Everything International Travelers Need to Know About Planning a Trip to the US

The travel ban blocking international visitors from visiting the U.S. is ending

Crowds of people crossing street on zebra crossing in New York, USA
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The United States is launching new coronavirus travel guidelines that will reopen the borders to millions of visitors from overseas—ending the travel bans put into place more than 18 months ago at the beginning of the pandemic.

Since March 2020, travelers from more than 30 countries have been blocked from entering the U.S., including those from countries within the European Union, the United Kingdom, China, Brazil, and India. But now, fully vaccinated travelers from around the world can finally return to the U.S.

The new rules go into effect on Nov. 8, 2021, just in time for families and friends to reunite for the holiday season.

“What we’ve done here is to tighten up and make travel safer, allowing more people to enter the country, taking down travel bans from certain countries, and making it more equitable and requiring a layered approach,” said Dr. Cindy Friedman, chief of the Traveler’s Health Branch for the Centers for Disease Control, in a press briefing.

International Travelers Coming to the U.S.

Before boarding a plane to the U.S., international travelers must be fully vaccinated and will be required to submit proof of vaccination to the airline. Depending on which country you were vaccinated in, you can use your country’s COVID passport or certificate to prove your vaccine status. The CDC says accepted vaccines include Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and J&J—all the vaccines authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization.

You’ll also need a negative COVID-19 test, taken within three days of your flight. Children traveling with vaccinated parents or guardians can visit the U.S., but all kids over 2 must show a negative COVID-19 test.

There are a few rare exceptions that allow unvaccinated adult travelers to enter the U.S. This includes medical exemptions for conditions like allergies, which would require a physician’s note to the airline documenting why a traveler can’t get vaccinated.

Unvaccinated travelers from certain countries with limited access to the vaccine can also come to the U.S. Right now, the CDC lists around 50 countries that fall into this category, including Armenia, Egypt, Haiti, and Nigeria.

Any unvaccinated travelers entering the U.S. must provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 24 hours of their flight and need to quarantine for seven days once they arrive.

Americans Coming Back to the U.S. 

Americans returning to the U.S. also need to provide COVID-19 tests before getting on the plane—either taken within 72 hours for vaccinated travelers or within 24 hours for unvaccinated travelers.

Regardless of nationality or vaccination status, everyone will have to provide contact details for contact tracing to attempt to track down and isolate any positive cases.

“Our message to potential travelers is: be fully vaccinated before you travel; get a COVID test before arriving here; comply with all public health measures, including masking and social distancing; and make sure you understand the new requirements before making travel plans,” said Douglass Benning, the principal deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Consular Affairs, in a press briefing.

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