Sep 01 2021

United States of America, Among Other Countries, Removed from EU Travel Safe List

European Union

At a Glance

  • The European Council has removed the United States from its travel ‘safe list’, an advisory list of countries with low COVID-19 infection rates from which non-essential travelers can travel to the European Union. The United States, along with Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and North Macedonia, were removed due to rising COVID-19 infection rates.
  • By removing the United States and other countries from the ‘safe list’, the European Council is recommending that EU Member States reinstate restrictions on non-essential travel from these countries.  
  • The recommendation is non-binding on EU Member States and will have to be implemented by individual EU Member States to take effect, although most EU Member States are expected to follow the recommendation.
  • Even if the individual EU Member States do implement the recommended restrictions, travelers originating from these countries may still be able to enter the European Union if they are fully-vaccinated, according to the EU Member State’s guidelines, or qualify as essential travelers.

The situation

The European Council has removed the United States from its travel ‘safe list’, an advisory list of countries with low COVID-19 infection rates from which non-essential travelers can travel to the European Union. The United States, along with Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and North Macedonia, were removed due to rising COVID-19 infection rates.

A closer look

  • Implementation required. The removal of these countries from the ‘safe list’ has no practical effect until individual EU Member States implement travel restrictions, following the European Council recommendation. However, most EU Member States are expected to follow the recommendation.
  • Exceptions. Even if EU Member States do adopt the recommendation of the European Council, travelers from the United States, Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and North Macedonia will still be able to enter some EU Member States if they are fully-vaccinated, according to individual EU Member State’s guidelines, or if they qualify as essential travelers (including EU nationals and long-term EU residents and their family members; healthcare workers; and highly-qualified workers on urgent assignments, among others).

Impact

  • Travel to EU Member States restricted. Many EU Member States are likely to implement the restrictions that the European Council has recommended, which would significantly restrict the number of travelers allowed to enter the European Union from countries which are no longer on the ‘safe list’.

Background

  • History on ‘safe list’. The United States of America was only added to the European Union’s ‘safe list’ at the end of June 2021.
  • Infection rate monitoring. EU authorities are closely monitoring the COVID-19 infection rates in non-EU countries and regularly updating the ‘safe list’ accordingly.

Looking ahead

Despite increasing vaccination rates, Fragomen expects the European Union to continue to use infection numbers in travelers’ countries of origin to guide travel policies.

For up-to-date information on COVID-19-related travel bans, restrictions and concessions, among other information, check Fragomen’s dedicated website.

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].