Navigating travel in Europe during the pandemic: From mobile apps, certificates and quarantine to traffic light system

J.I. Blanford*, Nienke Beerlage - de Jong, Stephanie Schouten, A.W. Friedrich, Vera Araujo Soares

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: Ever since 2020, travelling has become complex, and increasingly so as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. To reopen Europe safely, a consensus of travel measures has been agreed between countries to enable movement between countries with as few restrictions as possible. However, communication of these travel measures and requirements for entry are not always clear and easily available. The aim of this study was to assess the availability, accessibility and harmonization of current travel information available in Europe. Methods: We performed a systematic documental analysis of online publicly available information and synthesized travel entry requirements for all countries in the European Union and Schengen Area (N = 31). For each country we assessed entry requirements, actions after entry, how risk was assessed, and how accessible the information was. Results: We found varying measures implemented across Europe for entry and a range of exemptions and restrictions, some of which were consistent between countries. Information was not always easy to find taking on average 10 clicks to locate. Twenty-one countries required pre-travel forms to be completed. Forty apps were in use, 11 serving as digital certification checkers. All countries required some form of COVID-19 certification for entry with some exemptions (e.g. children). Nineteen percent (n = 6) of countries used the ECDC risk assessment system; 80% (n = 25) defined their own. Forty-eight percent (n = 15) of countries used a traffic-light system with 2-5 risk classifications. Conclusion: A comprehensive set of measures has been developed to enable continued safe travel in Europe. However further refinements and coordination is needed to align travel measures throughout the EU to minimize confusion and maximize adherence to requested measures. We recommend that, along with developing travel measures based on a common set of rules, a standard approach is taken to communicate what these measures are.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbertaac006
JournalJournal of Travel Medicine
Issue number3
Early online date3 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Geo-health


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