Another day, another update to COVID-related travel rules. This time, the European Union has made changes to its EU Digital COVID Certificate, which allows citizens, residents, and tourists to travel freely around the continent – provided that they have met certain criteria.
Below, we’ll explain what’s changed and how it may affect your visit to Europe. If you have any specific questions about a trip you’re planning, please get in touch with one of our travel experts.
Since last year, people visiting or living in Europe have used the EU Digital COVID Certificate to prove full vaccination status, recovery from previous COVID-19 illness, or have recently tested negative. Valid certificate holders could travel freely through the EU. They could also visit bars, restaurants, clubs, cinemas, and other public places.
Under the previous system, people were considered fully vaccinated if they had received the recommended number of doses of their chosen vaccine (one dose for Johnson & Johnson or two doses for Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and others).
However, the EU Commission chose to update the definition of “fully vaccinated” as it pertains to the EU Digital COVID Certificate. Effective on 1 February, certificates will expire nine months after a person receives their last dose. In order to keep their vaccine pass active, certificate holders must receive a booster shot within nine months (or 270 days) of their last dose.
Many European countries already require a booster shot to access retail and hospitality venues, but this move helps unite the entire EU under one policy.
In some parts of Europe, the vaccine requirements are even more stringent. Certain countries are making vaccination the only way to access certain places, while other countries are shortening the gap between vaccine and booster doses.
In France, for example, a negative COVID-19 test or recent recovery from the virus is no longer enough for entry into non-essential businesses, like pubs and restaurants. Even some forms of transportation and accommodation are only available to fully vaccinated individuals.
Instead, vaccination is required for anyone over the age of 16 who wants to visit these places. For people 18 years and older, booster shots are required within seven months of being vaccinated in order to enter pubs, eateries, and similar venues.
Similarly, Spain has recently announced that it will now require all non-EU arrivals to have received a booster shot to enter the country. In particular, the booster will need to have been administered between 14 and 270 days prior to arriving in Spain.
These are only a handful of the recent updates to entry requirements around Europe. With COVID-related laws and regulations constantly changing, it’s a good idea to seek professional advice before planning any overseas travel.
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