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Reader Question: Do you need a negative PCR test to board a flight from UK to Denmark?

A reader travelling from the UK to Denmark last week was asked for a negative PCR test by their airline even though, according to Denmark's police hotline, they didn't need one. So might you need to show a negative PCR test to board a flight from the UK?

Reader Question: Do you need a negative PCR test to board a flight from UK to Denmark?
Easyjet's Covid-19 travel advice page is confusing. Photo: Eric Gaillard/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

Nope. No matter what country you are resident in, or what your vaccination or immunity status is, you should not need to show a negative PCR test to board any flight from the UK to Denmark, regardless of the airline.  

Denmark on August 14th scrapped the “red” category, which required residents of countries in the category to show a negative PCR test before boarding a plane to Denmark, judging that as the Delta variant is now dominant in Denmark and has outcompeted all other virus variants of concern, there was no need for this extra layer of control. 

What are the airlines saying on their websites? 

It’s quite confusing. Easyjet’s travel information page does not seem completely up to date,  and is not very clear on what is required. 

Norwegian’s travel advice page says that passengers travelling to Denmark need a negative PCR test less than 72 hours old or an antigen test less than 48 hours old, but does not point out that the latter can be obtained on arrival in Denmark.

SAS has a travel-ready centre, which will tell those taking its flights what tests, vaccination certificates etc they require for each destination if they load up their booking number and travel documents. 

So might my airline ask for a negative PCR test by mistake? 

According to Alexandra Lindgren Kaoukji, head of media relations at the airline SAS, last week there were reports of ground staff, particularly at airports outside London, not being updated with the changed Danish regulations, particularly at the start of the week. 

“I know in the beginning when it all changed, it was all a bit confusing and that’s when I’ve heard there have been some challenges updating our staff,” she said, adding that in smaller airports the airline has “outsourced staff”, making these challenges even more difficult. 

By this point, however, she says she thinks it is unlikely that anyone travelling from the UK to Denmark will be asked for a negative PCR test. 

“It would surprise me if this problem was still lingering. If you are on a straightforward journey to Copenhagen, there shouldn’t be any mistakes, especially now a few days into the new system.” 

Is there anything else apart from a passport or a ticket I might need before boarding the plane? 

There shouldn’t be.  

If you are not a Danish resident, and have not been vaccinated in an EU or OECD country, and are resident in a country classified as “orange” (which includes the UK), you will need a “worthy purpose” to enter Denmark, but this is something that is determined at the Danish border and not before boarding your flight. 

Those not vaccinated in an OECD country will also need to show a negative before cross border control in Denmark, even if they have recovered from a coronavirus infection or been vaccinated outside the OECD or EU. But you can get a rapid antigen test for free at Denmark’s airports, so you do not need to have a test before boarding your flight. 

Danish citizens and foreigners with permanent residence in or a residence permit in Denmark do not need to show a test before entry. 

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‘A game changer’: Airlines demand EU explain new border system for non-EU travellers

Industry associations representing airlines have called on European authorities to plan a “public communications campaign” to alert non-EU nationals about new requirements to enter and exit the Schengen area.

'A game changer': Airlines demand EU explain new border system for non-EU travellers

The EU Entry/Exit System (EES) will record the biometric data (finger prints and facial recognition) of non-EU citizens travelling for short stays to the Schengen area (EU countries minus Ireland, Romania and Bulgaria, plus Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland), each time they cross the external borders.

Fully digital, the system will enable the automatic scanning of passports replacing manual stamping by border guards. The data collected will be kept in a centralised database shared among the Schengen countries.

The EES was created to tighten up border security and will ensure the enforcement of the 90-day limit in any 180-day period for tourists and visitors. But it requires changes in the infrastructure at the external borders, including airports, and the setting up of a new digital infrastructure to connect authorities in participating countries.

Its entry into operation has already been delayed several times. The latest date for the EES launch was May this year, but last week European authorities decided to postpone it again “due to delays from the contractors”. It is now expected to enter into force at the end of 2023, as The Local reported this week.

Airline associations including European region of Airports Council International (ACI), Airlines for Europe (A4E), the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed the delay and said further preparations are needed.

“The EES will be a game changer for how the EU’s borders are managed. There are, however, a number of issues which must be resolved to ensure a smooth roll out and operation of the new system so that air passengers do not face disruptions,” a joint statement says.

Things to be resolved include a “wider adoption and effective implementation of automation at national border crossing points by national authorities, funding by member states to ensure a sufficient number of trained staff and resources are deployed to manage the EU’s external border, particularly at airports,” and the “deployment of sufficient resources” to help airports and airlines with new procedures.

Airlines also said there needs to be a public communications campaign to inform non-EU citizens about the changes.

In addition, industry groups called on EU-LISA, the agency responsible for managing the system, to “strengthen communication” with airlines and with international partners such as the US “to ensure IT systems are connected and compatible.”

The decision to postpone the EES entry into operation until after the summer “will give airlines, airports and EU and national authorities the opportunity to resolve these issues and ensure the system is fully tested,” the statement continues.

The EU-LISA is currently preparing a revised timeline for the launch, which will be presented for approval at the Justice and Home Affairs Council, the meeting of responsible EU ministers, in March 2023.

This article was prepared in cooperation with Europe Street News.