More than a dozen UK nationals have been refused entry to the Netherlands since 1 January because Britain is no longer exempt from Covid-related restrictions on non-essential travel from outside the EU since it left the bloc.
A Dutch border force spokesman confirmed on Monday that up to 13 British citizens had been turned away at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport since Friday because their trips were not necessary and third-country coronavirus regulations now applied.
The news came after British citizens living in Spain were barred from boarding flights in the UK because the airline said their pre-Brexit residency papers were declared no longer valid, while others were refused entry to Germany.
There were also reports of passengers turned away from KLM flights from UK airports to the Netherlands because they did not have a negative test, their journey did not qualify as essential, or they could could not show proof of Dutch or EU residency.
Only a handful of countries with low coronavirus rates are exempt from EU rules barring non-essential visitors from outside the bloc and European Economic Area. The UK was removed from the list at the end of the Brexit transition period.
“They all had a negative PCR test, but they forget the basic rule that it must be a necessary trip, for example for work or due to serious personal circumstances,” gendarmerie spokesman Robert van Kapel told the NOS public broadcaster.
“People from safe countries are allowed to pass, but the UK is certainly not a safe country right now,” Van Kapel said. He added that some of the travellers “only wanted to visit Amsterdam”, while one man was planning to fly from Schiphol to Spain for a skiiing holiday. “That’s just not the intention now,” Van Kapel said.
EU member states agreed in October to adopt a European council proposal to allow non-essential travel from a small group of countries with lower levels of Covid infections, including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea.
European nationals and British citizens living in the EU can still travel from the UK to the bloc with a recent negative test and proof of residence, while EU member states can in theory override the European council recommendations should they wish to.
Few have, however, meaning that as long as the restrictions remain in place, British nationals can now only enter the bloc in certain cases, mainly for urgent family reasons, study, or work – including aid workers, care workers, diplomats, healthcare professionals, military personnel and transport workers.
Since the end of the Brexit transition period at midnight central European time on 31 December, passengers from Britain who have a valid reason to travel to the EU must in any case also have at least six months left on their passport.
They can no longer use EU fast-track passport control and customs lanes, and should be prepared to show a return ticket, provide evidence that they have enough money for your stay, and have their passport stamped.
On Sunday eight Britons living in Spain were turned away from a BA/Iberia flight to Madrid. The airline refused to accept their green cards as proof of residence despite assurances by the British and Spanish governments that the old foreign national identification (NIE) document and the new foreign ID card (TIE) were valid.
A small number of British citizens were also barred from entry into Germany. A Lufthansa spokesman said the airline was aware of a British citizen being stopped from boarding a flight in the UK after failing to prove their residence in Germany.
Victoria Dobbie tweeted on Sunday that she was stopped from boarding a flight to Munich after Lufthansa rejected her rental contract, work contract and her German tax number as adequate proof of residence.
Britons resident in Germany are not expected to receive new types of residence documents confirming their status for several months and Germany’s federal police have said border staff would also accept rental or work contracts as proof.
There are concerns, however, that ground staff at airports are not qualified to assess the validity of documents and could demand proof residents are not legally required to present. British in Germany, a campaign group, has written to the German embassy in London to express their concern.