Popular European access points and travel corridors for third-country nationals

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Business aviation travel to Europe by third-party nationals not on the EC Safe List  continues to rise month-over-month, as operators take advantage of a growing number of popular European access points and “travel corridors.”

Despite the tightening of the EC’s Safe List, which has been reduced by a third since its initial publishing, more flights with third-country nationals are getting into more European countries – particularly from the U.S.

At first glance, the increase in traffic appears counterintuitive. The United States was not on the initial safe list and no addition appears imminent. Many U.S. operators and other countries’ citizens not on the list interpreted this to mean any summer plans they had in Europe, for business and otherwise, were automatically a no-go.

European access points and travel corridor countries have proven that assumption incorrect. Here’s everything you need to know about accessing Europe via a travel corridor and the most popular corridors this month.

A fundamental difference in how the U.S. and Europe impose restrictions

It’s important to understand a fundamental difference in how the United States and Europe differ in restricting third-party nationals.

In the United States, entry by any non-U.S. foreign national who has been in a suspended region over the past 14 days is HIGHLY RESTRICTED and will be denied, with few exceptions.

In Europe most EU countries restrictions are departure-based and not nationality-based—like in U.S. Meaning, once a third-country national gains access to a safe list country, then it may be possible to directly access an EU country.

But what about the “safe list?”

The thing to keep in mind about the safe list is that it’s merely a recommendation and not law binding. That means that each country is interpreting and applying it individually with wide variances among EU member countries.

Schengen Country Corridors

This is by far the most popular corridor method. Most Schengen countries are open to travel from other Schengen counties. If you can access one, you have many options for intra-Europe travel. Schengen countries include:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

UK/Ireland Corridors

While UK and Ireland aren’t Schengen countries, you do have access options into other European countries after you clear UK/Ireland CIQ.

Business Purpose Travel

Many EU countries are allowing direct access by third-country national for legitimate business purpose. If you can produce a business purpose letter, you’ve got a great shot in. For instance, Italy has been very accommodating on allowing passengers into the country for business purposes. Once you are in Italy, a Schengen country, you have options for intra-EU travel.

The Golden Visa

Foreign nationals can also purchase access into Europe through a Golden Visa program. Countries like Portugal, Cyprus, Malta and others have programs that grant you – and your immediate family – citizenship or residency status if you make a real estate investment in the country. These programs were previously popular for tax purposes, but now they’ve taken on a whole new life.

A rapidly growing trend of aircraft owners and charter passengers pursuing this route for access into Europe. Remember, if you have citizenship in one Schengen country, you can access most others.

Consider COVID testing requirements

Many Schengen countries requiring a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of arrival. Turkey and the UK remain popular and convenient jump points to a next destination with 48-hour test validity requirements. Universal Aviation has rapid PCR testing providers set up at both Universal Aviation and Universal Aviation Turkey.

European access points

Below is a list of proven access point. Keep in mind that each country has its own unique rules for COVID-19 testing and quarantine so always check with your trip support team for the latest. Last-minute changes are also a possibility.

  • Albania – Open, but normal visa restrictions apply. Quarantine required only if COVID-19 test is positive.
  • Armenia – U.S. passengers are allowed entry. Options include self-isolations for 14 days or take a PCR test. In case of a negative PCR result, no quarantine required.
  • Austria – U.S. citizens with a business purpose are allowed entry with proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior. Or, U.S. citizens can enter via intra-Schengen without restrictions.
  • Belarus – Proof of a negative PCR test required within 48 hours of departure date.
  • Belgium – U.S. citizens can travel to Belgium directly in with an invitation letter from a Belgian company, or via a second stop entering from a Schengen country.
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina – U.S. citizens are allowed entry with an invitation letter and proof of negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours of arrival.
  • Croatia – Allowing entry based on economic interest or tourism. While not a Schengen country, this is a very popular access point for the Mediterranean. Our Universal Aviation offices in Italy are helping coordinate arrangements to enter Croatia for customers. COVID PCR test required for pax 48 hours prior to ETA, or you will be quarantined for 14 days.
  • Denmark – U.S. citizens can travel to Denmark directly with an invitation letter from a Danish company. Note this is a Schengen country.
  • Germany – Will accept intra-Schengen flights. If U.S. passengers can clear in another Schengen country (e.g., Denmark), they can get in.
  • France –
    • Corridor Access – France’s NOTAM is departure-based and not nationality-based. This significantly opens up access to third-country nationals (including U.S. citizens). As long as the aircraft first clears in another Schengen country or the UK before proceeding to France, third country nationals can enter France. We’ve managed a good number of flight through the UK-France corridor – coordinating between our Universal Aviation FBO in Stansted and Universal Aviation FBO in Paris to make these flights happen. Despite the UK quarantine restrictions on France, this corridor is still open! A public Health Passenger Locator Form and Int’l Travel Certificate is required. PCR testing also applies.
    • Direct Access – U.S. passengers traveling directly to France must present a permit issued by the French Embassy or General French Consulate to enter French territory. COVID testing 72 hours prior to arrival for everyone on board, including crew, required.
  • Ireland – Open, with quarantine for length of stay, up to 14 days. Our Universal Aviation offices in Dublin and Shannon can assist.
  • Italy – There are a few ways third-country nationals (including U.S. citizens) can enter, and complete details are online:
    • Business purposes with prior approval, and Universal Aviation Italy reports that Italian authorities have been approving many requests. Max ground time is 120 hours, and quarantine IS NOT required if the flight is approved. You’ll need a letter from a local business stating your business purposes to enter. If you have offices or business interests in Italy, you have a good chance of getting in. We’re seeing all kinds of business reasons being approved, ranging from meetings to modeling. We can help you navigate this process.
    • Intra-Schengen. But travel history will dictate if a passenger will need to quarantine or not.
  • Latvia – Open with a 2-week quarantine or for length of stay up to 2 weeks. Exemption from the quarantine is possible with permission from the Ministry of Transport. This is an EU Schengen country.
  • Moldova – Allowed for essential business with diplomatic approval.
  • Montenegro – Open for business or tourism to U.S. citizens. Proof of a negative PCR test required.
  • Netherlands – U.S. citizens can travel to the Netherlands directly with a business invitation letter from a Dutch company, or via a second stop entering from a Schengen country.
  • Poland – Will accept intra-Schengen flights. If U.S. passengers can clear in another Schengen country (e.g., Denmark), they can get in.
  • Portugal – Accessible to third-country nationals (including U.S. citizens) coming from another Schengen country (except for Serbia) and holding appropriate visas (not required for U.S.). There are some nuances in making this work, and we can help you navigate through it. In addition, there is an alternate mechanism to get in directly for if you have a business purpose.
  • Serbia – U.S. citizens can enter for business or tourism.
  • Slovenia – Open to U.S. passengers with quarantine up to 14 days or length of stay. Travelers from epidemiologically safe (green list) countries can enter without restrictions.
  • Spain – U.S. citizens can travel to Spain directly with an invitation letter from a Spanish company, or via a second stop entering from a Schengen country.
  • Sweden – U.S. passengers allowed if arriving from Schengen country. Quarantine not required.
  • Switzerland – U.S. passengers allowed for business if arriving from Schengen country. Business purpose letter required. 10-day quarantine required if have been to any of these countries (including U.S.) at any time within the last 14 days before entering Switzerland.
  • Turkey – Open on the Mediterranean to Private/Business flights (including leisure) regardless the country of registration and/or nationality of passenger. No quarantine as long as passengers are symptom-free. Our Universal Aviation office in Turkey can provide assistance. We have a reliable rapid PCR testing provider at Istanbul, Dalaman and Antalya for about $20 USD per test if you need to route to another country.
  • Ukraine – Reintroducing restrictions. Effective 29 Aug 20 until at least 28 Sep 20 Ukraine will bar foreign nationals (non-residents) from entering.
  • UK – Accessible, but quarantine for length of stay (e.g., 1 day) for many nationals.

Conclusion

Europe remains accessible to third-country nationals via corridor countries and for operators with a valid business purpose. The EC’s published “safe list” is merely a recommendation and not law binding. Operators considering travel to Europe should consult with a trip support company, as the restrictions and regulations can and do change at a moment’s notice.


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