Connecticut, US

Jun 30 2020

External COVID-19 Travel Ban Lifted for Select Countries

European Union

At a Glance

  • The European Council has advised EU countries to allow entry to residents from 15 countries starting July 1, as an update to COVID-19-related travel restrictions in the European Union. These countries have a COVID-19 infection rate similar to or lower than the EU average, and should allow EU travelers to enter their territory.
  • The list includes Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay, and China, if EU travelers will be allowed to reciprocally enter Mainland China.  The “greenlist” countries are in addition to Andorra, San Marino, Vatican City and Monaco.
  • Notably, Brazil, Russia and the United States are not on the first iteration of the list.
  • The recommendation is non-binding, and individual EU and Schengen Area countries will now decide whether to follow this advice. Fragomen expects most countries to do so, typically within a few days. 
  • The proposal reconfirms existing travel exceptions for essential workers and visa or permit holders from non-listed countries, among others. The European Commission has advised that highly skilled workers essential to the economy should be included in countries’ definitions of permitted essential workers. Travel within the European Union and Schengen Area is also increasingly permitted.

 

The situation

The European Council has advised EU countries to allow residents from Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay to enter starting July 1. Notably, Brazil, Russia and the United States are not on the first iteration of the list. China is on the list pending confirmation that EU travelers will be allowed to reciprocally enter Mainland China.

Impact

  • Residents of ‘greenlisted’ countries will be permitted to enter the European Union, while the ban remains in place for travel from other countries. Eligible travelers may be required to first obtain a visa or permit, depending on their nationality, purpose and duration of stay. 
  • Residents of other countries will remain barred from entry until the epidemiological situation in their country of origin improves, unless they are covered by a specific exemption.

 

A closer look

  • Infection rate and reciprocal travel. Countries from which travel will be permitted have a COVID-19 infection rate per 100,000 residents similar to or lower than the EU average. Additionally, these countries allow EU national travelers to enter their territory.
  • Review. The list of permitted countries will be reviewed every two weeks. Countries may be added or removed, depending on local epidemiological developments.
  • Scope of entry. The advice initially only covers residents of the listed countries. Individual EU and Schengen Area countries must now implement the advice into their own national rules, and there could be variance among the countries.
  • Allowed travelers from other countries. Most EU and Schengen Area countries already allow certain travelers from non-EU and non-Schengen countries to enter, such as essential workers (e.g., healthcare professionals, transport staff) and visa or permit holders. These exemptions would not be affected by the European Commission’s advice, and would continue under adjusted national policies.
    • Highly skilled workers. In line with Fragomen’s advice, the European Commission recently called on EU countries to include highly skilled workers who are critical to the economy in their definition of permitted essential workers. It is not yet clear whether any EU countries adjusted their entry policies accordingly.

 

Background

Estonia and Latvia already used an epidemiological threshold in determining their quarantine policies. Other EU countries also referred to the epidemiological situation when opening up internal travel among the EU countries. By following a similar line in the current advice, the European Council sought to implement a transparent, neutral metric in reopening external borders.

Although the United Kingdom left the European Union on January 31, 2020, UK residents should be treated as EU residents regarding pandemic-related entry restrictions, although country-specific variations may apply. Fragomen is closely monitoring this element of entry restrictions.

Looking ahead

Individual EU and Schengen Area countries will now decide whether to follow the European Council's advice. Fragomen expects most countries to do so, typically within a few days, although there could be variance in the rules adopted among the countries.

Check Fragomen’s dedicated COVID-19 website for updates on this situation and other countries’ travel and entry restrictions.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to [email protected].