A common approach to COVID-19 travel measures in the EU

BySteven I. Green

May 22, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

COVID-19: New Council recommendation on the coordination of travel measures within the EU

People with a valid EU digital COVID certificate

All travellers with a valid EU digital COVID certificate should be exempt from testing and quarantine/self-isolation.

An EU digital COVID certificate is valid if the person concerned has:

  • completed the full primary vaccination series with an EU-approved COVID-19 vaccine (and more than 14 days and less than 9 months have passed since the last dose) OR
  • received a booster of an EU-approved COVID-19 vaccine OR
  • recovered from COVID-19 and less than 180 days have passed since the date of the positive test result OR
  • obtained a negative PCR test result not more than 72 hours before arrival or a negative rapid antigen test result not more than 24 hours before arrival

EU countries could also accept vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).

People without a valid EU digital COVID certificate

People without a valid EU digital COVID certificate could be required to take a test prior to or no later than 24 hours after arrival.

Transport workers, patients travelling for imperative medical reasons, seafarers and persons living in border regions and travelling frequently should be exempt from this requirement.

Passenger Locator Form (PLF)

Travellers can be required to fill in a passenger locator form (PLF) when they arrive using collective modes of transport


Under 12 years old: not required to have an EU digital COVID certificate

12-18 years old: same rules as adults

Mapping of risk areas and related measures

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) publishes a weekly common colour-coded map of risk areas to support EU countries’ decisions.

The map is based on data provided by member states on the following common criteria:

  • testing rate = the number of tests per 100 000 people during the last week
  • 14-day cumulative cases = number of new cases per 100 000 people in the last 14 days
  • vaccination uptake

Dark red areas

  • all non-essential travel to these areas should be discouraged
  • possible additional measures for non-vaccinated or non-recovered travellers: testing prior to arrival and quarantine/self-isolation upon arrival
  • children under 6 should be exempt from quarantine or tests
  • children under 12, if they have a valid EU digital COVID certificate, should be exempt from quarantine

Emergency brake mechanism

A member state or the European Commission can trigger an emergency brake based on information from ECDC reports:

  • if the epidemiological situation in a region deteriorates rapidly
  • in particular where a variant of concern or interest is detected 

Under the emergency brake measures such as testing and quarantine can be introduced, including for EU digital COVID certificate holders and essential travellers.

If the emergency brake is triggered, EU countries should discuss possible coordinated measures in the Council, in cooperation with the European Commission.

Information for travellers

All information and updates are available on the EU website reopen.europa.eu