Europe’s Proposed Vaccine Passport Rules


The European Union's Proposal Could Permit Vaccinated Travelers to Visit Europe by the end of June 2021. The proposal, which will still need to be approved by member countries, would allow fully vaccinated visitors and their children (children would need a negative COVID-19 test result) to visit Europe, regardless of the number of coronavirus cases in their countries.

For unvaccinated visitors, entry would depend on whether their country's COVID-19 case level was under the permitted threshold. Requirements for unvaccinated travelers could include a negative COVID-19 test result obtained within the 72 hours prior to arrival, and/or quarantine upon arrival.

Currently, Greece has already opened to select non-EU visitors, including Americans, and Iceland has also opened to fully vaccinated visitors.

For Greece, Iceland, and the EU proposal, only visitors who have been fully vaccinated with one of the vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will enjoy vaccine passport privileges. At time of writing, the EMA has approved four vaccines:

  1. Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech)
  2. Moderna
  3. Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca)
  4. Janssen (J&J)

That means that travelers vaccinated with other vaccines, such as one of the Chinese-made vaccines or Russia's Sputnik V, will need to rely on low case numbers in their country of residence and comply with EU testing and/or quarantine requirements in order to visit Europe. The proposed threshold level is 100 new cases per 100K population over a 14 day period. That's roughly the level of Norway and Malta and more than Iceland and Portugal, but less than most other European countries. It equates to an average of ~7 per day, which at time of writing is less than all U.S. states except for California, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Hawaii, Mississippi and Alabama (for the U.S. as a whole, it's 15, over double the EU proposed threshold amount, so if approved, only vaccinated U.S. visitors would be permitted to visit Europe assuming similar case metrics).

Young children who are unable to be vaccinated will need to obtain a negative result from a COVID-19 PCR test taken within the 72 hours prior to arrival in the EU. That said, the U.S. FDA appears likely to approve, within a week or so, the Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 12-15, so that could mean families with kids age 12 and up could be completely vaccinated and able to travel to Europe once member states approve the proposal. Alternately, these families can already visit Greece or Iceland.

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