There’s more to the story about the Americans who chartered a private jet, flew to Italy, then were turned away. Entry exceptions have been made and continue to be made and entering Europe for the determined American traveler is like encountering law in the Wild West. Can you go to Europe? Maybe…it depends on who you ask.
Who Can Enter Europe? Entry Exceptions Abound…It Depends Upon Who You Ask
On the one hand, you have a European Union-wide rule that blocks American residents from visiting the European Union until COVID-19 is deemed under control in the USA. On the other hand, it must be understood that the EU is not like the United States, with a powerful central government and constitutional supremacy clause. Immigration is still up to every nation and let me assure you that all sorts of exceptions are being made to let in travelers.
The most common one is the business exception. Several nations will make exceptions for business travelers who can convince authorities that their business is vital. What’s vital? Well, that’s not defined. How will you know if you get in? Ask early and ask often? You really don’t until you land in Europe and deal with particular immigration officers or airport immigration staff at your port of entry.
I know someone who needs to go to Europe for business. He asked the embassy of a certain western European nation if he would be allowed in, explaining the essential nature of his trip. Their reply?
“If you can prove that you are entering for business purposes you should be able to enter. You should bring along documentation thereof.”
That world should…
Yes, I Do Feel Sorry For The Americans Who Chartered A Private Jet
I’m not shedding tears for the super rich who think the rules do not apply to them and openly try to flout them. But the story of Americans who chartered a jet and were turned away in Sardinia seems to be about more than ignorant arrogance.
In short, a group of people (six adults, including five Americans, two Brits, two Germans, one Italian, one New Zealander) chartered a jet from Vail, Colorado to Cagliari Airport in Sardinia, Italy. After 11 hours of back-and-forth, the Americans were ultimately turned away at the border. The aircraft ended up continuing to Birmingham, England.
I’m fairly certain most people don’t just hire a private jet and make an intercontinental journey with nothing but faith they can talk their way into a country they are not technically allowed in. Do you really think they just left it to chance?
What does it mean the family had authorization from the airport, the region, and the flight operator in order to enter? Was it just from Gianni Cessa, the head of tourism for Sardinia, who spent the day at the airport with them in “solidarity”? Could it be that Cessa thought he could use his connections to talk them through but came up short? Maybe. But Italy had and still has a “business exception” waiver.
If regional government officials and your flight operator promises you entry, I can certainly understand the anger (and even, in some sense, the feeling of entitlement) if you are then denied entry. Those “poor” folks will be just fine, but the issue nicely spotlights how nebulous the entry situation in Europe is, even after the latest EU directive.
American supermodels Hailey Bieber and Bella Hadid recently had no trouble flying a private jet into Sardinia and entering Italy. Perhaps Hadid has a Dutch passport by virtue of her mother and Bieber a Canadian passport from her husband. Or maybe you have to be rich and famous to be allowed in…
Many readers and Award Expert clients ask me if it is possible to go to Europe right now. My answer is no and we are all better off staying home right now. But for those who push back, I give the honest answer: it depends. It depends upon the border agent you deal with. It depends upon the country you fly in. Is that a risk I recommend? No. But the idea of a truly blanket ban, even after this private jet was turned away, does not appear to be the case.
The rich Americans brought their three children. Since they presumably could have afforded to leave the kids behind in safety with a babysitter, that pretty much destroys the credibility of the critical business argument.
Again, I’m not trying to defend the super rich, but if all sorts of exceptions were and are being made, why not say you have a time-sensitive real estate deal to close and because it impacts the kids, since they will live there, they should be part of the decision.
I know something doesn’t seem right. I know the best bet is probably to make no exceptions. But I just cannot blame these people for being stupid…it’s just the open loophole was closed for them, not that they had no reasonable expectation of entry before they departed.
In a previous post you said “U.S. Residents, Not American Citizens, Banned From European Union”. So, the flight left US with people from different nationalities but the fact that they were all in the US might be the problem. For example, if the Americans on the plane had EU passports, would they be allowed into the country?
That was not the problem. Only the Americans were blocked. The others were permitted entry but chose to stay with the Americans in an act of “solidarity.” The Americans would have been fine with EU passports or even EU resident cards, even if coming from the USA.
Which basically shows the rule is BS. You could be a EU passport holder living in Florida right now where the virus is all over the place and still be allowed into Italy. Rules made by some clueless politician.
Sometimes I wonder if these government have a brain because they ban American from entering Europe but European are going to the island that is open to USA tourist so everyone mixing so European countries needs to open up to every countries but let them bring a 24 hours negative covid test
Is it just the Americans who are planning on suing whoever they can, or are the others joining them for that in solidarity too?
I’m not even addressing that since I see no viable case unless they sue the tourism minister personally. Even then, they should have known he is not the one stamping passports.
Can I transit through Europe on my way to another country where U.S. citizens are welcome?
Yes, transit is not an issue.
Transit is an issue. My son who is 6 years old was not allowed to board Lufthansa plane from San Francisco with an American passport. I was allowed with EU passport. And we were just in transit via Munich to Lithuania. My country was ok that I am coming with my son but Germany did not let him transit.
Matthew, yes they were rich Americans, and yes they were travelling to Sardinia for tourism, no business involved, and yes they were rightly denied entry. There are people who think they can get away with anything they want, because they are rich.
The Europeans were allowed entry, with 14 days quarantine, but of course being guest of the Americans, there was no point to do it, and left with them (no issue of “solidarity”)
Mr. Cessa, director of Tourism for Sardinia, lost a good chance to not appear ridicolous. He is from the same authority that wanted to require a “Health passport” for tourists from continental Italy only a month ago, when already the situation was totally under control.
Good thing the State affirmed its prevailing authority.
Which countries are allowing people in for business purposes (and what is the “certain western European nation” you cited)? Am supposed to go to our Austria HQ in September and would like to plan accordingly if possible, although am not banking on going…
Also – what do you mean by “all sorts of exceptions are being made to let in travelers” ? Am curious
It *appears* you can actually get into Croatia right now as a US citizen. According to this: https://hr.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information-2/ and https://mup.gov.hr/uzg-covid/english/286212 you can enter for tourist reasons as long as you have a reservation proving tourist activity in Croatia. Or am I getting this wrong? If i’m reading this correctly, this further illustrates your point. Each country is free to make their own decisions.
It is true. Hotels must be prepaid however for the duration of your stay. A lot of Americans have now been booking there.
A few airlines have tried to block passengers on flights that were connecting to Croatia within the EU but, when showed that Croatia is allowing Americans, they were allowed to travel.
Also, Croatia is not a member of Schengen.
@Stuart, do Americans hate domestic travel so much that they’re willing to go to these lengths just to get to Europe? Kind of amusing!
I would say it’s perhaps far more complex than that. Families are separated, businesses are walled in, and even friends and lovers across the ocean are now isolated from one another. If anything let’s hope that this ban reminds each of us on either side how much our societies are actually intertwined. We may have different languages, and the U.S. may have a horrid moment in history right now, but we are still very much a part of each others lives.
I doubt Bob and Martha are complaining that they can’t go on their Italian summer vacation. They are not traveling anyway. This is about people who live and love and work between the continents and are finding ways.
So, to answer your question? I would bet that most of the travel to Croatia are people finding a place to reunite families, business travelers looking for a way in, and lovers looking for a common and welcoming place. Is that so bad?
Serbia allows too.
I visited Croatia before it joined the EU when there were only about 8 million arrivals annually. Now there are over 18 million. Dubrovnik already was pretty crowded a decade ago. I can only imagine what a hell it has become after Game of Thrones. I wonder how numbers are now during the pandemic.
I entered Italy last week traveling on a US passport. I flew from LHR to MXP on British Airways. At check-in at T5 I was asked about the purpose of my travel. I told the agent the purpose of my travel did not matter as I was not subject to travel restrictions after having stayed in the UK for more than 14 days prior to flying to Italy. She confirmed this with her manager. There was no Fast Track lane for security and I was required to remove my belt and shoes. Club Europe catering included alcohol but no ice, so my Bloody Mary was disappointingly warm. Food was a boxed lunch from Do & Co with a cheese and onion relish sandwich (vegetarian selection), chickpea salad, chocolate mousse and a bottle of water. At Italian immigration I was asked where I was coming from, whether it was in transit, and whether I had a residency card. I replied that I my trip originated in London and that I did not have a residency card. The officer stamped my passport and sent me on my way. It seems like one could easily circumvent the 14-day quarantine requirement. Oh, also of note were that overhead bins were banned from use (Italian rule) and that mask wearing is much more prevalent in Italy than in the UK, though in small groups people don’t usually bother with it.
@cargocult I’m curious, did immigration in Italy ask to see any proof that you were in the UK for the 14 days prior?
No, and the whole interaction took about 15 seconds, which is why I said it seemed like the regulation would be easy to circumvent, not that I recommend such a thing. I don’t believe the UK shares travel data with the EU, does it? I have always found Italian border controls to be lax compared to elsewhere. I also don’t appreciate how haphazard the border police tend to be when stamping passports, and they typically don’t appreciate it when asked to stamp a specific page. This agent was amenable to my request, however.
Why do you care which page they stamp?
When I lived in Japan and was back and forth to the US and Europe frequently let alone within Asia (think once every 10-14 days to either the US or Europe), I’d frequently encounter immigration officials that would hunt for an entire free page for their specific stamp. Sometimes stamps would cross into a different “quadrant” of the page and on multiple occasions an immigration officer would claim (spuriously, no doubt) that he or she couldn’t stamp that specific spot because it was already “occupied” by another country’s stamp. I was already working on a passport that had the additional pages added after the fact – when they were still doing that – and had zero desire to attempt to get a new passport on short-notice via the US Embassy in Tokyo given my frequent travels. So I resorted to asking every immigration official to stamp sequentially in my passport to maximize its use/duration. Plus, I’ve noticed some countries prefer their entry and exit stamps appear next to each other (Thailand comes to mind) so this also made it easier to have my passport opened to the correct page.
I read an article from Elle that Hadid and Baldwin were in Sardinia for work purposes (modeling shoot.) Not sure if that’s legit or not but that’s what it said. I guess it would qualify as a business exception.
Not sure why you are picking on poor Hailey and Bella. If you did some research you’d see they entered Italy using the “proven work” exception (not dual nationality). Apparently a photo shoot they had booked in Sardinia was enough to get them in. Just goes to show that in Italy modeling is considered vital and essential work.
Ha. I did research that but obviously missed what you found. Source?
Page Six, where I get all my celebrity news (along with LaLF of course):
Du you think it is possible for US passport holder who quarantines in the UK will be allowed to go to France?
My hunch says no way, but many have reported success quarantining in the UK before traveling to Europe.
I’m trying to enter Germany to be reunited with my children. We were separated because of this pandemic. I’m desperate to get to my babies. You wouldn’t believe how many people I’ve talked to, trying to get into Germany. So many months but still no answers. My 5 year old children don’t remember how to speak English. You can’t imagine how horrific this has been for us. Thanks for posting the article. Even though I’m bitter about other travelers being accepted, I enjoyed the read.
MaryGrace, check my next article publishing in a few minutes. Are you unmarried? Is the problem your lack of official legal status? There may be hope for you.
I have do have a valid business need to be in Italy very soon and plan on getting the business exemption form filled out by our Italian legal team there (I am a US citizen). Any idea whether I need to have a negative CV-19 test results in hand as well to enter (I don’t plan on staying longer than 120 hours in Italy).
Do you have twins?
“Perhaps Hadid has a Dutch passport by virtue of her mother and Bieber a Canadian passport from her husband.”
Hadid would definitely be automatically eligible for Dutch citizenship via her mother. Bieber wouldn’t be automatically eligible, since Canada does not grant automatic citizenship for spouses, she would have have to live in Canada for 5 years as a resident to be eligible.
Now, I have no idea if Yolanda Hadid’s kids actually do have dual citizenship, but if they were smart, they would. But I guess the point is moot, as someone above posted they had a work permit/exemption to be in Italy…
Matthew, as an EU-U.S. dual citizen, I have no sympathy for Americans who are banned from the EU as long as the U.S. imposes an unnecessary travel ban on EU citizens. The EU currently has contained the coronavirus — there is basically no longer a European epidemic, even in Italy. So why does the U.S. maintain its travel ban on EU citizens while not imposing one on, say, India and its raging epidemic?
If U.S. citizens want to travel to the EU, they should demand the U.S. drop its travel ban on EU citizens. Reciprocity matters.
No disagreement from me, James. In fact, I think the US border should be opened immediately to European tourism no matter what Europe does.
@Matthew, agreed. And, once this happens, I think the EU position on the U.S. public health situation — probably worse on paper than it is in reality, given declining deaths — would quickly evolve towards welcoming Americans.
Canada does not currently allow entry from EU citizens yet they are on the approved EU list to enter. Tell me again about reciprocity being a determining factor?
The whole thing is a political tantrum. There are other things going on with the EU and US like the global tech tax fight, tariffs and WTO arguments, along with the manner in which POTUS did not consult with the EU before banning flights in March.
Its a diplomatic breakdown and the playing up of certain figures like cases is just being used to hide the real reason this has happened, while allowing many who dislike the current Prez to take a swipe.
I am living in USA and I am a holder of European Union Passport! I would like to travel to Austria, where I used to live and have a property ( just a land) am I allowed to travel? And do I have a guarantee entry without any issues and Covid 19 related problems??
I am living currently in USA . I am a holder of European union Passport! Am I allowed to travel to Austria, where I used to live and work! I also own a property there! ( just a land) .Do I have a guarantee entry without any issues and problems regarding Covid 19?
There is no definitive. Most likely you would be able to. But the way the EU has written this, it is so convoluted that if anyone, including the airline you are trying to board out of the U.S., or the Border officers upon entry, wants to interpret it as stated (that it is not your Passport, but your Residency that will determine entry) they could deny. I would definitely choose not to fly via Germany which seems to be the most adamant on holding up the original principles (they are absolutely opposed to the “Lovers Exemption” as an example) and fly directly to Austria (who appear to be a bit more approachable).
With that said, you would probably have no issues at all. That is the absurdity of the entire thing. Despite the wording by the EU, from what I am hearing out there, people so far with a EU passport that live in the U.S. are having no problems at all. You are, “returning home.”
I am missing out on a job that I was hired for pre virus in January to start in September and now I have to replan my life for the next year to stay in the f-king US and not be living my life in the EU.I hate politics and hate Trump for putting on in shambles and creating a laughing stock of the US which used to carry authority overseas .Now this is nothing but a shit hole that I can’t leave because of my citizenship .How can love be considered it not work ???
Ashley, I’m curious, how can that be? Anyone with a Visa D or a work permit can easily enter the EU. You would not be banned at all,