It’s been a long wait. When borders shut down over a year ago, no one thought they would be closed for this long. But the European Union has just announced a reversal of their ban on non-essential travel for American citizens. Here’s everything you need to know so you can travel the world once again.
Who Does This Apply To
We aren’t going completely back to normal. Leisure travel will not be opening up to all Americans. Instead, this will allow vaccinated Americans to come to Europe.
The 27 member states of the European Union only want people vaccinated with vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency. Luckily for Americans, the three vaccines being used in the United States (Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson) have all been approved by the EMA.
What Will I Need to Do
Of course, your first step will be to make sure you are vaccinated. The good news is that in many places, vaccinations are now open for everyone above the age of 16. In states where the vaccinations have been moving along quickly, like New York, you no longer need an appointment, you can just walk in.
Note that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses three weeks apart, and you won’t be considered fully vaccinated until 14 days after your final dose. It’s unclear how this will all factor into European travel, but you’ll likely need to plan to get your first shot about five weeks before you plan to travel.
How you will provide proof of vaccination is still being decided. Discussions are ongoing in Brussels right now, but they’re hoping to come up with something practical and broadly readable so that people can use them to freely travel between countries (instead of needing essentially a separate vaccine visa for each destination).
When Does This Go Into Effect
Unfortunately, an exact date or timeline is still unclear. There are still kinks in the plan that need to be worked out, but European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said Americans will be able to come to the European Union over the summer.
Are There Any Exceptions
EU member countries that especially rely on tourism have been pushing for this for a while, and some, like Greece, may begin welcoming vaccinated Americans even earlier.
Individual states will also have the option to put stricter entry rules in place if they are struggling to control COVID-19.
How Should I Plan for This
First things first, you want to make sure you get your vaccination as soon as possible so that you will be fully vaccinated by the time the EU opens up.
Make sure to check your passport – since you probably haven’t used it in over a year, you’ll want to make sure it hasn’t expired. If you need to renew, that process generally takes about 6 weeks.
You should buy your flight as soon as possible to ensure a good deal. Luckily, many airlines still have their flexible COVID policies in place which allow you to change or cancel your flights without penalty.
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