Before diving into the details of our July 2021 sailing trip to Greece, planned just one month prior, we wanted to share a quick overview of the Covid travel guidelines we encountered.

Important: Rules are different for every country, so keep in mind this short blog is specifically for travel from the USA to Greece and back and was written regarding a trip taken July 14 – 25, 2021. Going anywhere else? Keep Googling. Going months after this was written? Track down an update.

Covid travel rules, regulations, and guidelines are a moving target, so before you head half-way across the planet to Greece, research like crazy, err on the side of caution, and be grateful for the opportunity to immerse yourself in an abundance of ancient history and sun-soaked beauty.

Complete your Passenger Locator Form (PLF)

Greece requires everyone to complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF), so this is your first step. There are a number of sites that will charge to help you complete this form, but if you just go to the government site – https://travel.gov.gr – you will find it very easy to navigate. It needs to be completed at least 24 hours before your trip, but my advice is to get it taken care of as soon as you book your trip. There is no need to wait.

The PLF is easy to complete. It requires you to identify the areas you will be staying and which type of certificate you will be using the enter the country. Certificate options include:

  • A negative PCR molecular test result from a laboratory; the test must be taken up to 72 hours before entry.
  • A negative antigen (rapid) test result from a laboratory; the test must be taken up to 48 hours before entry.
  • A vaccination certificate issued by a certified authority.
  • A certificate of recovery from the SARS-CoV-2 virus infection issued by a public authority or a certified laboratory. The certificate is issued 30 days after the day of the first positive COVID-19 test and is valid for 180 days after it.

In addition, you can list other individuals who are traveling with you so that only one PLF for your group needs to be completed. I filled out our form with my information and then added my husband onto the form. Very simple and he did not need to complete a separate PLF.

You will receive an email confirmation that you completed this form. Print or save a copy to have it on-hand in case you do not receive your QR Codes the day of travel.

Receive and Save your QR Codes

A day before your travel (or the day of as is stated in the documentation) you will receive an email with the QR code associated with your PLF. You will need this when you board your flight to Greece and when you arrive in Greece.

Research Rules for Countries you are Traveling Through

We flew from the United States to Madrid and then caught an Aegean flight to Athens Greece. For Spain, you must register for a QR Code from the Spain government to simply pass through the airport and this is required prior to boarding the flight. If you are not flying directly to Greece make sure to research the rules of the country of your layover. Every country is different and you cannot assume that if you are laying over you don’t need to follow country-specific instructions.

When you Arrive in Greece

When we arrived in Greece we needed to show our QR Code along with our Covid Vaccination Cards because that is the certificate we stated we would bring on our PLF . This was a very easy, fast process.

If you do not have your vaccination cards, depending on the type of certificate you chose on the PLF for entry, you might be asked to take a rapid Covid test when you deplane. We did see individuals being routed to a testing area.

Bring your Mask!

Of course all flights, including international flights, still require masks with no exceptions. They are serious about this so please play along. In addition, when you arrive in Greece you will find that wearing a mask indoors is mandated by the government and businesses do require masks. Be sure to carry your mask at a all times and have at least one backup available if needed.

Getting Back Into the United States

Our vaccine cards were enough to get into Greece, but the United States still requires US Citizens who are returning home after international travel to have a negative Covid test taken within the 72 hours of their arrival back into the country. Many travelers were unaware of this and missed our Athens to Chicago flight because they were in a long line at the airport trying to get their test.

The good news is that it is very easy in Greece to arrange for this test. We took ours on Dock D at the Kos Marina the day we returned the boat. It took less than an hour for our results to be provided. Every hotel can arrange for this as well. Be sure to take care of it so that there aren’t any unexpected travel delays.

These few extra travel steps are, at least for now, part of the “new normal” of international travel and are intended to strike a balance between welcoming tourists and keeping residents safe. As long as you learn and follow the guidelines, International travel is possible and absolutely worth it!

Lea Maxwell

Lea Maxwell is the sailor and scribe behind Escape Under Sail, a web|blog project that connects new and future bareboat sailors with the resources, information, and motivation they need to competently and confidently sail beautiful destinations around the world.

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