Summer 2020 updates on EU restrictions for British Travellers

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Summer 2020 updates on EU restrictions for British Travellers

Where can British travellers visit?

The coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on European and world travel. Just as one country opens its borders and lift restrictions and quarantine requirements another closes down to all visitors. The United Kingdom has lifted the 14-day quarantine rule for visitors from Spain, Italy, France and numerous other countries but kept it in place for American visitors as the U.S.A. continues to experience rising numbers of coronavirus cases. Just as the UK has reopened (to a certain extent) for overseas visitors so have a number of European countries. From the 10th of July, British citizens are free to travel to the following European destinations without the need for self-isolation on arrival:

Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Holland, Poland, San Marino, Spain

Some European countries have their own exceptions. Liechtenstein and Switzerland have a mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement for travellers who have recently been in a high-risk country while Spain and Turkey operate health screenings on arrival and Austrian authorities demand evidence of a negative coronavirus test. A test can be taken at Vienna airport but costs £170 (€190) and takes 3 to 6 hours to process. The Norwegian authorities have just lifted a total ban on UK visitors and the country is now open to British passport holders with no quarantine requirement.

Other European countries are also open to British visitors but certain conditions will apply:

  1. Greece. Filling out an online Passenger Locator Form before travel is required and there is also the possibility of random testing on arrival. Self-isolation until results have been returned is required and this period may be extended in the event of a positive result.
  2. Greenland. A health certificate, obtained no more than five days prior to arrival, is required and self-isolation for five days is also mandatory.
  3. Iceland. Passengers must be tested on arrival or undergo a 14-day period of self-isolation. Tests cost £53 (€60) if booked in advance or €65 (€72) on arrival.
  4. Malta. A mandatory 14-day period of self-isolation is currently in operation but this is expected to be reduced from the 15th July.

For the present at least, the following countries are off limits for British travellers:

  • Cyprus
  • Finland
  • Hungary

and for those thinking of venturing further afield the British exclusion also applies to:

  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Taiwan
  • Vietnam
  • Trinidad & Tobago

Travel bans and entry requirements are changing on an almost daily basis and what is true today may change tomorrow. Even a complete ban on UK travellers to any named country is always a possibility if the daily tally of coronavirus cases continues to increase.

What Will ETIAS Change?

Although the exact date for the introduction of ETIAS is not yet set it is likely to affect British visitors to the European Union sometime in 2022 and beyond. Once any agreed grace period has ended, it will be mandatory for British passports to be ETIAS approved before any intended travel even takes place. Currently, British citizens do not require a Schengen Visa or any form of European visa to travel to and within any of the EU member states or the four Schengen countries that are not in the European Union. A valid passport is sufficient for travel purposes and entitles the holder to remain within these countries for up to ninety days. Following the full implementation of ETIAS travel plans will become more complicated as passports will need to be approved via the online screening process and the approval will be required before travel takes place. The online form will include questions covering past criminal history and certain existing medical conditions and the details will be checked against numerous European security databases. An ETIAS may be refused depending on the assessed health or security risk posed by the applicant and failure to answer questions completely and honestly will also result in refusal. Although a positive outcome is anticipated in about 95% of cases there will be applications that will be refused. This screening process will undoubtedly be problematic for a small percentage of people who currently enjoy total freedom to travel where and when they like in the European Union.