You now need a booster to enter Ireland and Spain – and more countries too, soon


  • Ireland and Spain now consider primary vaccinations to be invalid after 270 days, for purposes of entry.
  • That means you have to be boosted within nine months of your last vaccine dose, or you will be treated as unvaccinated and turned away, or be required to quarantine.
  • The European Union has agreed to a 270-day validity period for internal travel, though countries can set their own rules for non-EU travellers.
  • More countries in Europe will be adopting the nine-month period, and others beyond the continent are looking to adjust their definition of “fully vaccinated”.
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If it has been more than 270 days since your last dose of coronavirus vaccine, you may now have trouble getting into Ireland and Spain.

Those two countries have confirmed that they now apply that limit – the equivalent of about nine months – to all types of vaccine certificates, for the purposes of travel. 

“Keep in mind that you need 14 days from the last dose at least and no more than 270 days since the date of administration of your last dose,” the Spanish government tells prospective travellers to that country. “From that moment on, your vaccination certificate must show the administration of your booster dose.”

Ireland phrases the count as starting from “the final dose in the primary vaccine series”, which is currently the second dose of Pfizer or the first of J&J. The effect is the same, however: travellers without a coronavirus vaccine shot in the last nine months may be denied entry, or be required to quarantine on arrival, and will be treated no differently from those never vaccinated against Covid-19.

The 270 days comes from European Union guidance that sets that duration as the minimum acceptance period between member states, which are now required to honour each others’ vaccinations for at least that long. 

That applies “only to the vaccination certificates used for the purpose of travel in the EU”, with each country left to make its own domestic arrangements, though they “are invited to align with the acceptance period set at EU level”.

Like Spain and Ireland, the Netherlands is due to adopt the nine-month period as a maximum. More countries – including those beyond Europe with close travel ties to the bloc – are expected to do the same, and apply the period to all visitors, if only for ease of administration.

Many countries have adapted, or are in the process of reconsidering, how they define “fully vaccinated” in light of overwhelming evidence of waning immunity over time.

There is currently no EU expiry date on booster shots, so those who have had three injections of Pfizer, or two of J&J, can travel to all EU countries indefinitely – for now.

“Supported by the experts at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Medicines Agency, the Commission will closely monitor whether future adaptations to this rule are needed,” said the European Commission’s commissioner for justice, Didier Reynders, in a statement this week.

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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