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How to Transit in Europe During COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

Many Americans and international travelers are wondering if they can transit, transfer, or connect in Europe during the COVID-19 travel restrictions. The answer is: yes, you can transit on connecting flights in Europe, even if you don’t meet the restrictions of your intermediate country.

It may sound like a stressful idea, but it’s much simpler than you would think. I would know – I transited through Germany when Americans were still not allowed into Europe.

Transit via connecting flights in Europe opens the door to destinations all around the world, even during COVID-19: Croatia, Dubai, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, and much of Africa including the Maldives, Namibia, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Egypt, etc.

We already know traveling can be done safely, so let’s go explore the world responsibly!

How Does Transiting in Europe Work With All These COVID Travel Restrictions?

Most countries in Europe divide their airports into different zones: Schengen/Domestic and Non-Schengen/International. To go between either of these zones, you must pass through customs.

However, if you’re staying in the same zone, you won’t have to pass through customs. For example, you could fly from Detroit (DTW) to Cairo (CAI) with a flight connection in Paris (CDG). Since you won’t have to pass customs in CDG, the travel restrictions in France won’t apply to you.

Note that some countries, such as the UK, require Covid-19 testing or vaccination even for transiting passengers.

A Quick Word of Advice on Connecting Flights

I highly recommend avoiding booking two different tickets with connecting flights in Europe during COVID-19. Often times, travel websites will mix and match flights to give you cheaper options. That’s not a good idea in this case. Here are the problems:

  • Your first airline may not allow you to board the first flight, since they cannot necessarily guarantee your departure from whichever country your first flight goes to.
  • If you have any checked baggage, you will have to arrange for both airlines to transfer the baggage for you at your connecting airport. Otherwise you have to go through customs to retrieve and re-check your bag in – which means you need to meet the travel restrictions of your connecting country.

For this reason, I highly recommend that you purchase one ticket with both connecting flights on it. This is especially valid if you plan on checking in luggage. The best way to do this is to buy your ticket directly from the airline’s website.

My experience with a flight connection in Munich (MUC). Skip to 0:51 for details on transiting there.

Transiting With Checked Luggage

Here’s what the Paris (CDG) airport website says about connecting/transiting passengers with luggage. This applies to almost every airport in Europe:

Both Flights on One Reservation with a Connection in Paris (CDG)

“Your checked baggage will, in accordance with your airline, continue to your final destination.

Passengers are invited to stay in the international zone and follow the signs indicating the terminal of departure for their next flight. They must possess all documents necessary for entry into their final destination (reason for entry, RT-PCR test if required by the country, taken before the first flight to Paris/CDG, etc.).”

Two Different Reservations Connecting in Paris (CDG)

“These passengers must present the documents required to enter French territory so that they can pick up their checked bags and check them back in for their next flight.

If this isn’t the case, they must stay in the international zone and contact both airlines in charge of the checked baggage without delay. They must possess all documents required to enter the country of their final destination (reason for entry, RT-PCR test if required by the country, taken before the flight to Paris/CDG, etc.)”

Note that if you do not have a checked bag, this doesn’t apply to you. You would be able to stay in the international transit zone.

Don't let your bag get stranded on your connecting flights in Europe!
Connecting in Europe during COVID-19? Just buy one ticket, and you’ll have no worries.

Restrictions on Transiting

Most countries require the duration of your transit to last less than 24 hours. Some countries, such as Croatia and Slovenia, require your transit to last less than 12 hours. During this time, you cannot leave the international transit zone of the airport.

To learn more about traveling to Europe, read this comprehensive Europe Covid-19 travel restrictions guide.

Wow, That Was Easy!

Hopefully, your experience will be as shockingly easy as mine was. If this is your first time flying since COVID-19 started, you’ll marvel at how safe flying has become. Enjoy your travels and as always, feel free to send me any additional questions you may have.

Keep Exploring the World


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