Breaking: Europe Will Re-Open To Vaccinated Americans This Summer

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Sunday that because the U.S. is using vaccines that are approved by the European Medicines Agency, the European Union will accept proof of vaccination to allow Americans to visit this summer, “because one thing is clear: All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by E.M.A.”

The specific timeline hasn’t been set and depends “on the epidemiological situation, but the situation is improving in the United States, as it is, hopefully, also improving in the European Union.”

And it’s also not yet clear what sort of documentation will be used,

Technical discussions have been going on for several weeks between European Union and United States officials on how to practically and technologically make vaccine certificates from each place broadly readable so that citizens can use them to travel without restrictions.

These discussions are continuing, officials in Brussels said, and it is possible that a low-tech solution would be used in the near future to enable people to travel freely on the basis of vaccination.

While the blessing of the European Union doesn’t require a country to open its borders, re-opening is expected to include Spain, Italy, and Portugal in addition to France and Greece.

It’s not yet clear how U.S. vaccination records will be validated, or what standards the U.S. might use to waive testing requirements for those entering the country by air. The U.S. allows those recently recovered from Covid-19 to skip a virus test, while vaccinated travelers cannot. Much of Europe has used AstraZeneca vaccines, which aren’t approved in the U.S.

And of course no one yet knows how long they’ll consider vaccination to be valid for, and there are not yet any approved boosters. No details have yet been announced regarding children under 16, who aren’t yet approved for vaccination either (children aren’t at much risk and young children probably spread the virus less than adults, but could be carriers).

In a way the announcement is almost anti-climactic. Iceland opened up, and so did Greece. France announced it planned to do so. Sure, the U.K. – which isn’t part of the E.U. or Schengen Area – has been working on travel corridors to allow flights between London and certain U.S. cities. But the decision to re-open had effectively already been made. Some national leaders just hadn’t gotten the memo yet, or figured out how to make the announcement.

Countries are largely looking to re-open, at least in Europe and in places that are heavily dependent on tourism. Proof of vaccination is one way to do that while still presenting a process that lets leaders appear responsible in case the pandemic heads in the wrong direction.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. It still remains to be seen how they will handle children under 16 who can’t get a vaccine. Will they require negative tests? If so, down to what age? These are big issues for families considering travel.

  2. So now, will the US allow US citizens back into the United States simply with proof of vaccination, or will a negative covid test still be required too?

  3. “children aren’t at much risk and young children probably spread the virus less than adults, but could be carriers).” Michigan has an all-time pandemic high of kids being admitted to the hospital this week. 1,300 babies have died from covid in Brazil. Because of variants there is sure as heck a risk to children.

  4. @ Gary. — Hopefully children will be barred. I know you have a child, but it would be nice for those of us who don’t.

  5. OK this is a start. But are we still going to be required to wear masks and all that other bullshit too? If so, no thanks.

    Amen on doing away with the negative test to return home. Someone needs to put a pen in president houseplants hand, tell him it’s another 2T stimulus plan, and get him to sign, lifting the testing order.

  6. Clearly children are the lowest risk age category for death/hospitalization from COVID19. However, the AAP statistics show 15,000 covid hospitalizations (in 23 states and NYC) and 300 deaths (46 states and NYC). And this is in the setting of social distancing, mask wearing for most, and virtual schooling for some. Volume of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths would not doubt be higher without those measures. I assume the teenagers 11-16y will be the next group to get vaccinated by the start of the next school year.

  7. As expected, the EU would have no choice but to act as a group in order to not look foolish as individual countries act on their own.
    The US needs to either approve the AZ vaccine or accept it as sufficient for travel.

    Note that the low tech means of verification means they have no choice but to accept US vaccine cards.

    The EU needs the tourist dollars and US and EU airlines are primed to pack some flights for a few months this year at least.

    Cruise restoration has got to be next on the US’ to do list. Shame the US couldn’t figure out what Europeans have to allow the Alaska cruise system to operate even w/o Canada.

  8. Looking forward to my EU/UK visit this summer, fully Pfizered

    Non-vaccinated MAGA mouth breathers…enjoy Daytona / Galveston!

  9. And the opposite? When US will open to Europeans? It’s a big absurd that USA is currently open to Indians with a simple negative PCR and closed for europeans!

  10. I’m not taking the chance. Come June, someone in Munich catches a cold then BOOM, they pull the plug on the whole continent and reinstitute the silliness again…..then I’m out thousands of dollars. Nope.

  11. Talk is cheap. Politicians have made empty promises before.
    So….First see, then believe.

  12. David @ 447p.

    Just stay out of my country, the European Union.
    We don’t need/ want ppl like you!

    “OK this is a start. But are we still going to be required to wear masks and all that other bullshit too? If so, no thanks.

    Amen on doing away with the negative test to return home. Someone needs to put a pen in president houseplants hand, tell him it’s another 2T stimulus plan, and get him to sign, lifting the testing order.”

  13. @Desdi3c did you have the same reaction to David with his “president houseplant” comment – of course you didnt; you folks from the sedition cult only get snowflakey when someone calls out crazy MAGAites

  14. UA-NYC,

    “Non-vaccinated MAGA mouth breathers” could perhaps be in the market for fake CDC cards indicating Covid-19 vaccination. Perhaps because of them and others, the US will just modify and adopt the Covid-19 testing requirement attestation form — which has been used for flying to the US since late January of this year — to cover vaccination status too. That way, they either need to get vaccinated or subject themselves to risk of prosecution for fraudulent claims.

  15. Lain,

    It will almost certainly apply to US residents with proof of vaccination in the US as long as in possession of a passport — or passport+visa if needing a visa pre-pandemic too to enter the EU/Schengen countries — of the sort that allowed entry into the EU/Schengen area in say January 2020 and January 2019.

  16. @UA-NYC – good luck boasting about being vacinated to the Lufthansa gate agents. Told outright that vacines are not accepted as not 100% safe and tests are and will be required as well on anyone travelling to or transiting thru any german airport. Got turned back in Miami on Friday despite having proof of vacination and proof of having recovered from covid. You think the testing lobby and the well entrenched gov employees will let this go…

  17. I have friends – “Non-vaccinated MAGA mouth breathers” – who are unaware that being non-vaxxed might present a travel problem. I spoke with one such person last night; she was absolutely shocked to learn that she wouldn’t be allowed into the EU without a vaccination. She claims she had Covid in February 2020 (never had a test, just felt poorly) and thus, she still has antibodies (never tested), and she can’t understand why Europe won’t allow her in based on her “say-so”. Surprisingly, this person is educated, affluent, well-travelled, and knowledgeable in practically all other areas; Covid seems to be a blind spot in her psyche.

    I agree that visiting Europe will be risky in the next few months, and a sweltering summer spent behind a mask (I’m looking at you, Rome!) is not a way I want to spend my vacation. That said, I’m planning a fall trip in October, by which time I expect 1) the vaccine program in the EU to be well underway, thus, 2) restrictions and mask mandates will be more relaxed. Let’s hope so!

    I’m curious about how the CDC cards are going to be used and validated. My husband’s card is notated with handwritten scales in blue ink; mine has a B & W QR sticker.

  18. Looking forward to WAW/FCO in July.
    Hopefully, my seatmate isn’t a diaper wearer like ua_nyc or I will have to duct tape it’s lips.

  19. Flying.While.High.Again,

    The airlines serving Europe may still be requiring passenger mask use — whether it’s because of a government order somewhere or not — on the planes in/to/from parts of Europe. And if you don’t comply, maybe you’ll be duly Grounded.While.High.Again . You’ll have to wait and see what the rules are when and how you try to go.

  20. KimmieA,

    I have friends in Sweden who got hit with Covid-19 last year and were tested as positive for Covid-19, but their serological tests this year didn’t show antibodies against Covid-19. They had since had to also pay for PCR and antigen tests.

    They and their groups wanted the serological tests because they thought they could use it to get around more easily with lower testing costs during this pandemic. It didn’t pan out that way for all of them (if it even panned out that way for any of them).

  21. I do not want to be stuck on a plane for many hours with non vaccinated people who refuse to wear masks. The greater safety for all of us is what is needed. I don’t want people coughing around me and breathing in my face without their masks at a minimum. I am tired of hearing people say that masks do no good. If this was true, nurses and doctors would not wear masks. My wife and I traveled every month somewhere via plane. We are long time points and miles people. But, I have not traveled since Nov 2019 on a plane. Going on my 1st SW flight to see grand kids on Friday. I am for certain going to be masked up and use wipes to clean my area. If I am stuck next to someone who refuses to wear a mask, I will either switch seats, complain or just get the hell off the plane. Years ago, when smoking was allowed on planes, I was stationed overseas. We would fly with our kids back to the states and my wife even flew when nursing kids. Idiots sitting next to us would not stop smoking, even when asked. This is the same inconsiderate behavior, except more dangerous. I am so tired of covidiots.

  22. @Jeff K, what is with the fascination with clean surfaces? That has been very fascinating to me as someone who follows the science. In fact, even the semi-political CDC says:

    “People can be infected with SARS-CoV-2 through contact with surfaces. However, based on available epidemiological data and studies of environmental transmission factors, surface transmission is not the main route by which SARS-CoV-2 spreads, and the risk is considered to be low.”

    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/science-and-research/surface-transmission.html

    I’m completely fascinated by the surface germophobia folks have.

  23. @bexho2000 – sorry about your situation, but it occurred before what was announced that spurred this article and many others (and likely won’t take effect til June earliest anyways)

  24. It’s both sad and amazing that the bulk of those who frequent this site, still haven’t figured it out. They believe everything they read in the MSM, fail to do any research and any attempt at critical thought appears to be a non-starter. Society is doomed!

  25. @Jeff K: Then don’t fly.

    @Gene: You’re one of “those,” huh? Yes, kids can be annoying so can people who fart, blow their nose loudly, yawn repeatedly, leave the bathroom a mess, etc. We are all human, and we were all kids one. Lighten up. Or go live on your own island if being around children of any age is just too much for you to bear. I am many years past traveling with my kids. But insufferables like you, who made their annoyability known, were the only real downside.

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