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COVID-19 RULES

Planning a road trip across Europe this summer? Here are some things to think about

Coronavirus restrictions are making travel more complicated within Europe. Land borders across the continent are generally open to travellers, but different restrictions and rules apply depending on the countries you travel through.  

Planning a road trip across Europe this summer? Here are some things to think about
A Spanish police officer at the border between France and Spain in March 2021. Photo: Raymond Roig/AFP

Each country continues to be responsible for the definition of its own entry requirements and rules, which are not standardised at the EU level. But there’s a general advisory against non-essential travel to countries outside the EU in effect until September 1st, 2021.

Information can be found on the Re-open EU website and Your Europe which pool information from all EU countries, but they are not always up-to-date.

It’s a good idea to check the individual websites for the countries you’ll be travelling to and through before you leave; you can also check the embassy or foreign ministry websites of your country of residence to look into rules specifically for travel from your country. 

The Local runs news sites in nine European countries. You can read them here to keep up-to-date on the pandemic situation:

Where can I travel now? 

This depends on where you’re starting from. If you’re coming from outside the EU, a European entry ban is in effect for some people, barring them from travelling to the European Union or the Schengen area unless the trip falls under one of the exemption categories (which differ per country) or if your country is on the list of safe countries outside the EU/Schengen area (again, countries may have separate rules).

EU countries, as well as close partners such as Norway, are generally on the green lists for travel among other EU countries, but you still have to meet criteria such as being vaccinated or providing a negative Covid-19 test, and the exact rules may vary between countries.

What travel documents should be in my glove compartment?

If you’re an EU national, you still don’t need to show your national ID card or passport when you’re travelling from one border-free Schengen EU country to another – but you should definitely remember to bring it. 

On top of that, you’ll probably want to get yourself an EU Digital Covid Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test. You can find out more about the EU Digital Covid Certificate here. Rules vary between countries, with one dose of vaccine enough to enter some countries, but others requiring two doses.

You generally get the certificate from your national health authority. It’s valid 14 days after receiving a complete regimen with any vaccine authorised by the EU and WHO, but as mentioned above, some countries will accept it after just one dose. It can also be used to prove that you’ve recovered from Covid-19 or have a recent negative test result.

On top of that, make sure your European health insurance card (EHIC) hasn’t expired, if you have one. It’s something that is often forgotten at the back of a drawer, but make sure it’s still valid because it covers healthcare costs in European countries outside your home, should you fall sick while travelling. Find out more here.

Bear in mind that the EHIC doesn’t cover everything and almost certainly won’t cover the cost of repatriation, should that be required, so you should consider buying travel insurance for the duration of your trip and keeping the key details like your policy number and the phone number to call if you need it in a safe place.

Phew! That’s a lot. What about the practical stuff? 

Not all EU countries have the same traffic rules, but some general rules apply in all EU countries.

It’s a good idea to keep a bunch of cash handy if you’re travelling through Italy or France because most of the E-roads in these countries require tolls on the road. Other countries, like Germany and Sweden, only require tolls over certain bridges, while smaller countries like Liechtenstein, Malta and Monaco offer toll-free driving. You can find out more about what tolls are required here

And of course, make sure you have a valid driving licence and sufficient car insurance that covers you in the EU. And remember that in Malta, Ireland and Cyprus, you drive on the left-hand side of the road.   

Bon voyage!

Member comments

  1. No mention of all the new speed cameras in France then but of course the British tourist will get away with it because unless physically stopped the means to fine them has been removed.

    1. Really well I know some people who received their speed fine notices with no problem so any Brit that thinks that they can’t get away with it think again.

  2. No mention of the biggest problem right now and i say this having just crossed Europe, TRAFFIC!

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COVID-19

Where in France do you still need a face mask?

In France, masks will no longer be required on indoor transport as of Monday, May 16th. Here are rules and recommendations that are still in place:

Where in France do you still need a face mask?

Members of the public in France have been asked to wear face masks for the most part of two years, at times even outside in the street.

Since March 14th, 2022, the facial coverings have no longer been mandatory in most establishments such as shops, and as of Monday, May 16th, it will no longer be mandatory on indoor public transport. 

As of May 16th, you will therefore no longer be required to wear a mask in the following transports:

  • Buses and coaches
  • Subways and streetcars
  • RER and TER
  • TGV and interregional lines
  • Taxis

Regarding airplanes whether or not you must wear a mask is a bit more complicated.

On Wednesday, May 11th, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) announced that from May 16th onward it would no longer be required to wear a mask in airports and on board aircraft in the European Union. However, Germany has stated that it does not have the intention of lifting its requirement of wearing a mask on its airlines – this would include the Lufthansa airline. Thus, it will be necessary for passengers to still very to rules each airline has in place, which could be the case when travelling to a country that still has indoor mask requirements in place.

EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky specified that vulnerable people should continue to wear masks, and that “a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, to reassure those seated nearby.”

Masks still obligatory in medical settings

However, it will still be mandatory for caregivers, patients and visitors in health care facilities, specifically including hospitals, pharmacies, medical laboratories, retirement homes, and establishments for the disabled. 

For people who are vulnerable either due to their age or their status as immunocompromised, wearing a mask will continue to be recommended, though not required, particularly for enclosed spaces and in large gatherings.

Masks are also still recommended for people who test positive, people who might have come in contact with Covid-19, symptomatic people and healthcare professionals.

Will masks come back?

It is possible. French Health Minister Olivier Véran does not exclude the return of mandatory mask-wearing, should the health situation require it.

What are the other Covid-19 restrictions that remain in place?

The primary restriction that has not changed is the French government’s regulation for testing positive: If you are unvaccinated and test positive, isolation is still required for 10 days, if you are vaccinated, this requirement is seven days. Isolation can be reduced from 10 to 7 days or from 7 to 5 days if a negative covid test is performed, and symptoms are no longer present.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What Covid restrictions remain in place in France?

The French Health Ministry still recommends following sanitary measures such as: wearing a mask in places where it is still mandatory, hand washing, regular ventilation of rooms, coughing or sneezing into your elbow, and using a single-use handkerchief (tissue).

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