If you’re travelling to Europe this summer, be prepared for more border crossing restrictions than you may have been accustomed to in past years, ensure that your documentation is up to date, and make sure you have proof of private supplemental travel health insurance that meets EU standards (€30,000 to €40,000 in coverage).
Because of the continuing threat of terrorist activity, many EU countries have reintroduced border inspections and so you need to be prepared to show passports, any relevant visas that apply, and whatever documents border agents ask for.
For example, if travelling to Russia to visit family or relatives for more than 3 months you may have to show evidence of recent negative HIV or TB testing. The same is true of Egypt if you’re planning a stay of 30 days or more.
If you’re travelling to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, or Bulgaria, you may well be asked to show proof of health insurance that covers you for the entirety your stay. Your provincial health insurance card won’t do. And if you don’t have such proof, you may be required to buy coverage locally or at a state-sponsored agency right at the border.
The high coverage levels provided by Canadian travel insurers will more than meet all such requirements, but make sure you carry your insurance card with you (best to carry your actual policy). Just telling the border agent you have coverage won’t do.
For example, Bulgaria requires not only proof of supplemental insurance, but evidence that it covers up to at least €30,000 as well as repatriation benefits by commercial air or air ambulance.
And also be aware that there are still countries in Europe—primarily some in the east or in the Balkans—where medical services are well below Canada’s standards, and your only safe option in case of medical emergency is air repatriation—either home to Canada or to a more developed European nation. Either way, this is a very expensive alternative if you have to pay out of pocket.
Because of continuing concerns about terrorist activities, the free access of travellers across EU borders is not as free at it was—subject to frequent re-impositions of border controls by individual nations. So be prepared for interruptions in your planned itinerary: take extra cash, budget additional time for delays, and don’t forget to register with Travel Canada if you’re journeying through several countries. Registration can keep you connected to your government and to your family at home.
Also anticipate changes in entry/exit requirements of any countries you will be visiting or transiting between the time you make your arrangements and actually travel. Before you leave, and even while you are travelling, stay connected to Travel Canada Advisories and click on entry/exit requirements to stay up to date on what to expect at the next stop on your itinerary. It’s a close as your smartphone or iPad.
We’ll be updating changes to border regulations throughout the summer. Stay with us.
In the meantime, browse your travel insurance options here.