21st May 2021
Even though restrictions are easing in some European Union (EU) member states as the COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out, there are still many travel limitations that apply and which affect international contractors. Health organisations in countries across the EU all have their own rules and regulations, including social distancing and the wearing of masks, and these are changing regularly. Here we bring you the latest updates concerning the freedom of movement and labour in the EU.
Latest travel updates for the EU
Starting with Denmark, the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that as of 1st May its citizens can travel to those countries that are in the orange category as long as they have received a COVID vaccination. This means that they can travel to these locations without taking a test or having to self-isolate when they return – with the exception of children in the 15-17 age bracket. The same scenario applies to those who have fully recovered from the virus.
Foreigners travelling to Denmark from ‘orange’ states and who have been vaccinated can also enter the country without the requirement to self-isolate or provide a test. However, due to concerns surrounding the spread of new variants, the Ministry remains cautious in its application of the changes and recently issued a statement saying that “the stricter entry requirements when travelling from red countries and regions continue to apply”. All visitors, however, must present proof of vaccination or evidence that they have recovered from the virus.
As part of its preparation to reopen its borders for the summer, France will apply a traffic light system, which will be introduced by the end of May, for visitors coming from outside the EU. Used by other countries such as Denmark, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Cyprus and Norway, it consists of a classification of three colours – red, orange and green – which denote the travel restrictions and quarantine measures affecting travellers from those countries.
“We will be happy to welcome Europeans just as French people will be happy to visit Europe,” said French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, in an interview for news site, Europe 1. “Regarding countries that are outside the European area [EU and Schengen zone countries], we will work on lists and colours. There will be the green countries, orange countries and red countries,” he added. President Macron had previously spoken about the country’s intention to ease travel restrictions for those who had received COVID-19 vaccines from non-EU countries such as the US.
Vaccination requirements for international contractors
Following lower reported cases, Cyprus has moved Slovakia from its high to medium risk of countries, with citizens of the latter no longer having to quarantine upon arrival. Visitors from the central European country will still have to present a negative test result that has been carried out in the previous 72 hours. Cyprus’s government is also using the same traffic light system, applying data supplied by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
Citizens from all countries who have had their COVID vaccinations and have a valid certificate to prove it, will be allowed to enter the eastern Mediterranean island without having to test or self-isolate. This applies to EU member states, EEA member states such as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, as well as non-EU countries like the UK, US and Canada. Cyprus, which depends heavily on tourism, was the first EU nation to allow in all vaccinated travellers; from 10th May travellers from 65 countries can visit without any further testing or isolation requirements.
Elsewhere, the Irish government has decided to take Italy and Austria off its list of countries whose citizens have to hotel quarantine, although the measures remain in place for other EU member states, including France, Luxembourg and Belgium. Those travellers who have to undertake a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine must do so at their own expense and have to pre-book in a designated facility while presenting evidence of this before they can travel to Ireland.
Stricter restrictions will apply to visitors entering Lithuania from Costa Rica, Mongolia and the Maldives. The country’s Ministry of Health also announced that arrivals from Bermuda and Serbia would have to adhere to its standard isolation requirements. What this means is that travellers from these and other countries will have to provide a completed questionnaire to their flight operator and all those over 16 years of age must take a COVID-19 test 72 hours prior to travelling. A mandatory self-isolation of 10 days will then be imposed.
Interestingly, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel has raised the hopes of unvaccinated travellers by stating that they might be able to travel freely in Europe during the summer if the situation continues to improve. No date has been set, though. “Step by step, more will be possible in Germany, too, wherever the incidence drops, and that will hopefully be the case for all of Europe,” she remarked. While Germany is now allowing greater freedom for those who have had their vaccinations and have recovered from COVID during the last six months, this still only applies for essential travel purposes.
Following vaccination requirements and compliance is key for international contractors
With the situation improving across the EU, and as more countries and health organisations require a vaccine to allow their people to travel with fewer restrictions, borders are opening up making it easier for international contractors to pursue opportunities abroad. However, they must follow local tax and compliance regulations to ensure that they meet their tax obligations and operate in the correct manner according to the specific requirements of the individual country’s tax authority.
If you’d like to know more and better understand your tax, legal and employment compliance requirements across Europe and over 75 countries around the world, our 6CATS specialists can provide all the advice you need. Contact our team of experts today.