Traveling in Europe can seem a bit complicated, with the EU being made up of 27 countries. It is important to know some practical advice, whether traveling on business or on holiday. Certain considerations must be attended to, such as necessary documents, healthcare, currency exchange and mobile phone service. Europe has a wealth of attractions waiting to be discovered and being armed with a little practical knowledge can make your trip easier and more fun.
All non-EU citizens are required to have a valid passport to enter any EU country. Visitors from the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Croatia, Australia, and 34 others do not need a visa for visits of three months or less. The visa restrictions for the UK and Ireland differ slightly from other EU countries, so be sure to check the specifics with the consulate or embassy of the country you wish to visit. Some border officials may request additional documents, the most common being return ticket or proof of financial responsibility.
European currency is denoted by the euro, the legal tender for nearly 300 million citizens of 17 EU countries. The symbol for the euro is E. Euro notes are identical in all EU countries, however each country produces its own coins with one side displaying its distinct national emblem. All euro notes and coins are accepted in any country that has adopted the euro. The United Kingdom, Sweden, and Denmark do not use the euro.
Withdrawing from a cash machine in the EU costs the same as it does in your own country from any ATM that doesn’t belong to your bank. The transaction fees are the same. You may leave or enter any EU country with up to E10,000 in cash without declaration. Some countries apply these cash controls to people travelling between EU countries.
When travelling among EU countries, no limits are in place concerning purchase amounts or what you may take with you when you leave, provided the items are for personal use and not resale. Taxes are included in the purchase price of items and no further tax may be due in any other EU country.
Some basic laws protect all EU consumers. These include food safety, proper and accurate labeling of foods including organics, clear pricing and per-unit breakdown of pricing, clear labeling of cosmetics and sunscreens, and prohibition of misleading practices and information. The European Consumer Centers offer helpful information on consumer rights as well as assistance with problems or disputes. These centers exist in all 27 countries of the EU.
It is very important to take your prescription medications with you on your EU trip, however do not take more than you will need as large quantities of drugs are prohibited from crossing borders. Travel insurance is a very good idea to cover emergency health costs, wilderness rescue, or return to your home country for medical care. There are generally no immunization requirements for EU travel, but recommendations exist for visiting some of the EU’s overseas territories. A physician can offer helpful advice.
Strict standards are in place for water quality in the EU. At any beach or marina where you see a Blue Flag, you can rest assured that the area has attained specific standards on water quality, safety, and environmental management. Nearly 3,000 beaches and marinas in Europe were awarded the Blue Flag in 2009-2010. The water is safe in nearly all EU locations for drinking, bathing, and swimming so you can feel comfortable with traveling in Europe.