments of the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Italy have announced the tightening of travel restrictions for arrivals from the United States.

New Restriction around Europe for U.S travelers. getty

The Netherlands

To enter the Netherlands, U.S. vaccinated travelers are also required to present a negative result of the Covid-19 test or a negative antigen test taken within 24 hours before departure.

“According to the Netherlands’ government, vaccinated travelers from the United States have to follow the ten-day mandatory quarantine rule when entering the Netherlands,” writes SchengenVisaInfo.

“However, the government clarified that the quarantine period could be shortened if travelers test negative for the Covid-19 on day five. Children under age 12 are excluded from the self-isolation requirement.”

Scandinavian Countries

Norway’s Ministry of Health and Care Services also announced the removal of the United States from its “purple list” of epidemiologically safe third countries, due to the surge in Covid-19 infections.

“Six countries have been removed from the list and will no longer be considered in relation to the list of purple countries. These are the countries of Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, and the United States,” the statement reads.

“Everyone arriving in Norway from abroad, with the exception of those arriving from green countries/regions in Europe, must go into quarantine, although there are some exemptions. If you are travelling or intend to travel, it is important that you keep up-to-date with the rules that apply to you.”

Sweden and Denmark have also announced the tightening of travel restrictions for arrivals from the United States.

Denmark, where American tourists have been able to enter with a negative coronavirus test or proof of recovery until last week, moved the U.S. to its "orange" travel advisory category, which means that they will need to show vaccination certificate.

Some unvaccinated people from the U.S. with “a worthy purpose" such as work, school or legal matters can still enter Denmark with proof of a negative Covid-19, but they will be required to quarantine.

As for Sweden: U.S. travelers wont be able to enter the country regardless of vaccination status.

“Sweden has removed the United States from its list of countries whose residents are exempted from its entry ban. U.S. citizens who reside in an exempted country are still exempt from the entry ban. The list of exempted countries can be found on the website of the Swedish Border Police,” the U.S. Embassy in Sweden informs.

The Swedish Ministry of Justice has left some opening to the possibility that vaccinated U.S. travellers could soon be permitted to enter Sweden restriction-free, “even for tourism purposes, as the country’s government is considering such a possibility,” SchengenVisaInfo writes.

Finland’s U.S. Embassy has informed that only fully vaccinated Americans are permitted entry.

“Vaccinated travelers from all countries (including the United States) are now permitted to enter Finland,” the U.S. Embassy in Finland said in a statement.

“Finland permits tourists from other countries to enter its territory if they have taken the last dose of any Covid-19 vaccine recognized as valid proof of immunity for travel, at least two weeks before their arrival.”

Road sign indicating essential travel only due to the Covid-19 renovated restrictions getty

Italy, Belgium, Germany, France

Italy has added testing and quarantine to the requirements for unvaccinated U.S. visitors. Vaccinated travelers will need to add recent negative testing to the proof of vaccination.

Belgium also requires vaccination certificate: “The United States is currently a ‘red zone outside the European Union,’” the U.S. Embassy in Belgium warns.

“Travelers arriving from the United States do not require a PCR test prior to entry if they have a valid vaccination certificate. Those without a valid vaccination certificate (and with an exemption or essential reason for travel as determined by Belgian authorities) require a negative test result within 72 hours prior to arrival in Belgium.”

The Embassy adds that “Ultimately, the decision to board a traveler on an airplane rests with the airline. Given the frequently changing guidance, travelers from the United States may wish to take a PCR test within 72 hours prior to boarding regardless of vaccination status to avoid any potential issues.”

Germany included the U.S. in its ‘high risk’ list since mid-August, before the EU council recommendation.

Travelers entering from the U.S. most present vaccination proof or an "important reason" for entering. Otherwise visitors will have to get into quarantine for 10 days upon arrival. The quarantine period can end on the fifth day with proof of a negative coronavirus test. 

France has reopened its borders only for fully vaccinated visitors from third countries. The country accepts only vaccines authorized by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), such as Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson (Janssen).

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