You can travel to Europe soon but there’s one catch

Vacation planning starts now? We’ll see.

American tourists who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to travel to the European Union this summer, the New York Times reported on Sunday. The lifting of the travel ban comes after a year of nonessential travel being shuttered due to controlling the spread of COVID-19 — and for vacation-starved Americans, it offers another sign of life returning to normal.

While the timeline on when tourists can freely travel abroad remains unknown, Ursula von Der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said in the report that she anticipates Americans being able to travel to the European Union due to the three readily-available vaccines in the US — Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson — being approved by the European Medicines Agency.

“This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union,” von der Leyen said.

Von der Leyen said she expects all 27 EU member states to green-light and accept travelers into their borders, but how they will do it is up for debate.

In case you’re getting excited and looking at flights and began mentally preparing to use that vacation time that your boss has been begging you to use, there are a few things you should know before booking a flight to France later today.

Can I travel to Europe this summer from the US?

It appears so. While no timeline has been set — if you get your COVID jab, you’re in. Just make sure your passport hasn’t expired and to keep an eye on what documentation is needed, both leaving the US and when arriving abroad.

How do I prove that I am vaccinated against the coronavirus?

In the US, people who started their vaccination process received cards that date when your first and second doses were administered. It’s expected that these documents will be the first step to being able to start enjoying pre-pandemic times, like going to concerts and other events.

As of now, it’s unclear how to prove you’ve been vaccinated.

There’s been talks of “vaccine passports” that some European countries have started to rollout. Denmark and Sweden announced plans to create documentation to allow people to travel outside the country, with talks of creating “digital vaccine certificates.”

Similarly, airlines have toyed with the idea of creating an app that would allow travelers to share testing and vaccination results with governing bodies.

The International Air Transport Association is working on launching a digital travel pass that can be used by travelers to “manage travel documentation digitally and seamlessly throughout the travel experience.”

Airlines in that program include Etihad Airways, Emirates, Qatar Airways, and others.

If Europe reopens it borders, does this mean I can travel anywhere in Europe?

Pump the breaks for a minute; just because one country doesn’t require a quarantine doesn’t mean they all will.

Individual EU member states can enforce stricter protocols than what’s recommended for the bloc of 27 nations. This means if you’re planning on hopping across a few countries to satisfy your travel itch, each country can set its own guidelines on what’s required where, similar to how different states in the US required mandatory quarantines for travelers during the pandemic.

Where should you travel in Europe?

While borders aren’t open everywhere yet, you can get away today if you need to.  It’s worth mentioning that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends travelers to avoid all travel to many open countries.

Greece

Greece began allowing Americans to visit the country earlier this month.

Travelers heading into Greece from abroad must provide a negative PCR test conducted no later than 72 hours before arrival. A negative test is not required if a traveler has completed their vaccination, meaning 14 days have passed since the last dose, and that they have documentation to prove it. Safety protocols remain in effect.

Iceland

Like Greece, if you’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or can show that you were previously infected, US citizens can travel to Iceland today.

Upon arriving, visitors will be subjected to one test regardless of vaccination history, where you will have to remain in quarantine until negative test results appear. This plan is being called temporary and will be reviewed by May 1.

Croatia

There’s probably a few people you follow on social media that couldn’t resist travel and found themselves in Croatia this past fall.

Visitors coming from the US must provide two pieces of documentation: a negative COVID-19 test that must not be older than 48 hours or vaccination documents. Additionally, Americans thinking they can backpack around the country are mistaken; Croatia requires tourist to provide a certificate of paid accommodation in a “hotel, camp, private renter or rented vessel,” which means AirBnb reservations won’t count.

Montenegro, Serbia, Cyrus and Georgia can also be visited today, each with their own set guidelines.

Malta

We’re not there yet but in an effort to revive tourism, Malta said it would pay travelers to come visit the Mediterranean island this summer.

Foreign visitors can get up to 200 euros ($238.1) each if they spend at least three days in Malta. There are perks like booking through five-star hotels to even earning a little extra cash by visiting Gozo, a smaller, less-frequented island of Malta.