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The EU is officially welcoming vaccinated travellers in summer 2021: Here's what you need to know

The EU is opening for international travel in summer 2021
The EU is opening for international travel in summer 2021   -   Copyright  Christian Lue / Unsplash

On Wednesday, ambassadors for the 27 EU member states announced that fully vaccinated travellers will be able to enter the bloc this summer.

Commission spokesman, Christian Wigand, told reporters that representatives of the countries had come to an agreement - but it still needed to be formally adopted by the European Council. It is something “which we understand will happen very soon”, he confirmed.

With the summer tourism season just around the corner, the EU is currently working on coordinating its external border measures and finalising the details. Here’s what we know so far.

Will I be able to travel to the EU this summer?

After closing external borders in March 2020, travel to the European Union from third country destinations will now be granted to those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

All vaccinations must be EU-approved and necessary doses should have been received. This system will come into effect from June.

What is the current situation with travelling to the EU?

At the moment, the EU has a small list of countries whose residents, vaccinated or not, can enter the bloc for non-essential travel. This is decided by infection rates and currently comprises:

  • Australia
  • Israel
  • New Zealand
  • Rwanda
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Thailand
  • China

Otherwise, non-essential travel to the EU is banned, but the ambassadors agreed today on loosening the requirements for countries to make this list moving forwards.

How will the EU’s COVID-19 certificate work?

The COVID-19 certificate, or vaccine passport, will enable travellers to prove they are either vaccinated, recovered from coronavirus or have recently tested negative.

While the details of this are still being finalised, it is believed the majority of certificates will be digitally available on a smartphone app, however the UN has outlined that paper versions should also be available.

What are the next steps?

Wigand could not give a timeline on when third country travellers could start making bookings to visit the EU, but said “we have seen in the past the Council moving very quickly on this”.

Member states have agreed to set up a coordinated emergency response which would rapidly suspend third country arrivals in the event of the emergence of additional coronavirus variants.