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In Mexico I can get KN95 and N95 masks, but FFP2 masks are only showing up as an import from the US and will probably arrive a day or two after I fly.

Are KN95 and N95 masks considered equivalent in Belgium and Italy?

I see references to FFP2 and to FFP2 Like masks, but I'm not finding anything that says they are legally interchangeable.

I'm assuming it's permissible to swap the masks mid-flight since we will be aloft for 13 hours and the masks aren't rated for that long, so I was planning to do the switch out about six hours into the flight.

This question is about the legality, being denied service or the right to board the flight. I'm assuming once I get into Italy, getting FFP2 will be super simple, but I have to get there first.

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    On all flights I have been on since Covid started (6 total) taking off the mask for drinking or eating was allowed. While you probably shouldn't be snacking for the entire duration of the flight, it's certainly a good way to take a few "mask breaks".
    – Sabine
    May 10 at 16:34
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    Less worried about mask breaks that having a mask that is useful and effective.
    – boatcoder
    May 10 at 16:46
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    Is your concern whether they will be considered "legally" equivalent as to fulfill local requirements in Belgium and Italy, or are you wondering if they are "actually"/"materially" equivalent for your own or other's protection or some other measure? May 10 at 17:06
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    On the flights I've taken to Europe recently they recommend that you change masks after no more than 4 hours. And you take them off for eating/drinking. May 11 at 5:34
  • Interest only: KF94 are the Korean standard. They are very similar in spec to the other top quality masks - with a few practical advantages over some others. The answers relating to XN95 probably also largely apply to them. || I've found that an informal but useful test with a suspect mask is to see how well it removes smells in a high odour environment. The KF8=94 do this superbly. May 18 at 8:13

3 Answers 3

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Although the FFP2, N95 and KN95 standards are very similar, it is worth to notice that they are not equivalent.

As far as I understand the Italian legislation, it does require you to wear an FFP2 approved mask. The N95 and KN95 standards are not mentioned in the legislation, so strictly speaking, such masks will not fulfill the legal requirements. In reality, I doubt that anyone will actually verify which classification your mask has, as long as it looks like an FFP2 mask (and N95/KN95-masks do so). FFP2 masks are readily available in many shops, so if you do not want to stretch the rules more than necessary, I would at least advice you to buy FFP2 masks after getting there.

In Belgium, using an FFP2 mask is currently only recommended and not required, so using a N95/KN95 mask there will not be a problem.

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KN95 is a Chinese standard that is a very little bit looser than the EU standard FFP2.

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    @mdewey The question was (in part) "Is KN95 equivalent to FFP2?". How is an answer "no, KN95 is laxer" not an answer to the question? May 11 at 14:30
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    @MartinBonnersupportsMonica Even if it is an attempt to answer, the statement is not correct. The KN95 standard is different from, but not necessarily looser than FFP2. Since the filtering capabilities are defined under different conditions, the standards can't be directly compared (in the sense of stricter/looser). The specifications are however so similar, that when it comes to preventing the spread of covid, they can for all practical purposes be considered close enough that the differences are irrelevant. May 11 at 15:37
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    All this assumes any KN95 mask actually complies with the KN95 standard. I doubt it, China doesn't care about quality of exports, so when you see a China only mark like China Export or KN95, it's junk. (China Export is visually identical to the European CE mark. Clever.) May 12 at 0:37
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    @Harper Apparently the China Export thing is a hoax. (Good point on the actual standard compliance though.) May 12 at 9:52
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    In any event, due to blatant and widespread self-certification fraud, the CE mark actually stands for Chinese Excrement. May 12 at 15:15
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Anecdotal: I've travelled a lot to Europe during Covid including Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Czech Republic, UK, etc. I've only used KN 95 masks since be bought a huge box early in the Pandemic and FFP2 were hard to get in the US.

I've never had a single problem or even just a question with that.

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  • This is the correct answer. In practice no one cares, especially now in 2022 when masks are only a thing in a very small number of countries.
    – JonathanReez
    May 12 at 21:33
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    At the beginning of 2022 a friend was not allowed on a plane in Italy with KN95 mask. Switching to N95 solved the issue. So if it didn't happen to someone, does not mean it won't happen to anyone.
    – dragi
    May 13 at 6:22
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    @dragi early 2022 was during the peak of the Omicron variant and was pretty much the last time anyone seriously cared about the virus. In summer 2022 the situation is radically different.
    – JonathanReez
    May 14 at 7:48

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