Working overseas – travel restrictions update

Working overseas travel restrictions

22nd March 2021

Seasoned international contractors will know why working globally can be so rewarding. However, due to the global pandemic and countries imposing strict rules on the free movement of labour, it’s certainly been a tough year. But some restrictions are lifting. So, what are the latest travel restrictions affecting top global destinations for those looking for opportunities to work, whether for the short term or longer term in a new country?

Latest news for contractors working overseas

According to Schengen Visa Info, the French government has recently agreed to trial a vaccine passport scheme in association with Air France, the biggest domestic French player and one of the leading global air carriers, by passenger numbers and revenue, in the world. French Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebarri announced that the initiative would initially be limited to flights to French overseas territories, Guadeloupe and Martinique. He said, “It could offer a preview, or at least a large-scale test, of a future ‘travel pass’” that would “ensure against fraud and shorten waiting lines”.

The French idea is similar in principle to the EU’s digital ‘green pass’ certificate which was revealed by EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen for those who are COVID-19 free. Like other certificates being introduced by several countries, France’s ‘pass’ has come under criticism for discriminating against those who have not been vaccinated and could therefore be deemed as a violation of human rights.

Although non-essential travel is still banned for those outside the EU and Schengen Area, as of 11th March, France has now loosened its restrictions for seven non-EU countries: Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, the UK and Singapore. The French Foreign Ministry has said that “a compelling reason for travel to or from” these countries will no longer apply but individuals must still prove that they haven’t got the virus, by either providing evidence of a negative PCR test or agreeing to self-isolate and submitting a negative test at the end of their stay.

Limitations to living and working abroad

As well as the challenges of adapting to a new culture and learning the local language, restrictions across Europe are making it harder for international contractors to travel. The same news website reports that Estonia’s government continues to take maximum precautions to halt the spread of the virus. The only seven countries exempt from its infection rate measure – where over 150 people per 100,000 inhabitants carry the infection – are Spain, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Portugal, Germany and Denmark. Other countries are subject to a 10-day restriction except for citizens of Latvia and Lithuania, but only if they have had a negative test result in the last 72 hours.

Based on data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDPC), an agency of the EU whose mission is to combat infectious diseases, the Czech Republic has placed Hungary, Sweden and Madeira into the dark red category of countries profoundly affected by the pandemic. Citizens from these countries will be required to not only present a negative test carried out in the last three days but also to take a second PCR test after five days once in the Czech Republic. Finland and Monaco have also been placed into the red category following a spate in infection rate increases.

Sweden and Hungary are also among those placed on the list of countries facing enhanced controls by Lithuania, the Baltic state applying the number of people infected with the British variant of COVID-19 as its measuring stick. Malta and Serbia had been previously added to the list. As of 10th March, all people travelling to Lithuania from international carrier routes must present a negative test, which is less than 72 hours old. Exemptions apply to those who have been vaccinated or have recovered, as well as crew members, those in transit and the under 16s.

Meanwhile, Italy’s Ministry of Health is now allowing US visitors to travel quarantine free, although they have to provide a negative test result prior to leaving and also be tested again upon arrival. So far this applies to flights from New York or Atlanta to Milan and Rome. The COVID-tested flight ruling however applies to those with essential travel motives, such as study or work; given the success so far, it could be extended to other non-EU countries whose citizens have to normally isolate for 14 days. With infections still at dangerous levels, Italy has imposed an inter-regional national ban until the end of March.

Elsewhere, Slovenia’s Ministry of the Interior overturned the proposals of its own Interior Minister, which had removed the requirement for certain landowners to test weekly for COVID-19. A statement from the Ministry’s website published on Schengen Visa Info said, “The expert group did not accept the interior minister’s proposal for owners of land on both sides of the border to be exempt from the weekly testing requirement, which means that as of March 15 2021, this requirement continues to apply to them as well as other exceptional cases who are allowed to cross the border.”

Working overseas: compliance is key

International contractors travelling the world, looking to work abroad, experience a new culture and meet new people must keep abreast of the latest travel restrictions. Whether requiring a working holiday visa or work visa, contractors need to be aware of different things, such as the cost of living. But above all they must meet all tax, social security and immigration requirements, or face potential firms, criminal charges or even deportation.

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