Sweden considers lifting entry ban for vaccinated travellers from UK and US

The Swedish government has said it may exempt vaccinated tourists from certain non-EU countries from its Covid entry restrictions.

Sweden considers lifting entry ban for vaccinated travellers from UK and US
File photo of a nurse administering the Covid-19 vaccine in the UK. Photo: Steve Parsons/AP

The EU recommends that member states allow vaccinated travellers (at least those who have received a Covid vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency, EMA) to travel to their countries from outside the EU, but Sweden has so far not followed that principle.

When asked by The Local why not, a press spokesperson for Interior Minister Mikael Damberg told us on Wednesday: “I’ll get back to you as soon as we have the opportunity.”

But on Thursday, as the government re-added six countries including the US to its non-EU/EEA entry ban, it said it was “exploring the possibility” of exempting “fully vaccinated residents of certain third countries”, but offered no indication as to when that might happen.

“There are a number of countries with which Sweden has close relations. There, the government will now investigate the possibility of exempting fully vaccinated residents in certain third countries,” Interior Minister Mikael Damberg told the TT news agency on Thursday morning.

“I am thinking primarily of the United Kingdom, but also the United States, even though the United States is more complex and many states have very different rules,” he said.

There was no more information immediately available, but the following Covid vaccines are EMA-authorised: Spikevax (Moderna), Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech), Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) and Johnson & Johnson (also called Janssen). Covishield, India’s version of the AstraZeneca vaccine, has not been approved by the EMA. It is up to individual EU states to decide whether or not to allow entry for people vaccinated with jabs enrolled on the WHO’s Emergency Use Listing, which Covishield is, but Damberg did not say anything about it.

The Swedish government on Thursday reimposed entry restrictions on travellers from the US, Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and Northern Macedonia, based on an EU recommendation and effective from September 6th. These countries were previously exempt.

The entry ban since before also applies to the UK, which is no longer an EU country, as well as many other non-EU countries.

That doesn’t necessarily mean all travel from those countries is banned, as travellers may fall into another exempted category, such as travelling for urgent family reasons or if they have EU citizenship or a Swedish residence permit or residence status.

Sweden already allows vaccinated travellers with an EU Digital Covid Certificate to enter the country from another EU member state, and it currently has no restrictions at all in place for people travelling from the Nordics (Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland). That goes for everyone travelling via one of those countries, regardless of their original point of departure.

Member comments

  1. I’d like to see my Swedish family this year. We’re vaccinated. I don’t see why they don’t lift the US ban, especially if we’re tested before we arrive.

  2. This story contradicts the other lead story on the Local . Here it states that americans can now enter Sweden and in the other it states Sweden is restricting or banning Americans and six other countries because of Covid . Make your minds up please .

  3. As I understand it, two jabs will keep you out of hospital. But you can still spread it.

    The experts told us very early on, that you can have the virus for up to 14 days before it will show as a positive test.
    So that suggests all travelers should be officially quarantined for 14 days.

    This virus has been consistently under estimated. That’s why I say ‘officially quarantined’
    Meaning locked up, run by the army, ankle bracelets, what ever it takes.
    If you have to travel at this time, accept that it’s only 14 days of your lifetime.
    It has been proven that people can’t be trusted to voluntarily quarantine.

    The experts also told us the virus travels in vapour from our breathing.
    Eventually this lands on a surface, where it can live for some time.
    They also told us it is killed by soapy water.

    We have watched the Delta variant since Dec 2020, as it swept across the world.

    So, I assume ALL international arrivals and ALL their baggage, walk into a sealed tunnel and mist of soapy water.
    They walk on a saturated carpet, do “Customs” etc. Then same all the way to the bus that takes them to quarantine.
    Then same story there, all the way to their room. The bus of course is cleaned after every use.

    It seems to me, Governments didn’t listen to the experts and used an amateur slapdash approach.
    Recently a quarantine hotel informed us, that the infection was carried on a draft of air from one room to another.
    They made it sound like ‘Breaking News’ – sounds like CYA to me.

    I know it’s expensive to set up a really good system, but top quality is often cheaper in the long run.
    All Governments are throwing money at the virus like there is no tomorrow.
    I think a serious effort at the border would be money well spent.

    UK and other island nations have an advantage.
    At this stage I’ve seen no suggestion that the virus blew in on the wind. It arrives on ships and planes.
    With good border procedures they wouldn’t need to have got into this circus of contact tracing, to the extent they have.
    Time to get water tight.

    Faced with an over flowing bath, the average 10 year old, wouldn’t put pots and pans around to catch the water.
    They would turn off the tap!

    I think we would all like to know how thorough is your country’s border protection? Please tell us.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


How many travellers are turned away at European borders because of 90 day limit?

Many Non-EU nationals, including Britons since Brexit, need to make sure they don't go over the 90-day rule in the EU/Schengen area. But how many people are turned away at European borders because they overstayed?

How many travellers are turned away at European borders because of 90 day limit?

The 2021 Ironman 70.3 World Champion, UK’s Lucy Charles-Barclay, may not be able to participate in the next race of the season, on the 21st of May in Kraichgau, Germany.

The reason? She has already used 88 of the 90 days she could spend in the Schengen area over a 180-day period, the athlete said on Instagram.

Non-EU travellers, who since Brexit include Brits, have to be aware of the 90-day rule when it comes to visiting the EU and Schengen area.

People can travel without border checks within countries that have signed up to the Schengen Agreement. These include EU members except for Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania. Non-EU members Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are also part of the Schengen zone.

Non-EU passport holders who are allowed to visit Schengen countries without a visa can stay for maximum 90 days in any 180-day period, regardless of the number of states they go to. This means frequent visitors to EU countries, such as those who own second homes there, need to keep a careful check on how many days they have built up.

READ ALSO: How does the 90-day rule work for the EU/Schengen area?

The 90-day limit is meant for visits only, so people who intend to become residents have to follow different procedures.

Anyone who wants to stay longer than 90 days in every 180 must apply for a national visa for the country they intend to visit.

Passengers wait under panels at Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport, in the northeastern outskirts of Paris, on March 4, 2023.(Photo by Geoffroy Van der Hasselt / AFP)

If overstayers are caught they will most likely be ordered to leave, fined or even banned from the Schengen zone for a period of time. Since Brexit, these rules also apply to UK citizens, to the frustration of many second home owners in France and Spain.

The European Union plans to introduce a new border system, the EU entry/exit system, that will require biometric data, including facial images and fingerprints of all passengers entering the EU, helping authorities to systematically identify overstayers.

Travellers refused entry over the 90-day rule

Overall, some 141,060 non-EU citizens were refused entry into the EU in 2022 for various reasons, which are explained below.

Overall the largest number of refusals were reported by Poland (23,330), Hungary (15,780), Croatia (11,800) and Ireland (9,240). Ukrainian citizens accounted for the largest number of refusals, as has been the case in recent years.

According to the latest data published by the EU statistical office Eurostat, in 2022 almost 20,000 people (19,290) were refused entry at the Schengen area’s external borders because they has already exceeded the 90-day limit on previous trips.

This figure was a slight rise on the 2019 figure of 17,695. In the 2020 and 2021 the number dropped to around 10,000 travellers refused entry for having passed the 90-day limit, but the drop can be explained by fewer people on the move due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Of the 20,000 refused entry in 2022 over the 90-day rule, more than two thirds were stopped at the Polish (7,570) and Hungarian (5,475) borders. Again most of them were from Ukraine as was the case in 2019. It is not clear whether these were recorded before Poland and Hungary opened their borders to the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian’s fleeing the Russian invasion in late February.

Among the countries covered by The Local, Italy refused entry to 695 non-EU citizens because of the 90/180 Schengen rule; Germany denied entry to 465; Spain 345; Switzerland 175; France 170; Austria 125; Sweden 40; and Denmark 30, according to data published recently.

Despite the confusion for Britons after Brexit it appears most travellers are at least aware of the 90 day rule given the small number that were refused entry.

Only 195 British citizens were refused entry into European countries in 2022 because of the 90 day rule. Of these, Switzerland rejected 25; Sweden, Austria and Denmark 10 each; France 5. The figure for Spain read “zero”, suggesting Spanish authorities had not made the data available.

For US citizens the number of travellers turned away at the EU borders last year for having already passed the 90-day limit was 90. The numbers were even smaller for Canadians and Australians but this will be likely linked not only to a low number of frequent travellers to the EU from distant countries. In other words if they have passed the 90 day limit they are unlikely to return within the 180 day period.

As for travellers from India, the 90-day rule does not apply to them because they need a visa to enter the Schengen area.

Other reasons non-EU citizens are turned away

Apart from the 90 day rule there are other reasons why non-EU travellers will be turned away at Europe’s borders ranging from whether they are considered to be public threat or an alert has been issued about them to the fact their passport may be out of date or they have no valid visa or residency permit. Officially non-EU visitors could be turned away if they are not considered to have the means to pay for their trip, however the figures show only 10 people were refused entry (all to the Netherlands) for this reason.

READ ALSO: Are UK tourists in Spain really being asked to prove €100 a day?

Whilst most non-EU travellers have been aware of the rules around valid travel documents it appears many Britons have been caught out since Brexit.

Visitors entering Schengen countries must have a document issued in the ten years before the date of entry and valid until three months after the planned departure date. Since Brexit many British travellers, unaware their passports were invalid, have been turned away at airports and ports.

France for example denied access to its territory – and the Schengen area – to 105 UK citizens because they held no valid travel document.

The total for British citizens turned away from European countries because of invalid travel documents was 335, with 40 denied access to Italy and 30 to Switzerland.

In total 1,305 UK nationals were denied entry at the European external borders in 2022 because of reasons ranging from overstays to no valid visa or document, insufficient means of subsistence or being considered a public threat.

France – which has the largest number of arrivals from the UK due to its proximity – recorded the largest number (440), followed by Switzerland (150), Sweden (75), Italy (60), Germany (45), Denmark (40), Austria (15). Data for Norway was not available at the time of publishing.

Sweden, where authorities have come under pressure over their treatment of British residents after Brexit, refused entry to 40 Britons in 2022 who did not have a valid visa or residence permit.

When it comes to other nationalities, some 1,020 American citizens were turned away at Europe’s borders for various reasons in 2022 and the figure for Indian nationals was 2,045. Just 140 Canadians were turned away and 50 Australian nationals.