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When can I travel to Europe again?

Times are tough for travellers. But with the world preparing to reopen in 2021, we're here to keep you dreaming and planning for your next adventure – whether that's a staycation or flying off to parts unknown. Until then, we've got the latest COVID-19 travel advice and updates to keep you up to date and ready to go.

Wanderlusting Americans are asking, “When can I travel to Europe again?” We’ll break down the current border restrictions and let you know where U.S. citizens can travel to in Europe. You can also use our interactive global map to keep track of travel restrictions around the world.

Keep in mind that countries update their entry requirements regularly and travel advisories from the State Department change frequently nowadays, too. Check official government and embassy websites for the latest information before you make a booking.

Here is the information we’ll cover:

The number of cases of COVID-19 remains high in Europe. A new wave of cases and novel strains have caused lockdown measures and restrictions across the continent.

view of older town in Europe

Europe, EU, Eurozone…where can I travel?

Great question! Let’s start off by defining a few important terms. Europe as a continent is not the same as the European Union (EU). The EU was set up to politically and economically unite neighboring countries to help ensure peace in the region. It currently has 27 member countries. Nineteen of the EU countries use the Euro (€) as their official currency. Collectively, these 19 countries are called the Eurozone.

There’s also the border-free zone, called the Schengen area, where internal borders have been abolished. Typically, U.S. citizens are issued 90 days visa-free to travel within the Schengen area. This is what allows you to take a bus from Portugal to Spain or a train from France to Slovenia without needing to pull out your passport along the way. 

Read more: New travel rules for U.S. passport holders

Yellow tram on rails coming out from a tunnel

Who is allowed to travel to the EU?

The Council of the European Union has recommendations indicating which third-country nationals (i.e. non-EU citizens) should be allowed entry for non-essential travel (i.e. tourism), among other things. The list is reviewed and updated regularly based on predefined objective criteria, “including the health situation, the ability to apply containment measures during travel, and reciprocity considerations, taking into account data from relevant sources such as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the World Health Organisation,” according to the European Commission

As of the last update of the list (released on January 28, 2021), Member States are encouraged to gradually lift travel restrictions for the residents of the following countries (i.e. so that they may enter for non-essential travel):

  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Rwanda
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Thailand
  • China, including the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macao, subject to confirmation of reciprocity

Are there exemptions?

Yes. For non-EU citizens from a country not listed above (like Americans), there are exemptions from the restrictions for what has been deemed essential travel. This includes students, healthcare professionals, passengers in transit, some family members (“passengers travelling for imperative family reasons”), among others. Each country within Europe defines its own specific criteria for what qualifies as essential travel. 

Read More: How to plan travel in 2021

Someone closing the airplane window

When will Americans be able to travel to Europe again?

Remember how we said the EU Council made a recommendation? That means it’s strongly encouraged given the open-border policy between member countries. EU government officials have generally agreed to enforce these restrictions in a coordinated manner and to not independently lift restrictions for unlisted countries. However, each country makes and enforces its own fine-tuned rules. This means that Americans can travel to some countries in Europe right now.

When can Americans fly to Europe?

While there may be fewer flights available than pre-pandemic times, airlines are still flying direct to Europe from the USA. Americans can fly into Europe, although entry requirements and restrictions vary by country. As we will discuss below, there are select countries where Americans can travel and fly into for tourism purposes.

Where can U.S. citizens travel to in Europe?

The EU maintains this handy map, which contains many details on member countries. You’re able to find out coronavirus measures of the country, and whether Americans can enter a country by plane, train, car, etc. You can also find out whether you need to quarantine upon arrival or are required to present a negative COVID test result. 

When you click on the tool’s map icon and then the Earth icon, you’ll see the answer to this question: What are the rules to enter this country from outside an EU Member State or Schengen Associated country?

Once you click around, you’ll see that non-essential travel from the US to EU countries generally isn’t allowed. In countries outside the EU (i.e. those not clickable on this map) where travel from the US is allowed, you may be required to quarantine for 7-14 days, undergo a health screening or take a COVID-19 test before being able to travel domestically. 

Don’t forget that everyone, including U.S. citizens, are now required to submit a negative test prior to boarding their flight back to the US. Many states have lifted mandates and requirements for returning residents, but check the latest from your state to ensure you’re in compliance when returning home.

Read more: Everything you need to know about PCR tests

two people who traveled to Europe jumping off cliff

Croatia

Croatia is part of the EU but not the Schengen area. Americans can travel to Croatia and stay visa-free for up to 90 days.

U.S. citizens who want to travel to Croatia for tourism purposes from the United States may be allowed if they meet certain requirements. The latest guidance states that visitors must have documented evidence of having paid for accommodations in full prior to arriving in Croatia. Note that a reservation confirmation alone will not meet this requirement. Tourists also must provide proof of a negative PCR test take within the last 48 hours, or a certificate of vaccination, or a medical certificate of having recovered from COVID-19, or there is the option to test and self-isolate upon arrival. The U.S. Embassy in Croatia provides additional details.

Ireland and the UK

Northern Ireland is in Level 5 but began loosening restrictions on April 12. Restrictions are also easing around the UK.

Ireland (EU member, not in the Schengen area) and England (Brexited from the EU, but still in Europe) are also allowing U.S. citizens to enter. However, there are restrictions.

Those traveling to Ireland from abroad must fill out a Passenger Locator Form, show evidence of a negative PCR test result taken within the last 72 hours (or show evidence of being exempt). Those traveling from a specified high-risk area (or have been in one in the prior 14 days, including as a transit stop even if remaining airside) are required to complete a mandatory hotel quarantine, which must be pre-booked prior to arrival. The USA has been designated as a high-risk area. Travelers coming from all other areas must still undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine at the address specified on the Passenger Locator Form (there is a test-out option and exemptions).

The UK is requiring those coming from the US to quarantine for 10 days and take two COVID-19 PCR tests during that time. You will also have to fill out a Passenger Locator Form. The UK also maintains a travel ban from particular countries (if you were in one of these countries in the last 10 days you will be refused entry into the country).

Malta

Although Americans are not allowed to travel to Malta directly from the United States for tourism purposes, they can enter this European country via a safety corridor country. U.S. citizens need to remain in the safety corridor country (such as Croatia or Turkey) for at least 14 days with no COVID-19 symptoms or contact with someone who is positive. You will also need to fill out a Public Health Declaration form.

Slovenia

Essential businesses are open in Slovenia, but tourist accommodation facilities remain closed.

Slovenia placed the United States on its red list, which is updated weekly and lists countries with “an unstable epidemiological situation.” Entry into Slovenia from a red list country mandates a 10-day quarantine unless exempted.

Spain and Italy

Only Americans who fall under the ‘exemptions’ are able to fly to these European countries, such as residents or for essential travel only.

Travel for tourism to Italy from the USA is not currently permitted.  

Spain has very specific requirements that U.S. citizens must meet to travel there. If granted travel to Spain, individuals must present negative results of a test taken with the last 72 hours, as well as complete a health form.

an island in the middle of a lake in Europe

Read more: 5 tips for safe flights and comfortable travel during the pandemic

Other European countries

Outside of the EU, some European countries are allowing entry from the US. These include: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, North Macedonia, Turkey and Ukraine. There may be testing or quarantine requirements in place, so be sure to carefully review the government’s guidelines before booking any travel.

If I’m already in Europe, can I travel to other countries in the EU?

Many countries only take into account where you claim residency, while others refer to the country you have been in 10-14 days prior to entry or crossing the border. If you travel to one of the European countries that are welcoming U.S. citizens, you may be able to fly or drive into other countries in the EU. Be prepared, though, to potentially self-quarantine or provide a negative COVID test result. It’s important to check if your desired destination (and any transit locations) has guidelines about this.

Another thing to consider is that if you are an American citizen who holds residency elsewhere that is on Europe’s green list, there is a chance you’ll be able to enter. You’ll have to provide the necessary documentation and proof of your country of residence. Either way, always confirm the border restrictions of the specific country before booking travel.

For a helpful picture of what countries are open to Americans, you can find the latest information on quarantine, entry requirements and restrictions on our global map.

What should I do if I decide to travel to one of the countries where Americans are welcome?

First, we recommend checking what the exact entry requirements are for Americans traveling to their desired European destination. Go to the government’s website and check with the embassy to see if you need specific documents. This may include a negative test result (and within what time frame of departure), proof of accommodations and requirements to quarantine upon arrival. 

Next, educate yourself on change and cancellation policies before you book your flight from the U.S. and your accommodations in Europe. If you want peace of mind, you can book flexible flight tickets. This way if you need to reverse course at the last minute, you won’t need to scramble to learn what your options are.

Finally, repeat the first recommendation leading up to your trip. If a mandatory quarantine goes into effect two days before you travel to Europe, you won’t be exempt just because you booked a flight months in advance.

Travelers also need to be aware of any requirements needed to return to the United States. As of January 26, 2021, all travelers from Europe and the rest of the world will be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within the previous 3 days before boarding their flight to the USA. The CDC published new guidance on April 2, 2021, for international travelers who are fully vaccinated.

Read more: An essential guide to quarantine hotels

a bottle of hand sanitizer and a mask

Travel is tricky these days, and it can be hard to know when its safe to travel to Europe from the USA and beyond. You need to do additional research and jump through a few more hoops than “the good old days of travel.” But that doesn’t mean that a head-clearing vacation isn’t worth the effort.

Just remember as you travel through Europe that you still need to take the same CDC-recommended safety precautions that you would in the United States. Wear a mask, practice good hand hygiene, don’t touch your face, and stay six or more feet away from others whenever possible. If you have more questions, we’ve answered your top COVID-19 questions.

Discover where you can go

Making plans to get back out there? Find out which borders are open with our interactive global map, and sign up to receive email updates when your top destinations reopen.

COVID-19 travel info graphic for Skyscanner's interactive global map.

Frequently asked questions

Does the government require me to stay home after I travel abroad?

While there are no strict laws, the CDC recommends that travelers get tested 3-5 days after travel and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel (even if the test comes back negative). If you don’t get tested, quarantine for 10 days. However, some state and local governments require a 7, 10 or 14-day quarantine for those returning from out of state. Check the CDC and your local government’s guidelines for details.

How long should travelers quarantine for after returning to the USA?

The U.S. government recommends getting a viral test 3-5 days after travel along with a full 7-day quarantine (even with a negative test result). Without testing, it is recommended to self-quarantine for 10 days.

Should I avoid traveling internationally during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Experts advise that non-essential travel should be avoided. However, there are no mandates in place restricting U.S. citizens from traveling domestically and to some foreign countries. If you choose to travel, follow CDC travel guidelines to help reduce your risk of exposure.

Do I need a negative COVID-19 test to return to the U.S.?

Yes. A policy, which started on January 26, 2021, requires all air passengers to provide a negative COVID-19 test (taken within the last 3 days) before they can board their flight to the United States.

This page was last updated on April 19, 2021. To our knowledge, the information on this page was correct at the time of publication. However, given the nature of the COVID-19 crisis, information will vary by location and change at short notice and over time. We will do our best to keep this page up-to-date, however this cannot be guaranteed.