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Updated 19 July 2021

The origin of the travel bubble

The advent of coronavirus has brought forth an unprecedented and multifaceted crisis, as the world witnessed global shares taking a hit, unemployment rate skyrocketing and oil prices come crashing down. As the threat of a global recession looms, it’s no exaggeration to say that the world economy in general is currently in dire straits.



With passengers canceling their holiday and business trips due to airlines being grounded and borders being closed, the travel industry is among the hardest hit by the onslaught and is now facing seemingly insurmountable odds.

Tourism makes for a considerable percentage of any country’s yearly GDP, and to lose such a significant chunk of the pie has proven to be quite damaging. Thus, governments worldwide are struggling to find ingenious ways to somewhat restore the inbound cash flow streams associated with international tourism and travel, which in turn brings us to a little something called ‘travel bubble.’

What’s a travel bubble?

Angla windmills in Leishi Parish, Estonia.

Travel bubbles, also known as travel corridors and corona corridors, are essentially an exclusive partnership between two or more countries that have demonstrated considerable success in containing and combating the COVID-19 pandemic within their respective borders.

These countries then go on to re-establish connections between them by opening up borders and allowing people to travel freely within the zone without having the need to undergo on-arrival quarantine.

What are the existing travel bubbles?

Note: not an exhaustive list. This section will continually be updated as more travel bubbles are confirmed.

When the world became aware of this initiative, many began to follow suit, or at the very least, seriously considering the possibility of forming a bloc with their neighboring countries. Most countries generally view the travel bubble concept as something that would entail business recoveries across multiple sectors.

In addition to the list of existing travel bubbles, we’ve also provided dedicated pages for Covid Test For Travel In 2021 (All Countries) and Quarantine Guidelines For Travel In 2021 (All Countries).

Old Nyhavn port Copenhagen, Denmark.

Europe

EU – Third Countries

The EU has published a list of third countries to which their residents may enter the Schengen Area. However, the list is merely a recommendation to which member states are entitled to accept or reject. As of 1 July, the list of third countries includes the following:

  • Albania
  • Armenia
  • Australia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • Montenegro
  • New Zealand
  • Qatar
  • Republic of Moldova
  • Republic of North Macedonia
  • Rwanda
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Thailand
  • United States of America
  • China, subject to confirmation of reciprocity

Germany – Exempted Countries

Germany has issued an official list of exempted countries and has established travel corridors with the following countries and territories. 

  • Albania
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan 
  • Australia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brunei Darussalam 
  • Canada
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Jordan 
  • Kosovo 
  • Lebanon
  • Macao
  • Moldova 
  • Montegengro
  • New Zealand
  • North Macedonia
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Ukraine
  • USA

In addition, the list is to be expanded to include China (as soon as the possibility of mutual entry is confirmed).

Additionally, German and EU citizens, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland and the members of their immediate family (spouse, unmarried minor children, parents of minors) are exempted from the travel restrictions. 

Spain – Exempted Countries

Spain allows entry for the following European countries: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.

Additionally, residents of the following third countries are also allowed entry: Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong (SAR China), Japan, Jordan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Macao (SAR China), Moldova, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, United States of America.

Fully vaccinated travellers who received the last dose of a vaccine at least 14 days before departure may also be exempt from the ban.

All travellers need to obtain the Health Control Form (FCS) to enter Spain. This new entry requirement has been introduced by the Government of Spain due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can apply here.

All passengers arriving in Spain must have a medical certificate with a

  • Negative COVID-19 antigen (no more than 48 hours before) or NAAT test (no more than 72 hours before). The certificate must be in English, French, German, Spanish or accompanied by a certified Spanish translation or
  • Vaccination certificate, the last dose of the approved vaccine must have been received at least 14 days before travel or
  • COVID-19 recovery certificate issued at least 11 days after the positive result. Sample must have been taken no more than 180 days before arrival

 

Asia – Pacific

Australia – New Zealand (Trans-Tasman Bubble)

The Australia – New Zealand travel bubble has once again resumed in ACT, Queensland, South Australia, Northern Territory, Tasmania, Western Australia. 

Quarantine-free travel from NSW remains paused. Managed return flights from NSW begin on Tuesday 13 July. These travellers have to go into MIQ.

Quarantine-free travel from Victoria to New Zealand is paused.

 

Australia – Singapore

According to the Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan, the planned travel bubble between Singapore and Australia is more likely to happen towards the end of 2021. Among others, the planned travel bubble will involve quarantine-free travel by way of mutual recognition of health and vaccination certificates.

Cook Islands – New Zealand 

A two-way, quarantine-free travel is available from the Cook Islands to Auckland.

To be eligible to book ‘Quarantine-free’ flights – you must:

  • have not been overseas outside of New Zealand, Australia and the Cook Islands in the past 14 days
  • have no reasonable grounds, as determined by a suitably qualified health practitioner, to suspect they may have COVID-19. This may include: having had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days, having any COVID-19 symptoms, and waiting for a COVID-19 test result.

Niue – New Zealand

One way, quarantine-free travel is available from Niue to Auckland.

To be eligible to book ‘Quarantine-free’ flights – you must:

  • You have not been overseas outside of Niue and New Zealand in the past 14 days.
  • You have not had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case within the past 14 days.
  • You must maintain 2 meters physical distance (as much as possible) from anyone in the New Zealand airport who did not arrive from Niue.
  • You must wear a face-covering while in the airport in New Zealand.
  • There are no reasonable grounds, as determined by a suitably qualified health practitioner, to suspect you may have COVID-19. This may include:
    • having had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days
    • having any COVID-19 symptoms, and
    • waiting for a COVID-19 test result.

Singapore – Countries Under the Green/Fast Lane arrangement and Air Travel Pass

The government of Singapore is allowing entry for the following purposes of travel:

Short term business visits

Travellers who need to only make a short-term business trip to Singapore may use the lanes below. Only travellers with travel history to the listed countries/regions before arriving in Singapore may use the respective lanes.

Air Travel Pass

  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Mainland China (excluding Guangdong province)
  • New Zealand

Reciprocal Green Lane

  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Mainland China (Only for travellers from Chongqing, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Tianjin and Zhejiang)

 

Short Term Social Visits/Tourists

Short-term visits by foreigners are currently only allowed for countries/regions with a low risk of COVID-19 importation. Foreign travellers who are short-term travellers with travel history in the past 21 days to the following countries/regions only, may use the lanes below.

Air Travel Pass

  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Mainland China (excluding Guangdong province)
  • New Zealand

Air Travel Bubble

  • Hong Kong (launch deferred, click here for more details)

Following an increase in COVID transmissions, new entry approvals have been reduced or halted until further notice for all long-term pass holders with travel history to higher-risk countries/regions (i.e. all countries/regions, except Australia, Brunei, Hong Kong, Macao, Mainland China, New Zealand and Taiwan).

South Korea – Saipan

The governments of South Korea and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands have officially established a travel bubble between the two nations aimed at boosting tourism to the Pacific territory.

The travel bubble will allow fully vaccinated nationals, foreign nationals and permanent residents to travel between the two countries provided they have received their final COVID-19 vaccine dose at least two weeks prior to departure and present a negative COVID-19 test acquired within the previous three days. The vaccine must also be approved by both governments, with Pfizer, Moderna, Janssen and AstraZeneca all acceptable.

The flights, serving group tours between Seoul Incheon International Airport and Saipan International Airport, must be direct and conducted by their respective national carriers.

Vanuatu – New Caledonia (Tamtam Bubble)

Vanuatu’s prime minister has announced the creation of a safe travel bubble between Vanuatu and New Caledonia. From April, the so-called “Tamtam Bubble” will allow easier travel between the Covid-free Melanesian neighbors. Travel will be restricted to Vanuatu’s main island of Efate.

However, the bubble is currently on hold as reports of new coronavirus cases emerged in both countries.

The Caribbeans

Aruba – All other countries 

The government of Aruba has announced the reopening of its borders to travellers from all countries and regions. Furthermore, the classification of US “hot spot” states will no longer be in effect, as such, as part of the required online Embarkation/Disembarkation card process, residents of all 50 states will now have the option to take a PCR test upon arrival at the airport in Aruba as well as the option to provide a certified negative test result prior to travel to Aruba.

Saint Lucia – 11 Caribbean countries

The Government of Saint Lucia has identified and recognized the following countries as designated travel bubbles due to their low-risk transmission of COVID-19. Antigua & Barbuda, Anguilla, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Turks and Caicos Islands.

All travelers who are not arriving from the designated travel bubble must have a verified reservation at a COVID-19 certified accommodation provider or in a State Quarantine Facility or must have received approval for home quarantine.

Saint Lucia has recently eased some on-island protocols for vaccinated travelers; including being able to book rental cars and dine at more local restaurants.

Visitors who, immediately before arriving in St. Lucia, were in a Bubble Country for at least 21 days will be exempt from quarantine; however, they must have a negative result from a PCR test taken no more than 5 days before arriving in  Saint Lucia and are subject to mandatory screening on arrival.

The Middle East and North Africa

The UAE – Bahrain, Greece, Seychelles, Serbia

The UAE has set up vaccine bubbles with Bahrain, Greece, Seychelles, and Serbia. The safe travel bubbles are meant for travellers who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The arrangement signifies the mutual recognition of vaccination certificates issued by their respective health authorities and will allow travellers to enjoy trips without managed isolation.

The UAE – the Maldives

A possible travel bubble between the UAE and the Maldives is purportedly in the works. Although no official dates have been revealed, it is hoped that the travel corridor will be established in early June. Fully vaccinated travellers should be able to take advantage of the arrangement once it’s been officially implemented. 

The UAE – Italy

The UAE and Italian authorities have decided to safely re-open the bilateral travel corridor for all categories of passengers between the two countries and end the quarantine requirement.

With the establishment of the travel bubble, travellers coming from the UAE to the Italian airports at Rome/Fiumicino, Venice/Marco Polo and Milan/Malpensa will be allowed to travel to Italy for all purposes.

 

Travel bubbles and the future of travel

Although travel bubbles are far from being the ideal solution, it is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. As more and more of these sky bridges pop up, we can be sure that countries worldwide are doing a great job in flattening the curve.

For now, these travel bubbles have proven to be a boon for those looking to get their economies back on track. For us travellers, let us take comfort in the fact that travel bubbles are a telltale sign that we may soon be able to once again explore the world.