Now that the beginning of international travel is upon us, a lot of things are being reviewed and decided and commented on. In particular, the EU’s decision on the use of the vaccine passport is coming to a head, and we’re getting a more united list of European travel requirements.
The state of travel is very complicated at the moment, with the UK setting out our rules, now the EU setting out a regulated state of theirs, but still the individual company rules to consider, it’s going to take some adapting from all of us.
What Are the Current Basic Requirements?
Let’s start at the beginning with the requirements you might face going into any country across the UK or Europe in the near future of travel.
For entry into a country there are one of three things you will need to provide:
- Evidence that you have had both vaccinations
- Evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure
- Evidence that you have recovered from COVID within the past 6 months
This has now been confirmed by the EU to be a united agreement across their states. For those who are allowing people into the country, these are the general rules.
However, individual countries may have separate rules and restrictions of their own that you are responsible to investigate and comply with during your travels.
For example, in Iceland, being on our green list would, on base level, mean that you only need to give evidence or do tests on departure to the destination and then on departure or arrival back home. But because of their own restrictions, this extends to the use of quarantine for anyone who does not have both vaccines.
You can access the specifics for any country that you intent to travel to by visiting the travel advice page on the government website here.
What Other Requirements Do Countries Have?
Past these requirements there are a few different things that countries may ask of you when you plan to travel there, if they are allowing in any visitors that aren’t residents.
This could include but isn’t limited to:
- Testing on arrival
- Quarantining on arrival
- Being double vaccinated only (being tested or immune won’t be accepted as good enough evidence)
- Separate limits for children
What Are the Requirements for Children Travelling?
A topic that has received a lot of attention and confusion is how the restrictions are going to apply to children, and the age limits.
There has been a lot of back and forth over how young a child must be to surpass the need to take a test before travelling and this is something we’re all tracking avidly on the government website.
At present (18th May) children under the age of 11 do not need to take a test in order to return to the UK from travel, however, these restrictions will also differ per country.
For example, in Iceland anyone born after 2005 must take the test, therefore any child 15 or under (depending on their birth month) don’t need to take the test.
What Is the EU Doing About the Vaccine Passport?
Now under the name ‘vaccine certificates’ the EU are beginning to approve the use of such to prove vaccination status when you go on holiday.
Though these are a welcome addition, make sure you check your destination’s rules as some countries still may not accept proof of vaccination for entry and you will have to follow other requirements such as tests.
Member states of the EU are being recommended to set up digital portals so that UK residents can use the NHS App as proof of vaccination. However, the EU are also developing a green certificate as an alternative vaccine passport for non-EU passengers.
There are a few ways that you can now access a vaccine passport in order to travel, and these are being constantly developed at present to make proceedings as efficient and accessible as possible.
For those who are not vaccinated, proof of a negative test within the past 72 hours or immunity should allow entry into EU countries unless their rules state otherwise.
However, the NHS App cannot be used for proof of testing if you are not vaccinated. You can visit our page on the accepted forms of test results to learn more about the alternatives.
However, as of today, June 1st 2021, The EU has not yet added the UK to its ‘white list’ of countries from outside the Union, which would give British travellers the same access.
How Do I Access the Vaccine Passport?
You can either demonstrate your vaccination status on paper or in digital form, both of which are relatively easy to access. All you need is to be registered with a GP in order to get this.
You should also note, however, that an NHS vaccine appointment card is not a valid form of evidence, you will need to access it through one of the following methods.
The NHS App is free on all smartphones or tablets, though you will need to make an account in order to use it. But you won’t need to contact your GP in order to use this for your vaccine passport, once you have logged in the information will be there and waiting.
Please note that this is different to the NHS Covid-19 app. Using either of these to display negative test results for travel is currently not possible. If you are not vaccinated, you will not be able to use this method for other proof.
However, it is hopeful that it will eventually be able to show negative test results sufficient for travel, so keep updated on the progress.
If you don’t have access to the NHS App, and intend to travel soon, you can also call 119 and request a letter of vaccination status.
You must only use this method in the following situations:
- You are fully vaccinated, and it has been at least 5 working days since your second dose
- You intend to travel somewhere that required vaccination status in the next 4 weeks
- You do not have any way to access the NHS App
The letter should arrive at your GP registered address in 7 working days. If you have moved address, make sure you contact your GP to change this, since the 119 operators won’t have access to your address and will not be able to change this for you.
You cannot contact your GP directly for this information. Any letter they might provide will not be valid proof for travel.
Above all, we recommend being well prepared. Make sure you have all the evidence you need ready before your departure, and even before you book, if possible. Keep up to date on the status and requirements of your destinations and don’t be afraid to keep in contact with your lovely travel agent with any queries about your booking. There has never been more reason to employ a travel agent to book your holiday.
Themis Advisory director Jo Kolatsis said, “It’s the responsibility of the traveller to be aware of the requirements, but there is an obligation on the agent or travel organiser to provide the information.” So, an expert travel professional, especially members at PTS, can offer expert advice and take any concerns away. You can then just sit back and look forward to a wonderful holiday – just as it should be.
For more information on how PTS and our members ensure your protection on holiday, please visit our consumer protection page. Or, to get advice on which of our wonderful members to book your holiday with, call PTS at 0207 190 9988 , or email firstname.lastname@example.org.