American tourists hoping to visit Sweden this fall will face disappointment following a Swedish government decision to remove the U.S. exemption to its Covid-19 travel ban.
As of September 6, the U.S. will be removed from Sweden’s list of “safe countries.” This means that permanent residents of the U.S. will not be permitted to enter Sweden for non-urgent reasons, regardless of vaccination status.
The news comes as the Swedish government extended the country’s entry ban for non-EU/EEA residents until October 31. For several months, the U.S. had been one of a group of countries exempted from the entry ban. But the U.S. has now been removed from the exemption list together with Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and North Macedonia.
Other exemptions to the entry ban remain valid, so U.S. residents will still be able to travel to Sweden to start a course of study, for certain business or urgent family reasons, or if they hold citizenship of an EU country or a Swedish residence permit.
Driven by an EU recommendation
Sweden made the move following the EU’s decision to remove the U.S. from its Covid-19 safe travel list. The U.S. has experienced a steep rise in Covid-19 cases driven by the spread of the more contagious Delta variant.
In addition to the epidemiological situation, EU decision-makers said the decision was based on “the reliability of the available information and data sources.” It also took into account the fact that the U.S. still prevents non-essential travel from Europe.
Although the EU decision was a recommendation and not binding to its members, it’s no surprise that Sweden has chosen to implement it given the situation across the Atlantic.
Can I travel to Sweden if I’m vaccinated?
At present, Sweden does not implement any exemptions based on vaccination status for non-EU/EEA travelers. However, the government confirmed it is evaluating the possibility to exempt more travelers based on vaccination status in the future.
Swedish interior minister Mikael Damberg said they want to implement such an arrangement for countries with which Sweden has close relations such as the U.K. and the U.S., “even though the United States is more complex and many states have very different rules.”
Despite this promising news, the government did not give any estimated date as to when vaccinated travelers from the U.S. may be able to visit Sweden.