The surprising overseas rules that could catch you out on your next getaway

·4-min read
lanzarote covid sign - Getty
lanzarote covid sign - Getty

By now we are all aware of the many rules and regulations you need to follow before daring to head abroad. From filling out passenger locator forms to getting to grips with the UK’s overbearing testing requirements, the week leading up to a holiday is now filled with an anxiety-inducing checklist.

However, what sometimes slips through the cracks are those idiosyncratic rules in certain destinations, which many may not have been aware of until they are suddenly being confronted with them on the ground. These are measures that may have recently been enacted or have simply not filtered through amid the sea of other travel-related admin.

Here, we round up five surprising rules to be aware of before booking a holiday this autumn.

France will soon require children aged 12 and over to show a health pass

France already requires everyone over the age of 18 to show a health pass to gain entry to the likes of restaurants, museums and theme parks. This pass shows proof of full vaccination, a negative test taken within the previous 72 hours or evidence of recent recovery from Covid. However, from September 30, this rule will be extended to children aged over 12 and two months.

This could disrupt the plans of UK families who are thinking about a trip to France over the October half-term, since the vast majority of children in the UK aged between 12 and 18 will not be fully vaccinated. As such, they will need to have sufficient proof of a negative Covid test taken within the previous 72 hours when entering relevant venues in France.

The test must be taken in France, so you cannot use the pre-travel test (adolescents who aren’t fully vaccinated must take a test before travelling to France) for entry to venues. For a longer trip, this would mean forking out for a test every three days. As France no longer provides these free of charge, this could prove costly – antigen tests cost from €29 (£24.73) and PCRs from €49 (£41.78).

france pass sanitaire - Getty
france pass sanitaire - Getty

Switzerland does not recognise the AstraZeneca vaccine for its Covid pass

Yet another punitive measure has emerged for the millions of Britons who received the AstraZeneca vaccine after Switzerland announced that it would not recognise the jab for its new Covid pass. The pass is required for all indoor activities.

A representative for Switzerland Tourism told Telegraph Travel: “Like in many other countries in Europe, the Swiss government announced that Covid certificates will be mandatory in order to enter restaurants [and other venues] as of September 13. Currently, persons who have received the AZ vaccine are not eligible to get a Swiss/EU Covid Certificate.”

However, they confirmed that the Swiss government is working on a solution, which it expects could be announced before the end of the month.

For those wanting to eat out, visit cultural venues and generally enjoy their holiday, rapid antigen testing every other day is the way to go for now. This is free in Switzerland for international visitors until the end of the month. No certificate is required for outdoor dining.

Simple cloth masks won’t cut it in certain countries

While in the UK, homemade or flimsy cotton face coverings, or indeed none at all, are accepted everywhere, some European countries demand that high quality N95/FFP2 masks are donned in certain settings. In Austria, for example, these medical-grade masks are required on public transport, in cable cars, and in essential businesses such as supermarkets, chemists and banks. Those who are not vaccinated must also wear them in all shops and museums.

Some children are effectively banned from travelling to Malta

Most countries who are accepting visitors have specified different rules for unvaccinated children, usually requiring them to take Covid tests. However, green-listed Malta, which is exclusively welcoming fully vaccinated adults, has only made this concession for children aged five to 11. Those between 12 and 18 must be fully vaccinated to enter, which essentially bans UK adolescents from the island as they have not had the chance to receive the jab yet. Portugal also looked set to impose this rule, though has since backed down and will accept evidence of a negative PCR or antigen test.

malta - Getty
malta - Getty

Some countries still have restrictions and might re-introduce them at any time

Before travelling abroad, it is worth remembering that every country has experienced the pandemic differently and that citizens may have a different outlook on rules and restrictions even if they have eased. In Spain, for example, mask-wearing is taken much more seriously than the UK and the majority of people continue to wear face coverings even when outside in larger cities.

Similarly, capacity measures might mean that formerly bustling tapas joints aren’t quite how you remembered them pre-pandemic and reservations are very much advised to avoid disappointment. In short, be prepared for your holiday to feel a little different.

As we move into the colder months, countries could also reimpose restrictions at any time and with little fanfare, so always check before you travel. Earlier this year, Spain, France and Germany had localised restrictions with night time curfews in certain regions, so you need to look beyond a national level.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting