European Union Plans to Reopen to All American Travelers This Summer

U.S. travelers are about to get many more European summer vacation options for the first time in 16 months.

European officials have agreed to add the U.S. to the European Union's safe travel list, the Associated Press reports. The U.S. is among a handful of countries – including Lebanon, Albania, and Serbia – that officials have cleared to join the list, which governs who can visit for nonessential reasons. EU officials also plan to welcome travelers from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan beginning July 1.

Nonessential travel from the U.S. to Europe has been banned since early 2020 – a measure put into place to stem the spread of COVID-19. The EU has been promising fully vaccinated Americans the opportunity to return to Europe this summer, with countries like Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain already welcoming U.S. tourists.

Portugal reopened to U.S. tourists on Tuesday and is requiring travelers to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their trip. Rapid antigen tests must be taken within 24 hours of travel, according to Portuguese regulations.

The EU's decision clears the way for all U.S. travelers to visit its 27 countries, regardless of vaccination status. Individual countries, however, will continue to have the leeway to set their own rules around requirements for COVID-19 testing or proof of vaccination status. But mandatory quarantines will be a thing of the past, making it easier for U.S. travelers to move about the continent, at least in theory.

The EU has yet to develop unified pandemic travel requirements. It also remains unclear how U.S. travelers will qualify to use the EU's QR code-based system of travel certificates.

The United Kingdom has also pushed back its timetable for rolling back coronavirus restrictions, while nonessential travel between the destination and EU countries remains off-limits due to concerns about the emergence of more dangerous coronavirus variants, making travel across the Atlantic Ocean even more complicated.

Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets and walking on beaches. Find her on Facebook and Instagram.

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