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Nowadays, one has to check a lot of regulations when planning to travel. During the world wide pandemic, every country and continent has rules in place regarding who can enter and under what conditions.

However, if you want to travel to the EU, the first thing you will be asking yourself is, can I travel from my country to a Schengen/EU country? Is my country finally on the list of countries that are not affected by EU travel restrictions anymore? Let’s have a look!

A new order on travel restrictions for the EU

On October 30th, Order INT/1006/2020, of 29 October was published, which modifies the criteria for applying a temporary restriction on non-essential travel from third countries to the European Union and associated Schengen countries for reasons of public order and public health as a result of the health crisis caused by COVID-19. The order came into force on November 1st 2020 and will regulate travel into the EU until 24.00 h on 30 November.

People who can enter regardless of their country of origin

Any person who is a national of a third country will be refused entry on grounds of public order or public health, unless they belong to one of the following categories:

  • Regular residents of the European Union, Schengen associated States, Andorra, Monaco, the Vatican (Holy See) or San Marino who are going to that country, with documented proof.
  • Holders of a long-term visa issued by a Member State or Schengen associated State, who are going to that country.
  • Health professionals, including health researchers, and elderly care professionals going to or returning from work.
  • Transport personnel, sailors and the aviation personnel necessary to carry out air transport activities.
  • Diplomatic, consular, international organisation, military, civil protection and humanitarian organisation personnel, while exercising their duties.
  • Students who are studying in the Member States or Schengen Associated States and who have the corresponding permit or visa and medical insurance, provided that they are going to the country where they are studying, and that the entry takes place during the academic year or within the 15 days prior to it.
  • Highly qualified workers whose work is necessary and cannot be postponed or carried out at a distance, including participants in high-level sports events taking place in Spain. These circumstances must be justified by providing documentation.
  • Persons travelling for imperative family reasons, duly accredited.
  • Persons who provide documented proof of force majeure or a situation of need, or whose entry is permitted for humanitarian reasons.
  • Residents in the third countries listed in the Annex provided that they come directly from one of these countries, have transited exclusively through other countries included in the list or have made only international transits at airports located in countries not listed. For residents of China, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) and the Macao SAR, reciprocity remains to be verified.

What’s new?

Canada, Georgia and Tunisia are removed from the previously published list of countries from where you could travel to the EU and Singapore is added. Furthermore, travel from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Macao Special Administrative Region will be permitted, subject to confirmation of reciprocity.

The list of countries exempt from restrictions

The order contains a list of third countries (non-EU or Schengen countries) whose residents are exempt from the travel restrictions to the European Union, as well as a set of specific categories of persons also exempt from those restrictions, regardless of their place of origin. This Recommendation has been amended several times to adapt the list of third countries to the epidemiological circumstances.

The latest version of the order lists the following countries and special administrative regions whose residents are not affected by the temporary restriction of non-essential travel to the EU across external borders:

1. Australia
2. Japan
3. New Zealand
4. Ruanda
5. Singapore
6. South Korea
7. Thailand
8. Uruguay
9. China
10. Hong Kong SAR
11. Macao SAR

Note that this list refers to the countries that are not subject to travel restrictions. This does not mean that there are no conditions such as quarantines or obligatory testing in place.

David Poole is a South African entrepreneur and businessman, and founder of Consult Immigration.