The Seychelles is opening its borders to vaccinated visitors
The Seychelles is opening its borders to vaccinated visitors

Vaccine havens: The countries welcoming travellers with Covid passports this summer

Had your jab? These destinations will open their doors to you

Helen Coffey@LenniCoffey
Wednesday 14 April 2021 09:19
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International leisure travel is still banned from the UK – and the prime minister has said he cannot guarantee that overseas holidays will open up from 17 May, as originally hoped.

The government says it hopes people will be able to travel to and from the UK to take a summer holiday this year, “but it is still too soon to know what is possible”.

Ministers advise people “not to book summer holidays abroad until the picture is clearer”.

However, a traffic-light system for countries is set to be introduced, while vaccine passports are also on the horizon: “The NHS is working on providing individuals with the means to demonstrate their Covid status through a digital and non-digital route, and is working with experts to put security and privacy at the core of this approach,” says the government.

“When non-essential international travel does resume, the NHS solution will facilitate international travel where certification is required, and we will look to establish arrangements with other countries and international organisations to establish mutual recognition of certificates.”

For those who can prove they have received an approved coronavirus vaccine, some tourism-hungry countries have announced that their borders will be flung wide to the immunised traveller.

Once restrictions are lifted - whether from 17 May or further down the line - here are the destinations welcoming vaccinated holidaymakers.

Greece

Greece will open to tourists from 14 May, the Greek Tourism Minister has said – as long as they provide proof of full vaccination, Covid-19 antibodies, or a negative test to enter.

Speaking at the International Tourism Fair ITB Berlin on 9 March, Haris Theocharis said that the country was “more than optimistic” and “ready” to receive visitors.

“We aim to open tourism by 14 May, with specific rules and updated protocols. Until then, we will gradually lift the restrictions if conditions allow,” he said, adding that those working in the Greek tourism industry would be prioritised for vaccination after the vulnerable.

Portugal

Portugal has said it will welcome British tourists this summer.

Tourists must either present a vaccination certificate or a negative Covid-19 test to enter from 17 May, the country’s tourism minister told BBC Radio.

The opening date coincides with the earliest day possible that people in England will be allowed to travel abroad recreationally, according to the government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

Croatia

Fully vaccinated travellers from any country will now be able to travel to Croatia without the need to get tested or self-isolate upon arrival, according to the Croatian government.

Tourists must be able to prove they’ve had both jabs and have waited 14 days after their second dose before travelling.

Thailand

Thailand will begin to remove quarantine requirements and open its borders to fully vaccinated travellers from 1 July 2021, when the popular tourist island of Phuket will be the country’s first destination to welcome international travellers.

From October, Phuket, Krabi, Phangnga, Koh Samui, Chonburi (Pattaya) and Chiang Mai will all be accessible, quarantine free, for vaccinated travellers. Travellers are required to stay for at least seven days in the point of entry and should plan their itinerary accordingly.

Cyprus

In December, Cyprus became the first European Union Member State to announce it was planning to abolish entry requirements like testing and quarantine for travellers who get vaccinated against Covid-19.

The government has now announced that British nationals who have been vaccinated can enter the country without needing to quarantine orpresent a negative Covid test from 1 May.

The deputy tourism minister of Cyprus, Savvas Perdios, told the island’s news agency: “We have informed the British government that as of 1 May we shall facilitate the arrival in Cyprus of those British nationals who have been inoculated with vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency, so that they can come here without needing a negative test and without needing to quarantine.”

Both the Oxford AstraZeneca and the Pfizer vaccines have been approved by the EU’s medicines regular. It is likely that completing the course of two jabs will be necessary, with a wait of at least a week from the second one before full protection is deemed to have been acquired.

Madeira

This archipelago and autonomous region of Portugal is launching a “green corridor” for arrivals who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19.

Tourists who can prove vaccination or recovery will no longer have to provide a negative Covid test.

To be eligible, tourists must prove their status through one of two documents: proof of Covid-19 recovery in the last 90 days, validated by the respective country of origin, stating the name, date of birth, health number, type and date of the test and explicit mention of ‘recovered’; or the official vaccination certificate, including the date of the two doses taken and respect for the immunisation period according to instructions for each vaccine.

Documentation in English must be submitted to the ‘Madeirasafe.com’ app prior to arrival.

Belize

Belize has become the first Caribbean nation to welcome in vaccinated travellers without a requirement to present a negative Covid test.

Visitors who can present certification that they have had both jabs of an approved vaccine at least two weeks before entering the country will no longer have to get tested beforehand.

They must also download the Belize Health App and add all required information within 72 hours before arriving in Belize.

Non-vaccinated travellers can still enter Belize, but must present a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours of travel or a rapid antigen test taken within 48 hours of travel.

Poland

Poland has lifted quarantine requirements for travellers who have received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Visitors travelling from abroad who can provide proof of both jabs will not be required to quarantine upon arrival.

Those who can show proof of a negative Covid-19 test, taken within 48 hours before crossing the Polish border, can also bypass the restrictions.

Estonia

Estonia has become the latest nation to offer quarantine exemption for travellers who have recovered from Covid-19 or who have been vaccinated against the virus.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs currently imposes 10 days of quarantine on arrivals from abroad, with exceptions made only for low-risk European countries – Bulgaria, Finland, Greece, Iceland and Norway.

Arrivals from the UK are required to spend two weeks in self-isolation – though this can be halved by taking a free Covid test after seven days.

The government in the capital, Tallinn, has now eased its rules for people who are presumed to have acquired some immunity to coronavirus either through infection or vaccination.

The ministry says: “Starting from 1 February, the 10-day self-isolation and Covid-19 testing are not mandatory for individuals, including those arriving from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or a third country, who: (1) have suffered from Covid-19 and no more than six months have passed since they have been declared cured; (2) have undergone Covid-19 vaccination and no more than six months have passed since its completion.”

According to the Foreign Office, proof of recovering from Covid-19 should be a doctor’s certificate that includes the time, location, methodology and result of the analysis, as well as the details of “the institution that conducted the analysis”.

Vaccinated travellers will need to provide “an immunisation passport”, even though there is no international agreement on such a document, or a vaccination certificate with a similar level of detail to the doctor’s certificate.

The Seychelles

The Seychelles is planning to kickstart its tourism industry by getting rid of quarantine requirements altogether for incoming visitors who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The country will be welcoming fully vaccinated visitors from anywhere in the world with immediate effect, although they must still also present a negative Covid PCR test result taken with 72 hours of travel.

There will be no need for quarantine for vaccinated travellers – up until now, visitors had to self-isolate at their hotel for 10 days on arrival.

To be considered as vaccinated, visitors must have received both doses of any of the four main vaccines – Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Janssen – and waited two weeks after the second dose for the inoculation to take effect.

As proof, visitors will need to submit an “authentic certificate from their national health authority”.

And, from 25 March, unvaccinated travellers can also enter the country without needing to quarantine, providing they present a negative test result.

Georgia

As of 1 February, all international tourists can enter Georgia (the country, not the US state) as long as they have received both doses of their Covid-19 vaccine and can provide proof.

Georgia is the first country to fully remove entry restrictions for vaccinated passengers - no testing pre-departure, no testing on arrival, and no quarantine.

“As for foreign visitors, they will be able to enter Georgia unconditionally if they submit a full course of any type of covid-vaccine, which means two full doses, if they present a document at the border,” according to the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Since May 2020, Georgia has had an international flight ban in place for most of the world, but this too will be lifted from 1 February, allowing multiple airlines to resume flights.

Romania

Romania has announced that travellers who have received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine will not need to quarantine on arrival, effective immediately.

In a document issued earlier this month, the country’s National Committee for Emergency Situations (CNSU) announced that people coming from countries or areas of high epidemiological risk, or who have come into direct contact with someone who’s tested positive for Covid, are exempt from quarantine measures if they are fully vaccinated.

That means they’ve had two doses of the vaccine, and at least 10 days have passed since the second dose was administered before arrival into Romania.

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Incoming visitors will need to show proof of this through a “document issued by the health unit which administered it, from Romania or from abroad”. There’s no indication which of the vaccines will be acceptable.

The CNSU said that it’s made the decision based on the fact that there’s been a downward trend in infections in Romania and that there’s a “need to create the necessary socio-economic conditions” to benefit the national economy.

The changes will apply to visitors from the UK, who have up to now been required to quarantine 14 days as well as show evidence of a negative Covid test (either PCR or antigen test accepted) taken within 48 hours of travel.

Iceland

Iceland has announced it will welcome back visitors who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

In a bid to boost tourism, the government confirmed that those who’ve had both doses of a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency can enter the country without needing to get tested for coronavirus or undergo quarantine.

“The Icelandic government has announced that all those who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will be allowed to travel to Iceland without being subject to border measures, such as testing and quarantine,” the government said in a statement on 16 March.

Malta

Malta is the latest European nation to declare that British holidaymakers will be welcome this summer, so long as they have been fully vaccinated.

From 1 June, tourists from the UK who can show proof that they have had both coronavirus jabs at least 10 days prior to arrival are no longer required to present a negative Covid PCR test.

Passengers will need to show a vaccination card when boarding to travel to Malta.

In Europe, the pace of the vaccine roll-out in Malta is second only to the UK.

Israel

Israel has announced it will let in some fully vaccinated tourists from 23 May.

The minister of tourism and minister of health agreed the rules, which will allow entry to certain groups of travellers in the first stage.

Individuals will be permitted in the second stage of the timeline, with further details to be released over the coming days.

However, Israel is opening up more cautiously than other nations: even fully vaccinated travellers who are eligible for entry must still test negative for coronavirus via a PCR test before they can board a flight, and will undergo a serological test to prove they’ve been vaccinated upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport.

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