European Union (EU) countries have agreed to update guidelines for travel by reportedly adding the United States to their 'safe' travel list, meaning American tourists could be permitted to visit this summer without restrictions.

The US and five other countries are expected to be added to the list of regions the EU permits non-essential travel from, according to Reuters. Albania, Lebanon, North Macedonia, Serbia and Taiwan are to be approved, alongside the current list of Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. The Chinese administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau will also be included.

EU governments agreed to recommend lifting the ban on nonessential travel for visitors from these regions on Wednesday but the New York Times reports the decision is expected to be "formally adopted on Friday", with the change to come into effect shortly after.

Street car in the narrow streets of Lisbon
Portugal is already welcoming American visitors ©Pere Rubi/Shutterstock

Countries can be added to the so-called 'white list' if they have recorded fewer than 75 COVID cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the past 14 days.

Residents of these countries and regions can travel to the EU without restrictions as per EU recommendations, regardless of their vaccination status — though individual countries may still decide to request PCR tests from arrivals, or introduce a quarantine period.

Read more: Portugal reopens borders to US travelers from today

Some EU member states, including France, Spain, Greece and Portugal, have already lifted restrictions for American tourists, though Portugal and France require that US visitors — even those who are fully vaccinated — present a negative COVID-19 test result too. 

The EU closed its borders to all non-European travelers in March 2020 to limit the spread of the coronavirus. All member states co-ordinated border restrictions, except Ireland which shares a common travel agreement with the UK and is outside the Schengen Area.

As the EU prepares to lift restrictions for more visitors, it's also preparing to launch its digital COVID-19 certificate on July 1 to facilitate travel between countries inside the bloc this summer. Available to EU residents, the certificate proves the holder has been vaccinated, has tested negative for the virus, or has recovered from it. 

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