Heathrow and Gatwick: New Year’s travel rules for Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Greece

As the Omicron variant continues to break daily case records across Europe, many popular holiday destinations have been subject to travel restrictions and border rules changed or modified.

If you’re looking to get away to the sun during the New Year, it’s worth being aware of where to go and the applicable entry requirements.

After news of airlines slashing flight schedules in the new year due to restrictions, airlines also ended up canceling more than 1,400 flights on Wednesday (December 29) in the UK, a total of more than 8,000 flights over the festive long weekend as staff were forced to isolation.

Read more: 36 countries banned or restricted Brits as Germany lifts restrictions

Aviation analytics company Cirium said around 406,060 international flights served UK airports during 2021 through December 22, compared to 1,399,170 in the pre-pandemic period of 2019, according to LancashireLive.

Vacationers should definitely be wary of planning trips for now, with foreign countries seemingly changing their restrictions on a daily basis also leading to potential cancellations.

Here is a list of regulations and restrictions in Spain, France, Germany, Italy and the Greek islands in the new year:


To enter Spain, if you are over 12 years old, you must be fully vaccinated.

There is an exception for Britons traveling for “duly approved imperative family reasons” or under exceptional circumstances that allow for a negative PCR test and a possible period of self-isolation on arrival.

Britons living in Spain can also enter the country with a negative PCR test or a “Proof of Covid recovery” document. Fully vaccinated people do not have to self-isolate upon arrival.

All passengers landing in Spain must fill in a Health Monitoring Form (also called FCS).

You will also need to check if there are local restrictions, such as curfews or restrictions on social gatherings, in effect in the area or community in which you are residing.

Flights to/from airports are exempt from the curfew as long as you carry your tickets and ID with you.


Currently, only people with essential reasons can visit France.

The Foreign Office guidance states: “All those wishing to travel from the UK to France, regardless of vaccination status, may do so only for essential reasons, as specified by the French authorities.

“French nationals, as well as residents of France, consider themselves to have an essential reason to travel.”


As of December 19, the UK is a “viral shifting region” according to German restrictions, which means that tourists cannot be taken to Germany, With some exceptions.

Carriers such as airlines are limited to carrying a narrow group of individuals from the UK to Germany, including British nationals residing in Germany and German nationals.

From December 22, travelers from virus-changing regions to Germany must have a negative PCR test within 48 hours of arrival, regardless of vaccination status – rapid antigen or other tests are no longer allowed.

From 19 December, all permitted travelers arriving in Germany from the UK must self-quarantine at home for 14 days, regardless of their vaccination status.

Children under the age of six are exempt from testing, but they must still be quarantined.


Italy will accept the UK agreement Evidence of recovery and vaccination history for Covid-19 As equivalent to “Green Corridor”.

This means that if you travel from the UK and can demonstrate that you have been fully vaccinated, you can enter Italy without having to self-isolate.

However, you will need to show evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to entering Italy, or a negative antigen test performed within 24 hours prior to entering Italy.

The British government website also warns that regardless of vaccination status, anyone arriving in Italy by air, land or sea may be randomly tested for Covid upon arrival until January 31.

More rules apply to unvaccinated passengers wishing to enter Italy – they can be seen here.

Children under 18 do not need to be quarantined if they are traveling with a parent who is fully vaccinated and has a negative PCR or antigen test, and children under six are exempt from the test.


Portugal remains open to all Britons but has specific rules about the tests you must submit to enter the country.

Unlike many other countries, Portugal only accepts tests that are performed by healthcare professionals, not tests that you do yourself.

This means that in most cases you need to take a PCR test 48 hours before your arrival and it is RT-PCR compatible. You may also enter with a negative antigen test that is taken 72 hours prior to arrival.

All passengers must complete an online passenger locator card, and if you are traveling to Madeira, the Azores or any other area outside the mainland, you will need to complete an additional questionnaire.

Anyone who takes the wrong type of test and must complete a new test at the border at their own expense is paid a fine of 300 to 800 euros.

Temperatures can also be randomly checked for travelers to Portugal. Anyone over 38C will be required to take another test at the airport and self-isolate if positive.

For all of these countries, you should check the regional requirements for wherever you are staying, as well as what the airline or transport provider you are traveling with requires regarding Covid precautions.

Greece, Corfu Islands, Crete, Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes and Kos

Greece and the Greek islands are a popular choice for travelers at this time of year as they still enjoy sunny and relatively high temperatures of over 20°C.

With commercial flights to Greece and the Greek islands still operating from the UK, thousands of Britons are striking up some last-minute deals in hopes of getting some winter sun.

If you’re traveling to Greece, Corfu, Crete, Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes and Kos, here’s what you need to know.


The Greek government has announced that from 6 a.m. on Christmas Eve, it is mandatory to wear masks (either double surgical masks or N95 masks) in all indoor and outdoor public spaces, in all regions of Greece – including the islands.

covid passports

Proof of vaccination is required to enter stores, restaurants, and museums. You must be prepared to show proof of vaccination and present your identification when asked.

You must use a face mask (double surgical mask or N65 mask) in all indoor and outdoor public and public spaces and on public transportation.

Unless all passengers are members of the same family, a maximum of three people are allowed to travel in a taxi or other private vehicle with up to seven seats, or four people in a private vehicle with up to nine seats.

The Greek government “strongly recommends” that people test themselves before any outing.

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Show your Covid-19 status

Greece will accept UK evidence of recovery and vaccination record for Covid-19.

Your final vaccine dose must have been given at least 14 days before your proof of vaccination was provided.

An NHS appointment card from immunization centers is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to prove your vaccination status.

Unvaccinated in Greece

If you have not been fully vaccinated or have no evidence of recovery from Covid-19:

  • Travel by plane, train and bus is permitted either for an approved negative PCR test in the last 72 hours before the scheduled arrival time at the destination, or for an approved rapid test (antigen) within 48 hours of the scheduled arrival at the destination.
  • You will not be allowed to enter nightclubs, indoor restaurants, theatres, cinemas, museums, exhibitions, conferences, gyms and stadiums.
  • You must provide evidence of a negative rapid test, which took up to 48 hours before entry, to visit other public places including outdoor stores and restaurants.
  • Failure to comply with these rules may result in fines of up to 5,000 euros.

Unvaccinated children between the ages of 4 and 18 need a negative self-test to enter public places such as stores, restaurants and museums.

Traveling within Greece

Travel within Greece is permitted in accordance with the following public health measures. You must wear a mask at all times on all public transportation.

Travel by air and sea to the rest of Greece is permitted for those aged 12 and over but only with any of:

  • Proof of vaccination and 14 days after the second dose.
  • Negative result from PCR test performed 72 hours before travel.
  • Negative result from an approved rapid test up to 48 hours before travel; or

Children between the ages of 5 and 11 can travel with a negative self-test up to 24 hours before the scheduled travel time.

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