What to know about travelling with unvaccinated children this winter

Nov 25, 2021

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Travelling as a family can be stressful at the best of times but with ever-changing COVID restrictions in place – not to mention confusing vaccination rules – now more than ever you can be forgiven for losing track of the rules and what you need to organise. 

At present in the U.K. children aged 12-15-years-old can only receive a single jab which could prove problematic when arranging family holidays to certain destinations where being double vaccinated is now a compulsory requirement. 

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Currently, almost 60 per cent of 12-15 year-olds living in the United Kingdom have not had their first jab with many not expected to receive their inoculation until February 2022. 

In destinations where double vaccination isn’t required it’s more than likely that other measures will be in place including frequent testing and domestic passes. Planning properly ahead of time could save you both money and stress.

For example, visitors to Austria would currently face being banned from entering public spaces without vaccination proof, and in France and Italy, you must go through regular testing which could end up being incredible pricy.

Related: Everything Brits need to know about travelling to the U.S. right now

Here are some key destinations and the rules to be aware of, we’ll endeavour to keep this page updated as more updates are announced. As always we recommend visiting official government websites well ahead of your travel date to ensure you meet all the requirements needed. 

In This Post

Austria

Austria recently imposed some of the strictest restrictions in Europe but currently, unvaccinated children between the ages of 12 and 18 are able to enter provided they are travelling with a vaccinated adult. 

The NHS Covid pass and/or proof of recovery is accepted when looking to gain entry to public spaces. Negative tests alone, however, are not accepted. 

Belgium

U.K travellers can only currently visit Belgium for essential reasons if unvaccinated. Vaccinated travellers must take a PCR test on day 1 or 2 of your visit, and quarantine until you receive a negative result.

Children under the age of 12 will not be required to get tested but must quarantine with any parents doing the same.

Travellers can instead choose to take a PCR or antigen test before leaving U.K. on the day or day before arrival in Belgium. If negative, there is then no requirement to be tested or quarantine on day 1 or day 2 of your visit.

Canada

As above, there will be no entry for unvaccinated children between the ages of 12 and 15. Any child under the age of 12 must travel with a vaccinated adult and also take a PCR test 72 hours before travelling. Arrival and day-eight tests are also in place which will be provided by the Canadian government.

Further to this for the first 14 days of your stay, children must not attend large crowded gatherings or travel on crowded transport – children under four will be exempt.

While rules for domestic COVID passes vary by state, most places will require vaccination in public spaces.

France

Children aged 15 and under can enter France if travelling with a parent or guardian. 

The NHS Covid Pass is accepted, though children between the age of 12 and 15 must be regularly tested with either an antigen or PCR test, which remains valid for up to 48 hours. 

Germany

Unvaccinated children between the ages of 12 and 15 will currently be unable to gain entry to Germany, whereas kids under the age of 12 will be allowed entry provided that they are travelling with a vaccinated parent or guardian.

If you are able to cross over into Germany you will also need to check domestic COVID passports schemes which can vary by state, city and region. Certain regions require either proof of vaccination or of a recent full recovery from COVID for over 12s. Negative tests alone will not be accepted.

Italy

To gain entry to Italy, children under the age of 18 are exempt from vaccination but must carry out PCR or antigen tests 48 hours prior to travel, with children under five exempt from testing. 

Regular testing for children aged 12-15 is mandatory and as above – an antigen or PCR test will be valid for 48 hours. 

Israel

Both children and adults will not be permitted entry, without full vaccination. The vaccine must be one approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), or proof that you have recovered from COVID in accordance with the protocol set by Israel as explained on their website. 

Malta

There is currently no entry for unvaccinated children between the ages of 12 and 15, and under-12s must travel with a vaccinated adult and take a PCR test 72 hours prior to departure. If your child is under the age of five they will be exempt from these requirements.

Once on the ground in Malta, bars and restaurants are able to require proof of vaccination for children 12 and over, but this is left to the discretion of the businesses.

Thailand

Any children between the ages of 12 and 18 must be fully-vaccinated to visit Thailand, however, children under the age of 12 will be allowed to travel provided that they are travelling with a fully-vaccinated adult.


With travel, the key to any smooth trip has always been: organisation. But now more than ever it’s key to stay abreast of the rules, and ensure you regularly check for updates for your travel destination. 

We will keep this article updated as restrictions are imposed or relaxed but also urge you to check in on local government websites as rules can change fast. 

Featured image by Stefan Cristian Cioata/Getty

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