What documents are needed to travel from the Czech Republic to Greece? Confusion may be cleared up Friday

Some travel agencies, however, plan to help their clients cover the cost of a COVID-19 test

Samantha Tatro

Written by Samantha Tatro
Published on 12.08.2020 11:03 (updated on 12.08.2020)

Czech tourists traveling to Greece in the next few weeks may face some headaches and confusion as they navigate the surprise recent announcement that residents from a number of European countries, including Czech Republic, will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival to the country starting next week.

It’s not as cut-and-dry as it sounds, though. Czech authorities, as of Wednesday, reportedly do not know exactly what the Greeks will demand from Czech tourists when they land in Greece.

This week’s announcement made one thing clear: due to a growing number of COVID-19 cases in Czech Republic, Czech residents traveling to Greece will need to submit a negative molecular PCR COVID-19 test no older than 72 hours before entry starting on Monday, August 17. All travelers arriving through Greece’s land borders, including Greek citizens, need to provide a negative COVID-19 test.

However, at a Tuesday press conference, officials went back and forth on whether Czechs would also need a a certificate of negativity signed by a doctor in addition to the test.

“Together, two documents will be needed, we already know that. However, the Greek side also demands that this be confirmed medically. For this reason, citizens planning a trip to Greece should take into account that in addition to a negative coronavirus test, they should also submit a so-called medically confirmed certificate of negativity,” Renata Povolná, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health, explained for Radiožurnál on Tuesday evening. The documents will need to be in English as well.

The certificate could complicate matters, as it would require extra effort on behalf of the traveler and may cost around 250 CZK extra. In addition, it must be signed by a doctor and not a laboratory technician, so some labs may not be able to offer you the certificate. You can download a sample of the document here.

Greece plans to announce formal rules outlining the issues on Friday. Czech officials continue discussions with their counterparts in Greece to understand what the regulations will look like.

“We are negotiating with the Greek authorities, we have connected epidemiologists and hygienists on both sides so that they can better inform themselves about the situation and developments in the Czech Republic. I believe that these restrictions will not last long,” Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (ČSSD) told Czech Television.

Until Friday, though, officials do not know for sure what Czech residents will need to provide.

Along with Croatia, Greece has been one of the most popular summer holiday destinations for Czech travelers this summer and an estimated 32,000 Czech tourists visit the country each summer, according to Jarmila Rážová, the Czech Republic’s chief hygienist.

Many Czechs began to worry once Greece announced their new restrictions because COVID-19 tests in Czech Republic can be costly, despite the 1,674 CZK cap on the test cost, and some tests can take days to come back with results. For example, many testing points do not operate on weekends and will not be able to test people within the required time frame if they plan to head to Greece on Monday, August 17, when the requirement takes effect.

Some facilities do not accept people who pay for their test at all. At Brno Bohunice University Hospital, self-paying testers can only be tested on Mondays and Wednesdays, and empty slots book up quickly, so tourists traveling next week may struggle.

There are testing points at the Prague Airport, but those options can be costly and may have excessively long lines. The standard test costs 1,750 CZK and an accelerated test with results in a few hours costs 7,500 CZK. Some people will wait in line for hours.

In light of the news, Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček said that he believed the restriction would only apply to Czech residents for a “very short time,” according to iDnes. Rážová said Greece may return Czech Republic to their safe list with no restrictions in the coming weeks.

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The Ministry of Health has began responding to the Greek government’s decision and plans to work with travel agencies to facilitate trips to the country. One proposal includes sending lists with tourist names, addresses and dates of departure to cities in advance to ensure they are given priority and tested for COVID-19 in time.

Officials recommend using a test site in your region (find the full list here) and go to a university or regional hospital.

Travel agencies have also been caught off guard by the Greek announcement and some have announced that they will help cover the cost of the COVID-19 test to facilitate their travelers. Greece is one of the most popular spots for travel agencies.

CK Alexandria, for example, will cover the cost of a COVID-19 test up to 1,674 CZK, the maximum test amount set by the Ministry of Health. CK Čedok will also contribute 1,500 CZK towards a COVID-19 for trips purchased from August 17 onward. CK Fischer and Exim Tours will cover the full cost of the tests. However, in reality, some private practices and regional hospitals may charge more for testing and testing may not be readily available.

The Association of Travel Agencies of the Czech Republic (ACK) said on Wednesday that the COVID-19 tests have to be cheaper and loser to 500 CZK for most people to reasonably afford them. In addition, the association argued, the results should be available within 24 hours to make life easier for travelers.