Americans May Be Allowed to Visit Europe This Summer

It's been almost a year since nonessential travel was allowed in the EU.

European travel
Shutterstock/Karen Maze
Editor's Note: We know COVID-19 is continuing to impact your travel plans. As of April 2021, official guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention states that fully vaccinated people can travel at low risk, though safety precautions are still required. Should you need to travel, be sure to familiarize yourself with the CDC's latest guidance as well as local requirements/protocols/restrictions for both your destination and home city upon your return. Be safe out there.

It's been about a year since travel restrictions went into place that largely prevented American travelers from visiting Europe on non-essential trips. That is set to change, according to a report on April 25 from the New York Times

Americans who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will be allowed to travel to the European Union, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, told the Times. The policy shift is taking place because of the speed with which the United States is getting vaccines to citizens and "advanced talks between authorities there and the European Union over how to make vaccine certificates acceptable as proof of immunity for visitors," the report states.

Vaccinated American travelers will need to have received a vaccine from Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, or Johnson & Johnson, all of which are also approved for use in the European Union.

It's big news for tourists excited to cross the Atlantic, but there is no timeline for this to happen at the moment. Still, the Times notes, "[von der Leyen's] comments are a top-level statement that the current travel restrictions are set to change on the basis of vaccination certificates." Von der Leyen added that this all depends "on the epidemiological situation, but the situation is improving in the United States, as it is, hopefully, also improving in the European Union."

Nothing is yet set in stone, but the report suggests that the European Commission will recommend a travel policy change. However, each EU member state will have the ability to maintain more stringent rules than those recommended by the commission. Those stricter guidelines could include not allowing travelers from outside the EU or mandating quarantines upon arrival, even for vaccinated individuals. At the other end of the spectrum, many countries—Greece, Croatia—have already put plans in place to ease restrictions. 

Scott Keyes, Founder of Scott's Cheap Flights, says the news could have an almost immediate impact on Americans' travel plans. "Travel demand for international destinations has been highly dependent on countries announcing a timeline for reopening, even if it was still weeks or months down the line," Keyes said. "When Iceland and Greece announced their recent reopenings for international travel, it was met with a surge in new flight bookings. Similarly, with the EU set to announce they’ll be welcoming vaccinated Americans this summer, we can expect a flurry of new bookings this week."

The loosening of travel restrictions is a positive development on many fronts, but it's also an ongoing reminder of a widening gap between the privileged with access to the vaccine and those without access. The coronavirus continues to spread in many places around the world, like India, which has seen a record-setting number of new cases over the last week.

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow Dustin Nelson on Twitter.