Global travel restrictions broken down for anyone looking to book a ski holiday this winter

After two COVID-affected winters, skiers are itching to travel again. A recent survey of our readers found that 61% would travel to Japan for the 2021/22 winter if they were able, with a further 19% keen to get away but waiting for vaccinations or other measures that would make international travel safer.

With vaccination rates creeping up across the world and countries gradually opening up their borders to tourists again, the prospect of international ski holiday is once again very real. With that in mind, we’ve taken a look at the travel restrictions the top ski regions in Asia and the rest of the world in an effort to work out where we might actually be able to ski this winter.

Note that we’re not recommending travel to any particular region, we’re simply trying to address if it’s possible. Travel carries risks – not least in the middle of the global pandemic – and we will leave it up to you to make the assessment. And while we’ve tried to make this information as accurate as possible on the date it was published, we advise all readers to check with the relevant authorities ahead of your trip.

Is travel currently allowed for tourists?

Japan

Short answer: No

Many are waiting with bated breath to see if Japan will open its border to international travel ahead of winter. Unfortunately, for now, only Japanese nationals or foreigners with residence status or “special exceptional circumstances” are permitted entry.

In positive news, Japan’s COVID-19 cases have fallen dramatically since the peak of its third wave in August, and at the beginning of October, the country dropped its coronavirus state of emergency for the first time in six months.

There’s speculation that news on Japan’s reopening is likely to come after the election at the end of this month.

For up-to-date COVID-19 travel information for Japan, visit japan.travel/en/coronavirus/.

Best ski resorts in Japan for powder

South Korea

Short answer: If you’re from Singapore, yes. Otherwise no.

Singaporeans will be able to ski in South Korea this winter after the governments launched Vaccinated Travel Lanes that will come into effect on November 15, 2021. Travellers will need to provide proof of vaccination, a negative PCR test result and travel insurance for COVID-19 treatment. They must also fly on designated flights and receive a negative PCR test upon landing.

For everyone else, the news is less positive (for now). South Korea is currently not issuing visas for short-term travel (including tourism), only for work, investment or business purposes.

For up-to-date COVID-19 travel information for South Korea, visit english.visitkorea.or.kr/

High1 Ski Resort, Korea

China

Short answer: No

Unless you’re an Olympic athlete, the likelihood of a ski holiday in China this winter currently looks low.

According to Smartraveller, China has suspended all visas on arrival, including transit visas, and only foreign nationals who hold valid visas for work, personal matters or a reunion will be permitted to enter the country.

Even then, travellers are subject to strict (and ever-changing) testing requirements and must complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine period at a designated hotel or facility.

For up-to-date COVID-19 travel information for China, we suggest contacting your nearest Chinese consulate or embassy.

The Great Wall of China, Thaiwoo Ski Resort

India / Gulmarg

Short answer: Yes

Anyone who enjoyed our September feature on skiing in Gulmarg will be pleased to know that India is now open to fully vaccinated travellers and, as of October 25, no quarantine is required. You’ll need a rapid RT-PCR in your home country which will be checked prior to departure.

Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travellers can also enter India, but will be subject to a COVID-19 test on arrival, a 7-day quarantine period, and yet another COVID test on day eight.

For up-to-date COVID-19 travel information for India, we suggest contacting your nearest Indian consulate or embassy.

Skiing in Gulmarg

Image: skigulmarg.com

Iran

Short answer: Yes

The alpine landscape in Iran is breathtaking, and while it’s not most people’s bucket list, there is some very good skiing in resorts like Dizin, Darbandsar and Shemshak, located north of Tehran.

As of October 23 (following a 20-month ban on international tourism), travellers are permitted to enter the country with a negative PCR test at both your port of exit and entry. A positive test in Iran will require you to be quarantined in a government-managed facility at your own expense.

However, at the time of writing (October 26), the government’s E-VISA portal is still not allowing applications for tourist visas, though we expect this to be resolved soon.

For up-to-date COVID-19 travel information for Iran, we suggest contacting your nearest Iranian consulate or embassy.

Skiing in Iran

Image: Ski of Persia

North America

United States

Short answer: Yes

USA’s ban on travellers from a number of countries (including China, United Kingdom and countries in the European Schengen Region) is set to come to an end on November 8, following a recent announcement from White House coronavirus response coordinator, Jeff Zients.

Travellers will be able to enter the country provided they are vaccinated and have proof of a negative COVID test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19. Once in the country, you must comply with recommended CDC guidelines and wear masks in certain public venues.

For up-to-date COVID-19 travel information for the United States of America, visit cdc.gov/coronavirus.

Canada

Short answer: Yes

All fully vaccinated travellers are currently allowed to enter Canada, on a few conditions. You must be double vaccinated with a Canada-accepted COVID-19 vaccine and have received your second dose at least 14 full days before your arrival in Canada.

Travellers must also provide proof of a COVID-19 negative molecular test result (taken within 72 hours of departure) or proof of a positive test result taken between 14 and 180 days. You may also be subject to a mandatory randomised test on arrival.

Visitors must use Canada’s ArriveCAN portal to enter proof of vaccination, quarantine and travel information up to 72 hours before departure.

For up-to-date COVID-19 travel information for Canada, visit travel.gc.ca.

Europe

France

Short answer: Yes

France has opened its borders to fully vaccinated travellers with no restrictions linked to health conditions. You must provide proof that you have been vaccinated with a vaccine authorized by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and must also complete a sworn declaration stating that you have no symptoms of COVID-19 nor have been in contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days.

Unvaccinated travellers from listed “green” countries may also enter France for tourism, however upon boarding you must present a negative PCR or antigenic test taken less than 72 hours before the flight. If you have previously contracted COVID-19, then you may instead present a certificate of recovery (dated no more than 6 months prior to your departure).

For up-to-date COVID-19 travel information for France, visit diplomatie.gouv.fr.

Italy

Short answer: Yes, in most cases

Italy is in the process of updating travel requirements following the release of a new ordinance on October 22, 2021.

For up-to-date COVID-19 travel information for Italy, visit https://www.salute.gov.it.

Austria

Short answer: In most cases, yes.

All travellers entering Austria must show one of the following: a negative COVID test (PCR or antigen test), a vaccine certificate or proof of past infection.

Travellers coming from listed “safe countries”, which includes most European countries and some non-European countries, do not need to quarantine on arrival. You must have spent at least 10 days in one of these countries prior to your departure.

Travellers coming from listed “high epidemiological risk” countries are not permitted to travel in Austria for tourism purposes.

Travellers from all other countries can enter Austria, however those who present a negative COVID test (rather than proof of vaccination or past infection) will need to self-quarantine for 10 days.

For up-to-date COVID-19 travel information for Austria, visit austria.info/en/service-and-facts/coronavirus-information/entry-regulations.

Switzerland

Short answer: Yes

The most recent entry requirements for Switzerland came into effect on September 20, giving most travellers the option to present a COVID certificate showing proof of vaccination or recovery, or to present a negative test result. Those who choose to present the negative test result must also take a COVID test between four and seven days after arrival.

However, tourists coming from a designated “high risk” country must provide proof of vaccination with a recognised vaccine.

For up-to-date COVID-19 travel information for Switzerland, visit https://www.bag.admin.ch/.

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