What You Should Know About the European Travel Ban

Elina GellerJuly 28, 2020

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  • Updates:

    March 14

    • The Trump administration has added the United Kingdom and Ireland to the restricted country list.


    On March 11, 2020, President Donald Trump issued a 30-day travel ban from most countries in Europe to the U.S. for all foreign nationals in an effort to help curb the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. On March 14, 2020, the administration added the United Kingdom and Ireland to the ban.

    U.S. citizens, permanent residents and their family members aren't subject to the travel ban. However, it may be necessary to transit through specific U.S. airports if arriving from countries with ongoing outbreaks.

    The travel ban was announced after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. In addition, on the same day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Level 3 travel advisory, urging individuals to avoid all nonessential travel to Europe. The full list can be found here.

    Given the constantly changing situation and the general uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve compiled a list of questions that relate to this new travel ban.

    1. Which countries are affected by the travel ban?

    • Austria.

    • Belgium.

    • Czech Republic.

    • Denmark.

    • Estonia.

    • Finland.

    • France.

    • Germany.

    • Greece.

    • Hungary.

    • Iceland.

    • Ireland.

    • Italy.

    • Latvia.

    • Liechtenstein.

    • Lithuania.

    • Luxembourg.

    • Malta.

    • Netherlands.

    • Norway.

    • Poland.

    • Portugal.

    • Slovakia.

    • Slovenia.

    • Spain.

    • Sweden.

    • Switzerland.

    • United Kingdom.

    2. Will I be affected by the travel ban?

    If you are a citizen, permanent resident or, in most cases, a family member of a U.S. citizen, you aren't restricted under the current ban. However, you may be required to travel through a specific domestic airport and be subject to additional screening measures upon your return. In addition, the CDC states that travelers who return home from any European country on its list are required to remain at home for 14 days upon return. Since it can take up to 14 days for coronavirus symptoms to appear, the CDC recommends that during the 14 days, travelers monitor their health and practice social distancing.

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    3. I am in Europe. Should I come home now?

    Given that the CDC is advising U.S. citizens to avoid nonessential travel to Europe, it may make sense to schedule your return home earlier than planned. Airlines, hotels and online travel agencies (OTAs) have modified change and cancellation policies during this time. If you’re worried about losing money on nonrefundable bookings, the flexible change and cancellation policies should make it easier to get a refund. Only you can decide whether the country you’re in poses a health risk to you. However, your health and safety are a priority, so if your travel is nonessential, it may make sense to consider coming home sooner than later.

    4. What steps should I take to get back to the U.S. from Europe?

    If you are in one of the countries affected by the travel ban and you belong to the group that isn't prohibited from entering the U.S., you will be allowed to return home. However, you may need to transit through a specific airport. Based on guidance from the CDC, you will likely be required to remain at home for 14 days upon your return. During those two weeks, the CDC recommends that you monitor your health and practice social distancing to avoid potentially spreading the coronavirus.

    5. What if I have a trip planned to Europe? Should I cancel my travel now?

    Given the uncertainty with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, governments are doing their best to help curb the spread of the disease. If you have a trip planned to Europe, you need to consider how risky it would be to travel. Is the country you’re visiting experiencing a surge in new cases? Will you have access to the medical care you need while traveling? Are you traveling to a remote area that is difficult to access or depart from in the case that you need to leave quickly? Could the country you’re traveling to impose a quarantine on people currently in the county?

    A lot of these questions don't have firm answers given the rapidly changing situation. In response, airlines, hotels, OTAs and Airbnb have loosened their change and cancellation policies to help travelers. Deciding whether to travel now is a personal choice. However, since this is a hectic time and country policies seem to change on a daily basis, consider whether having to deal with this sort of stress while you’re traveling is worth it or if it's best to reschedule your plans.

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