Do I need a booster to travel? Rules explained- and countries that require a third vaccine for entry

Some popular holiday destinations have set an expiration date for the validity of COVID vaccine certification

Recent changes to testing and self-isolation isolation rules for UK arrivals has sparked a boost in bookings for holidays abroad.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced last month that fully vaccinated arrivals in England will no longer have to take a Covid-19 test, while the requirement for those not in that category to self-isolate will be dropped.

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Some countries have set an expiry date for the validity of vaccine certificates (Photo: Getty Images)

Mr Shapps hailed the changes as a return to the “good old days” of international travel, but warned booster doses are likely to become a requirement of foreign trips in the future.

Do I need a booster jab to travel abroad?

Under current rules, a booster vaccine is not an essential requirement to travel abroad.

Anyone who has had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine is classed as being fully vaccinated in the UK at the moment, but it is expected that rules will soon change to include a booster.

Mr Shapps said: “Increasingly countries elsewhere are requiring the booster for you to go there.

“So an important message for people, particularly perhaps younger people who maybe think ‘Oh, I haven’t bothered with the booster, I’ve been jabbed but I haven’t bothered with the booster’, get the booster because this summer.

“From talking to my counterparts around the world, in Europe and elsewhere, if you want to travel, say go to Spain on holiday this summer, they are almost certainly going to require that booster jab.

“So you want to get that.”

Which countries require a third vaccine dose for entry?

Many popular holiday destinations have already tightened their rules around Covid-19 vaccinations.

In some locations a booster is now a requirement for entry, while in others an expiration date on current vaccine passports has been set, meaning travellers risk being now being allowed in if their last dose falls outside of the required time period.

If you are planning a trip abroad, these are the destinations where stricter vaccination rules already apply.

Spain

From 1 February, Spain is only allowing UK visitors to enter if they can prove they were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 within the last 270 days.

This means that anyone who received their second dose more than nine months ago must have had a booster jab to be allowed entry, and this must have been given more than 14 days before travel.

Spain’s official travel website Safe Spain states: “From February 1, 2022, in order to travel to Spain with a vaccination certificate, the certificate must have been issued by the competent authorities of the country of origin at least 14 days after the date of administration of the last dose of the full course of vaccination, as long as the final dose of that course of vaccination was no more than 270 days ago.”

France

UK tourists who have had two doses of a booster vaccine can travel to France.

However, since 15 January, all travellers who have been fully vaccinated for more than seven months are now required to show proof of a booster dose to enter.

Italy

From 1 February, all visitors arriving in Italy from the UK must have had their last vaccine dose within 180 days for the vaccination certificate to be considered valid.

This rule does not stop tourists from entering the country, but it can restrict venues that people are eligible to visit.

Switzerland

From 31 January, Switzerland will only accept vaccination certificates that show the last vaccine dose was given within 270 days.

This means that UK tourists need to have received their booster within the last nine months to be valid.

Again, this rule does not currently impact tourists entering Switzerland, as UK travellers who are not vaccinated can enter with a negative PCR (not older than 72 hours) or lateral flow test (not older than 24 hours).

Austria

Different vaccine validity rules apply in Austria. Two dose vaccinations are only valid for 180 days (or 210 days for those under 18), while a booster dose is valid for 270 days.

For the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you must show that you received a booster no more than 270 days before arrival.

If you received a booster more than 120 days after being fully immunised (90 days from 1 February 2022), this must not have been more than 270 days before arrival.

Belgium

From 1 March, vaccine certificates in Belgium will only be valid for 150 days after a second vaccine dose, meaning people have five months to get a booster.

The Belgian Consultation Committee said: “This means that anyone who was vaccinated with one dose (only Janssen) or two doses (Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/Oxford) before October 1 must have had a booster shot before March 1.

"Otherwise, the validity of the vaccination certificate will expire."

This does not affect entry into Belgium from the UK, but could limit where travellers can visit on arrival.

Greece

Greek health minister Thanos Plevirs announced on 5 January that vaccine certificates in the country would only be valid for seven months after the last dose of a vaccine.

This means that anyone who has not had a booster within this time frame is considered unvaccinated.

This rule does not currently impact tourists entering Greece, as UK travellers only need to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test to be allowed in.

But this could impact places tourists can visit during their stay if their vaccine certificate has expired.

This article originally appeared on our sister site, NationalWorld.