When the EU shut its borders on March 17, many bi-national couples found themselves instantly cut-off from seeing each other, suddenly separated by travel bans. While there have been exceptions in place for married spouses, lovers who are not yet married have been forced apart.
As weeks and months went on and the entry ban on EU’s external borders stayed in place, many fiancés, boyfriends and girlfriends started petitions to allow reunification, citing hashtags like:
#LoveIsNotTourism and #LoveIsEssential
Starting in June, some EU nations answered the call for love and started to make exceptions to the ban, finally allowing partners to reunite on European soil.
As of August 11th, there are now 9 countries in the European Union making exceptions to reunite un-married couples, even if one half is from a high-risk (and currently banned) country like the USA. France and Germany are the two newest entries, just making allowances within the last week.
Here are the EU nations currently allowing lovers to reunite, despite the travel bans:
- Czech Republic
Now that these nations have started making exceptions, couples want to know exactly HOW they can reunite with each other, what rules they need to follow, and what documents they might need to prove their relationship.
Below we have the detailed entry requirements for un-married partners into each nation to help reunite couples as quickly and easily as possible.
Please Note: For the unmarried couple exemption into all of the below nations, all of the ‘pre-covid’ entry and visa requirements are still in full effect. For the purpose of not repeating ourselves and keeping the below advice shortened to what you need in regard to gaining entry as an unmarried couple, we are not going over the regular entry requirements that also need to be observed. (ie: valid Schengen visa, return ticket, valid passport, etc.)
#LoveIsNotTourism Rules and Information by Country:
Austria is now allowing the reunification for un-married couples, even if one partner is from the USA, however Americans will have to bring a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure AND quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.
Forbes recently published advice quoting the Austrian government saying “It is also possible to travel to Austria for reasons that are particularly worth considering in the family circle, for example a visit to the life partner or for special occasions such as weddings or baptisms.”
The official government decree in Section 3 (3) of the regulation on entry to Austria in connection with the containment of SARS-CoV-2, version dated August 11, 2020 states travelers not included in the approved countries for entry may still enter “for reasons that are particularly worthy of consideration in the family circle in individual cases”
Since the Austrian government has been vaguer than some other EU nations, as seems to be treating entry on a case by case basis, eager lovers looking to reunite should contact the Austrian consulate before traveling, and have lots of paperwork ready to show proof of their relationship.
The Austrian Campaign “Love Without Borders” recommends traveling with the following paperwork:
- Birth certificate
- Partnership certificate
- Copy of the family member’s passport
- Confirmation of registration or documents about common domicile
- suitable photographs
- written evidence that documents a civil partnership (e.g. mail correspondence)
- Registration certificates for the same vehicle
Anyone traveling into Austria from a high-risk area will need to bring a negative PCR test within 72 hours of depature AND quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.
More Austria Information:
The Swiss government recently made some changes to their entry requirements and are now allowing un-married, inter-national couples to reunite in Switzerland.
Switzerland will now recognize un-married couples who:
- Have minor children together
- Have proof they are in a real relationship with actual face-to-face meetings before the pandemic set in
If a Visa is required for entry, the traveling partner will need to apply through their nearest Swiss consulate or embassy either in person or by mail. If a Visa is not required, the traveling partner should travel with all documents and proof, as they will need to show it to the airlines and border guards throughout their journey.
Proof of Relationship for Entry:
- Written invitation from the person resident in Switzerland, including a copy of their Swiss passport of resident permit
- Confirmation of the partnership signed by both partners, by post or scanned and sent electronically
- Documents documenting that the partnership has existed for some time (e.g. correspondence via post or email, social media exchanges, telephone bills, air tickets, photos)
- Proof that the couple met at least once in person in Switzerland or abroad before the entry restrictions were introduced, e.g. copy of a passport containing entry and departure stamps.
The government of Switzerland also recommends for any traveling partner trying to reunite with a Swiss nation to ONLY fly directly into the country. Transits might be denied since they may not recognize the reunification allowances.
If a traveler is coming from a high-risk area, they will need to quarantine for 10 days. Testing is not mandatory, but could happen upon arrival.
More Switzerland Information:
France is one of the latest entries to join the Love Is Not Tourism movement, by announcing on August 8th they will be making exceptions for couples to reunite, calling it a ‘laissez-passer’ document.
The couple will need to contact their closest French consulate to assist with the application process, which can be done in person, or at least first initiated over email.
Proof of Relationship Documents
The couple will need to prove their relationship started before the covid closures, and that it is a “lasting sentimental relationship”. Some documents that were mentioned in the interview that couples should provide were:
- Statements from a joint bank account
- Common bills or invoices
- House or car rental or lease agreement in both names
- Proof of joint activities
- Proof of previous meetings including social media posts, photos, passport stamps, plane tickets, hotel reservations, etc.
- Proof of French residency for the French partner
That list is not exhaustive, but rather just a starting point. Since the French’s governments announcement of the laissez-passer application is fairly new, expect more official information and guidance to come.
If a traveler is coming from a high-risk area (like the USA), they will have to provide a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure. Arrivals, even with the test, may also be asked to quarantine upon arrival if border control detects any symptoms.
More France Information:
On July 20, the Czech Republic changed the entry rules for un-married couples to finally meet again in the country.
In section C.4.7 in the ‘Conditions of Entry into the Czech Republic’ made by the Ministry of the Interior, it now states entry is possible by a partner with a demonstrably lasting relationship (not marriage) with a Czech citizen and lives with him or her in demonstrably in the common household.
The Czech government states that the couple will need to apply for the exception with the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Applicants can email firstname.lastname@example.org to start the process.
Once approved electronically, any travelers coming from visa-free countries will be able to enter immediately. Partners who may be coming from a country that requires a visa to enter the Czech Republic will have to apply for it through the normal channels.
Some documents couples can expect to submit to prove the relationship include:
- A written declaration signed by both parties honoring the partnership
- Proof of common household (lease/rental agreement)
- Proof of financial history (joint bank accounts, shared loan)
- Proof of personal meetings (plane tickets, emails, photos, etc)
- A birth certificate of common children if any exist
Green-zone: If the entering person came from a green-zone country, in which they have been in for the past 14 days, and have not been in a red-zone country (with the exception of a transit up to 12 hours) they do NOT need to quarantine or be tested upon arrival.
Red-zone: If the entering person came from a red-zone country, where they have been in for the past 12 hours to 14 days, they must undergo a PCR test in the Czech territory and to submit the test result to the regional hygiene station within 72 hours from the entry – otherwise, a necessary quarantine measure of 14 days shall be ordered.
More Czech Information:
Denmark has led the way for allowing un-married partners to reunite in the EU. They were the first country to make exceptions specifically for fiancés, girlfriends, boyfriends, and ‘sweethearts’ starting in June.
The Danish Border Police site reads:
“You can enter Denmark if you are the spouse, live-in partner, fiancé, sweetheart, parent, stepparent, sibling, stepsibling, grandparent, stepgrandparent, child, stepchild, grandchild or stepgrandchild of a Danish national resident in or permanently staying in Denmark or of a foreigner resident in Denmark and otherwise have a legal right to enter Denmark.
It is a condition for sweethearts, fiancés, stepparents, sisters, brothers, stepsisters, stepbrothers, grandparents and stepgrandparents from countries other than EU Member States, Schengen countries and the United Kingdom that they can present proof of a negative COVID-19 test carried out no more than 72 hours before entry as well as fill out this form”
They do clearly clarify what a ‘sweetheart’ is, since that term could be very open for interpretation. A sweetheart by Danish definition is a relationship that has existed for more than three months and has had both partners regularly in contact in person. Relationships that have developed online or by long-distance do not qualify.
Denmark seems to have the easiest proof of relationship there is, not officially asking for much paperwork, although it could still be requested at any time. Couples should still have things like emails, photos, proof of previous trips together, etc handy just in case.
All arrivals under the couples/partner exception will have to bring a negative PCR test done with results no older than 72 hours before entry.
More Denmark Information:
On July 15, Norway started allowing lovers to reunite under new entry requirements.
Separated couples will need to fill out this form, which acts as a lawful declaration of their relationship, show proof that the relationship has existed for at least 9 months, and that they have met at least once before in person.
Proof of Relationship for Entry:
Other than filling out the form outlined above, Norway has not been clear if any other proof needs to be shown at the border, or beforehand. We recommend contacting the consulate to ask if any other steps (other than normal entry requirements like a valid visa if necessary, are needed before attempting to cross the border.
All arrivals under the couples/partner exception must quarantine for 10 days and provide the address and information of where the quarantine will take place.
More Norway Information:
As of July 27, the Netherlands has been allowing bi-national couples that have been kept apart from the EU travel ban to finally come back together.
There is a form to fill out, and a few documents to prove the relationship, but the Netherlands has made the process quite straightforward. They are also the only country we have seen that will allow minor children of the foreign traveler to come along.
The government states that one party of the couple must be a Dutch national, currently living in the Netherlands. The relationship has to have existed for at least 3 months, and you would have had to see each other in person at least 2 times, or, 1 time for an uninterrupted period of at least 4 weeks. The partner who is visiting must have a return ticket and abide by all normal entry rules.
Both partners must sign the ‘Declaration of relationship for COVID-19 entry ban exemption’ form. On this form you must indicate when your relationship started. You must also enclose proof of your relationship and time spent together.
Some proof of relationship documents can include:
- airline tickets
- previously used visas
- copies of passport stamps
- payment details showing that you spent time together somewhere (such as hotel reservations)
- statements by third parties that you are in a relationship (such as a statement from parents or friends)
The government of the Netherlands also clearly recommended any traveling partner to only fly directly into the country. Transits might be denied since they may not recognize the reunification allowances.
If the traveler has visa-free access, they only need to show the above documents to border control upon arrival.
Out of all the EU nations allowing lovers to reunite, the Netherlands has the clearest, most updated rules. Their FAQ page is a fantastic resource that goes over many in-depth questions without citing confusing immigration documents.
As of August 6th, Finland is now making exceptions for couples who have been split up due to Covid-19 travel bans. They will now recognize un-married couples and allow the foreign partner to come to Finland, as long as one partner is:
- A Finnish citizen living in Finland
- OR an EU/Schengen citizen living in Finland
- OR a third-country national living in Finland with a Finnish residence permit
As this announcement is still relatively new, exact procedures and documents have not been outlined yet. All prospective couples wishing to reunite in Finland are asked to contact the Finnish consulate/embassy and submit their request that way.
Germany is the latest country to allow un-married couples to reunite, despite the EU travel ban. As of August 10th, partners who have been separated can now be together again on German soil.
The border police site has been updated to reflect the new rules and currently states:
“The entry of unmarried partners from third countries who are not on the “positive list” is for short-term visits to the partner living in Germany (German, Union citizen or Third-country nationals with an existing right of residence in Germany) if the general entry requirements (passport and, if applicable, visa) are met, if it is a long-term, long-term relationship and both partners have previously met in Germany at least once or up to You recently had a previous joint residence abroad.”
Documents for the Proof of Relationship:
- an invitation from the person resident in Germany together with a copy of the inviting person’s identification documents,
- a declaration of both partners about the relationshipwith the contact details of both partners
- other evidence of previous personal meetings in a suitable form, in particular on the basis of passport stamps or travel documents / flight tickets or a joint residence abroad; alternatively, additional documentation through photos, social media, letter / mail correspondence would be possible.
The proof of relationship documents are to be carried by the traveler to be shown to airlines and border control throughout the journey.
Even though they have made exceptions for couples, the German government warns: Regardless of the above classification, the decision on whether to allow entry is made at the discretion of the Federal Police on site upon entry.
This article is important information to thousands of couples separated by travel bans. Share this resource to anyone in need to keep the #LoveIsNotTourism and #LoveIsEssential movement going
Disclaimer: EU reopening news for couples is ever-changing and being updated constantly. We do our best to keep this article up to date with all the latest information, but the decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.