Coronavirus: Commission presents practical guidance on implementing the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU

covid airport

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.

Today, the European Commission has issued guidance on the implementation of the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU. Together with guidance to ensure free movement of critical workers, this responds to requests made in the Statement of the Members of the European Council of 26 March 2020 to facilitate transit arrangements for repatriated citizens and seeks to address citizens’ and companies’ practical concerns about the measures taken to limit the spread of the coronavirus, as well as of national authorities implementing the measures.

Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas said: “We can only succeed in successfully combatting this crisis if we work together. I welcome that almost all EU Member States are now implementing the restriction on travel into the EU. We are now providing additional guidance to make sure these are implemented all in the same way. The more uniform national actions are, the easier they will be for third-country nationals to understand and respect.”

Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said: “With the guidance adopted today, we want to ensure that all border guards at the EU’s external borders facilitate the return home of EU citizens stranded abroad and that persons with essential functions or needs are not stopped, while taking appropriate and proportionate measures ensuring public health and security.”

This guidance, which will assist border guards and visa authorities, provides advice on the implementation of the temporary restriction at the border, on facilitating transit arrangements for the repatriation of EU citizens, and on visa issues. It addresses issues that Member States raised in the bi-weekly videoconferences of Home Affairs Ministers and in technical meetings with Member States.

Implementation of the temporary travel restriction at the borders

Detailed practical guidance is provided for border authorities on key issues, such as:

  • Criteria for refusing entry: The restriction on non-essential travel to the EU applies to non-resident, non-EU nationals that present relevant symptoms or have been particularly exposed to risk of infection and are considered a threat to public health. Any decision on refusal of entry must be proportionate and non-discriminatory. To determine whether a traveller poses such a risk, border guards are invited to consult the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control guidance available here.
  • Exemptions: Nationals of all EU Member States and Schengen Associated Countries, and their family members, and non-EU nationals who are long-term residents in the EU are exempt from the temporary travel restriction for the purpose of returning home. Nationals of San Marino, Andorra, Monaco and Vatican/Holy See should be considered nationals of Member States to allow them to return home. Certain workers from outside the EU are also exempt, for example healthcare professionals, frontier workers, and seasonal agricultural workers.
  • Security: For travellers who are permitted entry, border authorities should strictly enforce the Schengen Borders Code. They should verify the authenticity of travel documents and national authorities must enforce systematic checks against the Schengen Information System to protect against potential terrorist threats or cross border criminality. Passports of non-EU nationals should be stamped.
  • Exit checks: Border authorities should provide information on the travel restriction and cases of concern should be referred immediately to the relevant health services. In case national border control resources are exhausted, Member States may give priority to entry checks over exit checks, to the extent possible without affecting national sanitary measures.

Transit and repatriation

Member States must facilitate onward transit of nationals of all EU Member States and Schengen Associated Countries, and their family members, irrespective of their nationality, as well as third country nationals holding a residence permit and their dependants who are returning to their Member State of nationality or residence.

Nationals of Serbia, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Turkey should be treated in the same way when repatriated under the Union Civil Protection Mechanism since they are Participating States to the Mechanism.

Visa applications and overstay

Member States’ consulates should remain open and ensure minimum service for processing visa applications by travellers exempted from the temporary travel restrictions.

Non-EU travellers who have to stay in the EU longer than they are authorised to because of travel restrictions should not be penalised. For travellers currently present in the Schengen area on a short-stay visa who are compelled to stay longer than their visa allows them to, Member States may extend the visa up to a maximum stay of 90 days in any 180 days. In addition, Member States should issue a long-stay visa or a temporary residence permit to short-stay visa holders and those travelling visa-free who are compelled to stay beyond 90 days in any 180 days.

Member States are also encouraged to waive sanctions on non-EU travellers who would be unable to leave in time because of travel restrictions. Overstays linked to travel restrictions should not be taken into account when processing future visa applications.

For More Information

Guidance on the implementation of the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU and, on the facilitation of transit arrangements for the repatriation of EU citizens, and on the effects on visa policy

Joint statement of the Members of the European Council, 26 March 2020


the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Feeling the heat? This is how to keep cool as temperatures rise

Brazil’s hopeless future of science

UN chief sends condolences to families of Malawi flood victims

Denouncing attacks against Baghdad protesters, UN warns ‘violence risks placing Iraq on dangerous trajectory’

UN chief commends African Union on adoption of institutional reforms

The entire Australian state of New South Wales is in drought

What will it take for the world’s third-largest economy to empower women?

ECB’s unconventional monetary measures give first tangible results

On International Youth Day the European Youth Forum calls for true youth participation

For how long will terror and economic stagnation be clouding the European skies?

FROM THE FIELD: Rohingya babies conceived out of ‘incomprehensible brutality’

IMF’s Lagarde: Ukraine must fight corruption

These are the world’s healthiest nations

Happens now in Brussels: Green Week sets the EU and global climate policy agenda

New UN report launched to help ratchet up action to combat climate crisis

Why Commissioner Rehn wants us all to work more for less

COP21 Breaking News_09 December: List of Recent Climate Funding Announcements

EU to give more power to national antitrust authorities in a bid to secure regulatory fines

In Chad, top UN officials say humanitarian response must go ‘hand in hand’ with longer-term recovery

The space internet race is dawning. Here’s what to expect

International tourism is set to plunge by 80% this year – but some regions could recover more quickly

Connectivity and collaboration in the ICT industry: the key to socio-economic development

5 amazing schools that will make you wish you were young again

Chatterbox Rome Declaration cannot save the EU; Germany has to pay more to do that

Coronavirus has exposed human rights gaps. We need to fix this

Trump’s Pandemic Failure: A Missed Opportunity

Main results of Foreign Affairs EU Council, 16/07/2018

Egypt urged to free prominent couple jailed arbitrarily since last June: UN rights office

Polish PM chooses to focus on economy, amid questions on rule of law in Poland

Brexit kick-off: a historic day for the EU anticlockwise

Avocado: the ‘green gold’ causing environment havoc

Why press freedom should be at the top of everyone’s agenda

Lack of involvement, or lack of opportunities?

How cities can lead the way in bridging the global housing gap

Link between conflict and hunger worldwide, ‘all too persistent and deadly’, says new UN report

Eritrea sanctions lifted amid growing rapprochement with Ethiopia: Security Council

EU: Divided they stand on immigration and Trump hurricanes

How Costa Rica’s environment minister talks to his daughter about climate change

1 million citizens try to create a new EU institution

From cheeseburgers to coral reefs, the science of decision-making can change the world

Chart of the day: The internet has a language diversity problem

Depression is the no. 1 cause of ill health and disability worldwide

Minority governments ‘à la mode’ in Europe but can they last long?

EU citizens disenchanted with Economic and Monetary Union over rising poverty and high unemployment

Women and girls in science – from aspiration to reality

European Junior Enterprise Network – Ready to take the Step Into the Future?

High-tech or ‘high-touch’: UK survey gives clues to the jobs of the future

The EU Commission fails to draw the right conclusions about corruption

Entrepreneurship’s key to success showcased by a serial young entrepreneur

Climate change and health: public health awareness in an international framework

Why are the financial markets shivering again?

Here’s what a Korean boy band can teach us about globalization 4.0

Why your next work meeting should be a ‘walk-and-talk’

Brussels waits for the Germans to arrive

COVID-19: Commission provides guidance on EU passenger rights

Preparing the future today: World Health Organisation and young doctors

How cities around the world are handling COVID-19 – and why we need to measure their preparedness

Threat from petty criminals who turn to terrorism, a growing concern, Security Council hears

A rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the war-torn Yemen

25 years after population conference, women still face challenges to ‘well-being and human rights’, says UN chief

More Stings?


Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s