The EU is reopening its borders for internal travel

reopening internal borders

The coronavirus outbreak forced countries around the world, including the Schengen member states, to introduce travel restrictions and entry bans.

The EU closed its external borders in March 2020. Non-EU citizens and residents were no longer allowed to enter the Schengen Area, although some exceptions applied. This was followed by the closure of internal Schengen borders, a step that is allowed by EU law only in times of emergency.

Fortunately, most European nations have now relaxed entry restrictions and removed temporary internal borders. Movement between many EU nations is possible without restrictions whilst other nations have some additional entry requirements.

Normally, there are no strong borders between Schengen countries. This means no customs or document checks when crossing an internal border. EU citizens and foreign nationals with a Schengen visa or, starting from 2022, an ETIAS permit can usually move freely across the Schengen Area.

Keep reading to find out which Schengen Area countries have fully reopened internal borders and where some travel restrictions remain in place.

Finland: open for work and study purposes

Since May 14th, travel between Finland and other EU countries has been possible for work or study purposes. Other essential reasons for travel are also permitted including urgent family matters are also permitted.

In other cases, Finland’s borders remain closed to non-residents travelling from elsewhere in the Schengen Area. Current restrictions will be in place until at least November 22nd 2020.

Germany: free from internal borders

Germany was among the first to abolish border controls — specifically, at the border with Luxembourg on the 16th of May.

Travellers from across the Schengen Area have been able to enter Germany since June 25th. EU citizens who have visited any of the designated high-risk areas in the last 14 days are required to have a COVID-19 test and under 14-day quarantine on arrival.

Bulgaria: no restrictions on EU visitors

On the 22nd of May, Bulgaria lifted the entry ban for EU and Schengen citizens and residents. The lift included travellers from San Marino, Andorra, and Vatican City.

Travellers from EU countries, the Schengen Area and the UK are not required to quarantine or present a negative COVID-19 test.

Hungary: only essential trade and business

Hungary reintroduced border controls on September 1st in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases in Europe. Internal borders are currently closed to all Schengen Area states. EU citizens may be allowed to enter Hungary for essential trade or business purposes.

In such cases, an official letter from a company, invitation event, or other documentary proof is required. Other exemptions may also apply in special circumstances. Current restrictions will be reviewed on November 29th 2020.

Czech Republic: low, medium, and high-risk areas

The Czech Republic is now categorizing countries into low, medium, and high-risk. Citizens of Schengen Area member states on the green list may travel to Czechia without having to submit a negative PCR test or quarantine.

Travellers from EU countries not classified as low-risk may only enter the country for specific essential purposes.

Croatia: no internal border restrictions

There are no internal border restrictions in Croatia. Since July 1st, 2020, EU citizens have been able to visit Croatia without any additional restrictions or quarantine requirements.

Lithuania: access depends on the COVID-19 rate

Residents and citizens of the European Economic Area, Switzerland and the United Kingdom can enter Lithuania provided the rate of COVID-19 in their country of residence does not exceed 25 cases/100,000 of the population in the last 14 days.

Travellers arriving from a country with a rate of 16-25 cases per 100,000 must isolate for 10 days. The list of permitted countries is updated and published every Monday.

Estonia: entry for travellers without coronavirus symptoms

EU citizens and residents may enter Estonia provided they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms. Quarantine is required if arriving from any nation with a COVID-19 rate over 15/100,000 of the population in the last 14 days.

Citizens and residents of Latvia and Lithuania do not have to self-isolate as long as they do not have any coronavirus symptoms.

Italy: no internal borders but some travellers require a test

Tourists from most Schengen and EU countries have been able to enter Italy without restrictions or quarantine requirements since June 3rd.

Foreigners entering Italy from Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Czechia, Spain, the UK and Northern Ireland must submit a negative molecular or antigenic COVID-19 test to be granted entry.

Slovakia: open to visitors from low-risk EU countries

Slovakia’s internal borders are open to travellers who have only been EU countries classified as low-risk in the last 14 days.

Foreigners, including EU citizens, who have visited a country not on the low-risk list may enter through an internal border from the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, and Hungary subject to quarantine requirements.

Austria: travellers from high-risk countries require a test

Austria has reopened internal borders to travellers arriving from EU member states. Anyone who has been in one of the areas considered to have an elevated risk of COVID-19 is required to show a negative COVID-19 test result issued within 72 hours of arrival.

Only Austrian residents can enter the country from a high-risk area without the medical certificate.

France: sworn health declaration required

France’s internal borders have been removed, EU citizens and residents can travel to the country without having to self-isolate. All air passengers are required to complete a ‘sworn statement’ declaring they do not have any symptoms and have not been in contact with a positive COVID-19 patient in the last 2 weeks.

Belgium: internal borders now open

Internal borders have been removed and foreigners can travel to Belgium from countries in the European Economic Area, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.

Norway: people from high-risk areas required to quarantine

Norway has introduced colour classification. From Monday 9th November travellers arriving from red, high-risk areas will be required to quarantine and present a negative COVID-19 test.

Switzerland: borders open to EU citizens and residents

On 15th June, Switzerland opened its borders to citizens and residents of the following countries:

  • All EU member states
  • The UK
  • The Schengen associated countries (Liechtenstein, Norway, and Iceland)

Denmark: entry requirements depend on COVID-19 rates

Denmark has drawn up ‘open’ and ‘banned’ country lists depending on the current COVID-19 risk posed. The status will change depending on the latest data.

Travellers crossing an internal border from closed nations can only enter for essential purposes and must present a negative COVID-19 test on arrival.

Greece: COVID-19 test needed to enter

Greece has removed internal borders, travellers can now enter Greece from EU/Schengen Area countries as well as the UK. From Monday 9th November all travellers must present a negative COVID-19 test in order to be granted entry.

Holland: colour-coded entry system introduced

Internal borders have been reopened and it is now possible to travel to the Netherlands from EU nations for non-essential travel. A Health Declaration Form is required by all passengers.

A colour-coded system has been introduced: anyone arriving from a red, high-risk area must self-isolate for 10 days on arrival. Tourist accommodation must be booked before travelling.

Malta: borders open with tests for amber regions

Since October 23rd, individuals from the following ‘amber’ countries have been required to provide a negative PCR COVID-19 test:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France (all Paris airports and Marseille), Hungary, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland (Gdansk, Krakow), Portugal (Porto), Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, and Girona airports), Switzerland, Tunisia, the United Kingdom (Belfast, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester or Newcastle).

Travellers from countries on the green list can enter Malta without such restrictions. The list is being reviewed and updated regularly.

Spain: internal borders removed to Schengen Area states

Spain has reopened its borders to EU, Schengen Area, and UK citizens and residents. Travellers are not required to self-isolate but must complete an FCS health form online 48 hours before departure. A QR code is generated and should be presented on arrival. Temperature checks are also in place.

A negative COVID-19 test that was taken no more than 72 hours before departure is required to enter the Canary Islands from November 14th.

Portugal: non-essential travel to Portugal now possible

Portugal has reopened internal borders. Travellers can now enter Portugal from EU and Schengen nations, UK citizens can also enter without testing and quarantine restrictions.