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Danish travel rules: What’s the difference between ‘risk’ and ‘high risk’ countries?

Denmark’s Covid-19 travel rules can be confusing for international travellers trying to figure out if they can enter the country. What is the difference between a ‘risk’ and ‘high risk’ country, and how will this affect you?

Denmark differentiates between ‘risk’ and ‘high risk’ non-EU countries for Covid-19 travel, which can affect the rules that apply when entering the Nordic country.
Denmark differentiates between ‘risk’ and ‘high risk’ non-EU countries for Covid-19 travel, which can affect the rules that apply when entering the Nordic country. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Rules relating to documentation of a negative Covid-19 test currently apply for travel to Denmark, though persons resident in the country can take a test up to 24 hours after entry. For those who live abroad, a negative Covid-19 test must be presented at entry.

Persons who have tested positive for Covid-19 (between 11 and 180 days ago) are exempt from testing rules.

In some cases, entry quarantine can be required for persons travelling from countries outside of the EU or Schengen area. This may also depend on whether the countries are considered by Denmark to be “risk” or “high risk” countries or regions with regard to Covid-19.

Only people from “high risk” countries have to isolate when travelling to Denmark, but in many cases isolation will not be necessary even if you come from a country on the “high risk” list. The various rules are set out below.

In updated rules added on January 16th to the Danish language version of the official coronasmitte.dk website (which has a different layout to the English version), the distinction between risk and high risk, and how it affects quarantine and testing, is explained.

There are no isolation requirements for people travelling to Denmark from within the EU or Schengen area.

For other countries (including the United Kingdom), the rules which apply depend on whether Denmark considers the country to be a “risk” or “high risk” country or region.

The current entry testing and isolation rules are based on a directive that is valid until at least January 31st, 2022.

Countries can also be classified as countries of concern relating to a new Covid-19 variant. However, no country currently falls into this third category and it will not be further discussed in this article.

Covid-19 “risk countries” at the time of writing are Bahrain, Chile, Colombia, UAE, Indonesia, Kuwait, New Zealand, Peru, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Uruguay, plus Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

Covid-19 “high risk” countries are all countries not on the above list that are not in the EU or Schengen area. The United Kingdom, United States, Australia and South Africa, for example, therefore all fall into this group. The three former countries are, however, members of the OECD, while South Africa is not. This is important for reasons which will follow below.

Persons who are fully vaccinated who live in either a “risk” country or an OECD country (even if it is “high risk”) can enter Denmark without being encompassed by entry quarantine rules.

Vaccinated persons who live in the EU or Schengen area do not have to enter isolation when entering Denmark from a high-risk country. Neither are people with an EU vaccination certificate who live in a high-risk country required to isolate.

Another exemption to isolation requirements can apply when entering Denmark from a high-risk country: namely a vaccine certificate given equivalent status with the EU vaccine pass by the European Commission.

The European Commission accepts vaccine passes from a list of countries, which are considered equivalent with the EU vaccine pass. The full list can be found here, and includes the United Kingdom but not the United States, Australia or South Africa. It is updated on an ongoing basis.

Taking travel from the United Kingdom as a case study, the rules mean the following for someone entering Denmark from the UK:

People who live in the UK don’t need to isolate on arrival in Denmark if they are fully vaccinated and can present the UK’s vaccination certificate, but they must take a Covid-19 test before entry (within the last 48 hours at the time of entry for a rapid antigen test or 72 hours for a PCR test).

Previously infected persons (who have documentation for a positive PCR test taken at least 11 days and less than 180 days ago) are not required to take a test or isolate.

Unvaccinated people from the UK with no history of infection must follow both test and isolation requirements.

Does this article make the rules clearer? Is there anything you’d like us to explain further or look into? Let us know.

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COVID-19 RULES

Denmark’s infectious disease agency does not recommend Covid tests for China arrivals

Travellers from China should not need a negative Covid-19 test when arriving in Denmark, the national infectious disease control agency State Serum Institute recommended on Saturday, in an assessment sent to the Ministry of Health.

Denmark's infectious disease agency does not recommend Covid tests for China arrivals

In the assessment by the State Serum Institute (SSI), it was noted that there aren’t expected to be a large number of arrivals coming directly from China and that any tests would have a marginal affect on Danish epidemic control.

However SSI wrote that it was still important to keep an eye on new variants of Covid-19 and suggested that a sample of voluntary-based PCR tests could be introduced for travellers from China.

The assessment was requested by Denmark’s health minister Sophie Løhde, following a recommendation on Wednesday by European Union experts to tighten travel rules.

Infection rates in China are high after it abolished its ‘zero Covid’ policy in late 2022, although no precise numbers are available.

Several European countries, including France, Spain, Italy and the UK, had already introduced testing requirements, while Sweden on Thursday announced a similar step, as did Germany, with an added announcement on Saturday to discourage non-essential travel from Germany to China.

The United States, Canada, India, South Korea and Taiwan have also put testing rules in place.

Health minister Sophie Løhde also asked SSI to assess testing waste water from aircraft landed from China. SSI responded that there is limited experience in this.

SSI currently analyses samples from shared toilet tanks at four airports twice a week – Copenhagen, Aarhus, Aalborg and Billund. The method would have to be changed in order to detect new Covid-19 variants, which would take up to four weeks to implement, according to the assessment.

Løhde has informed the parliamentary parties about the assessment and has asked the Epidemic Commission for an advisory assessment, she said in a press release. Once this is done, the recommendations will be discussed. 

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