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EU recommends new travel restrictions for U.S. travelers: Here's what you need to know

"Before you cancel, keep monitoring your destination's tourism websites."

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Earlier this week, the European Union took the United States off its "safe list" of countries. Residents of countries on the safe list can travel to the EU's 27 countries without additional safety measures.

Being off the list doesn't mean U.S. citizens cannot travel to EU nations, but it does mean some travelers will have to meet additional requirements such as quarantine and testing.

'It remains to be seen' how EU recommendation could affect vaccinated travelers

The European Council of the EU, which announced the new restrictions, is encouraging EU countries to impose mandatory testing and quarantines for unvaccinated Americans. Vaccinated travelers and essential travel will still be permitted.

Whether or not to enforce the restriction is being left up to each individual nation. So if you have a trip booked, you don't necessarily need to cancel or reschedule, says Lily Fu, Travelzoo travel deals expert. Wait to see what, if any, changes your destination country implements.

"Before you cancel, keep monitoring your destination's tourism websites to stay on top of the most up-to-date information and entry requirements," she says. "The EU is just recommending that their member countries prohibit non-essential travel by Americans, so it remains to be seen who will and who won't."

Standard travel insurance won't cover 'border closures'

If you're booking travel to an EU nation now, the "best option for travelers concerned about border closures impacting their trip is to purchase a Cancel For Any Reason policy," says Megan Moncrief, chief marketing officer at Squaremouth. 

"It is uncommon for travel insurance policies to include coverage specific to border closures," she says. "This is one of the primary gaps in coverage in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic. Currently, there are no standard Trip Cancellation policies on our website that include coverage for foreign destinations closing their borders to U.S. tourists."

The EU is just recommending that their member countries prohibit non-essential travel by Americans, so it remains to be seen who will and who won't.
Lily Fu
Travelzoo travel deals expert

If you have a trip booked for September, it is unlikely you can buy CFAR insurance now. "If a traveler has an upcoming trip to Europe, especially one in September, and is concerned about possible border closures, I would not advise buying a travel insurance policy now."

Travelers must purchase a CFAR policy typically within 21 days of booking their trip. "We started seeing a spike in bookings to European countries in May of this year, meaning most travelers planning to visit countries in the European Union are no longer eligible for a Cancel For Any Reason policy," Moncrief says.

And unfortunately, other insurance policies probably will not protect you, she says.

If a traveler has an upcoming trip to Europe, especially one in September ... I would not advise buying a travel insurance policy now.
Megan Moncrief
chief marketing officer at Squaremouth

3 strategies to change your travel plans

If you are re-thinking a trip but don't have travel insurance, you still might be able to change dates of flights or accommodations or otherwise get some money back, says Fu. Here's how:

  • See if your plane ticket is refundable. "If you booked on Delta or United, they are waiving change fees for Basic Economy, their lowest class seats, if you're traveling by December, 31, 2021," Fu says. "Any class above Basic Economy on the major airlines will offer you the flexibility to change your travel dates." If you redeemed miles for your flight or hotel, those might be more easily refunded.
  • Call the hotel and see if you can change your reservation: "Many hotels are also offering flexible cancellations, oftentimes 24 to 72 hours prior to arrival," she says.
  • Check to see if your cruise or vacation package offers flexibility. "If you booked a cruise or vacation package, many companies are offering free cancellations or free travel date changes if it's done with enough advance notice," Fu says.

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