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Travel to the USA Is Possible During COVID. All It Takes Is a Little Preparation.
Planning a trip to the United States during the era of COVID can seem like a daunting task. If you are hoping to visit the U.S. soon, it's important to stay on top of the restrictions and guidelines to keep your entry into the country as smooth as possible. This article will discuss some of the main requirements and restrictions that are currently in place regarding international travel to the USA.
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International Travel to the USA
International travel to the USA is no longer the easy trip it once was. If you’re considering a visit to the United States, there are a few things to consider. The first of which is, are you vaccinated? *Foreign national air travelers to the U.S. must be fully vaccinated in order to enter the country.
Additionally, *all inbound international air travelers to the U.S. (aged 2 or older) must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken one day prior to travel—regardless of vaccination status or citizenship.
Before booking any trip, consider what may happen if you’re exposed to COVID before or during your trip and what quarantine requirements are in place at your destination. Unlike many countries, COVID requirements in the U.S. vary from state to state (and in some regions, from county to county). With all that said, international travel to the U.S. from non-banned countries is still doable and enjoyable with a little planning and forethought.
*Information accurate as of January 2022.
Current U.S. Travel Bans
Any current U.S. travel bans are available on the CDC website, where information is updated on a regular basis. As requirements change due to COVID, we strongly recommend that prospective travelers keep a close eye on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Department of State websites for up-to-the-minute information.
U.S. International Travel Restrictions
Whether you are a foreign national visiting the United States or a U.S. citizen returning home from international travel, it's important to know what U.S. international travel restrictions are currently in place.
U.S. travel restrictions, like those of other countries, change as new information becomes available. That’s why it is advisable to stay on top of current guidelines as your departure date grows nearer. Below are some frequently asked questions that you may have as an international traveler:
- Do international travel restrictions apply to me when I am returning to the U.S. from a trip abroad?
Yes. International travel restrictions to the USA include stipulations for both international visitors and U.S. citizens, as outlined below. All USA entry requirements COVID necessitated must be followed, whether you are a citizen returning from international travel or a foreign national visiting the country. The State Department provides detailed information by country to assist you when planning your trip.
- What are the current United States travel restrictions in place for visitors and returning citizens?
The *current U.S. travel restrictions are that prior to boarding a flight to the United States, all inbound international air travelers aged 2 years or older must provide proof of a negative viral COVID-19 test taken within one day of the flight’s departure. This applies to all travelers (U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and foreign nationals) regardless of vaccination status.
Travelers who recently recovered from COVID-19 may instead provide documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days. According to the CDC, required documentation is a “positive COVID-19 viral test result on a sample taken no more than 90 days before the flight’s departure from a foreign country AND a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel.”
There is an additional vaccine requirement for foreign nationals traveling to the U.S. (see the following question and answer for details).
Keep in mind that masks are also required on flights and in airports.
- Will I need a COIVD vaccine to travel to the USA?
If you are a foreign national wondering, “Do I need to get a COVID-19 test before traveling to the United States?" the answer is yes. *All foreign national air travelers (non-immigrants and non-citizens) are required to be fully vaccinated and must provide their airline with proof of their vaccination status prior to boarding their flight to the United States.
Exceptions to this order are rare and may only apply to children under 18, travelers who are medically unable to get the vaccine, and emergency travelers who do not have timely access to the vaccine.
This online assessment from the CDC website can provide further insight into the COVID travel requirements that you must meet in order to travel to the United States.
- Which vaccine is approved for international travel?
COVID vaccine travel restrictions require that foreign international air travelers to the U.S. be fully vaccinated with the necessary number of doses of the following approved vaccines:
- Janssen / Johnson & Johnson (J&J)
If you do not see your vaccine listed above, you will not be allowed to enter the United States. Anyone with specific questions regarding a vaccine that is not included on this list is advised to contact the U.S. Embassy located in their home country for more information.
- How soon can I travel after my COVID vaccine?
The COVID vaccine is considered active 14 days from the date it was administered. Check the CDC website for more detailed information on how the 14-day period is calculated.
- If you are vaccinated, can you travel without a COVID test?
No. As mentioned above, all inbound international air travelers aged 2 years or older must provide proof of a negative viral COVID-19 test taken within one day of the flight’s departure—regardless of vaccination status or citizenship.
- Does the government require you to stay home for 14 days after traveling?
CDC travel quarantine guidelines and current coronavirus travel restrictions can be confusing when it comes to quarantine requirements. While there is no official requirement currently in place, the CDC does recommend that travelers receive a COVID test 3-5 days after entry to the U.S. and advises self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms. As of January 2022, there were no required quarantine periods for either visitors to the country or returning citizens. It is advisable to check for updated information prior to travel.
- Do travel restrictions vary based on where you are traveling within the U.S.?
Yes, they can. In addition to federal entry requirements, individual states, territories, counties, and cities may have their own requirements like wearing a mask, providing proof of vaccination, testing, or quarantine requirements. Prior to traveling, check your destination’s state and local health department website for details regarding travel requirements.
*Information accurate as of January 2022
Travel to U.S. from Europe
Can Europeans travel to the USA now? If you are considering travel to the U.S. from Europe, you will want to stay abreast of all federal restrictions and requirements. Currently, there are no U.S. travel restrictions European citizens must adhere to other than the vaccine and testing requirements for all foreign international air travelers discussed above. Similarly, UK to U.S. travel restrictions have also been lifted as of December 2021.
A question frequently asked by European travelers is, "Will I be quarantined if I travel to the United States?” The short answer is no, as the CDC has not implemented any quarantine requirements for foreign travelers at this time.
However, it is recommended by the CDC that travelers arriving in the United States undergo a COVID test within the first 3-5 days of arrival. It is also recommended that travelers self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms. If you develop symptoms, it’s recommended to isolate and get tested.
Non-U.S. citizens, non-U.S. immigrants traveling to the U.S. from Europe can review the CDC’s guide for traveling for more details on what to do before, during, and after travel to the U.S.. U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, lawful permanent residents, and immigrants traveling from Europe can view this CDC guide for traveling (or returning home) to the U.S. for more information.
U.S. Travel Restrictions India
Can tourists travel to the USA now? Yes—the U.S. travel ban from India was lifted as announced in November 2021. Currently, all travelers from India, and all foreign countries, will be required to show proof of vaccination as well as produce a negative COVID test taken within one day of departure to the U.S.
U.S. travel restrictions for India include other issues such as general safety. There are regions of India that are considered areas of concern by the U.S. Department of State. United States citizens traveling to India should be aware of unrest in the following areas and avoid them:
- The union territory of Jammu and Kashmir due to terrorism and civil unrest
- Within 10 km of the India-Pakistan border due to the potential for armed conflict
U.S. Travel Restrictions by State
It’s important to be aware that the United States may have travel restrictions by state that differ from the federal guidelines. Further, it's not just U.S. travel restrictions by state that foreign travelers need to worry about, as many cities and counties have enacted their own guidelines. It is highly recommended that travelers keep an eye on federal guidelines via the CDC and U.S. Department of State websites, as well as city and county-level restrictions.
One example relates to the Californian city of Los Angeles as well as the County of Los Angeles, which have instilled a mask mandate that can change based on where you are in the city or county. In Colorado, Boulder and Denver counties are two examples of areas within the state that are under more stringent mask or proof of vaccination requirements, unlike other areas of the state. In New York City, restaurant patrons are required to show proof of vaccination prior to being permitted to dine indoors. And several states, such as Florida and Texas, have no restrictions at all.
It is strongly advisable that you check the information for not only the United States but also the state, city, and county that you will be visiting prior to your arrival.
CDC International Travel Guidelines
CDC international travel guidelines are a fantastic resource for anyone who is planning to visit the United States—or for citizens who will soon return from overseas travel. The CDC requires or recommends that all travelers:
- Get fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to travel to the United States (this is required of all foreign air travelers)
- Take a negative COVID test within one day of your departure (this is required of all international air travelers regardless of vaccination status or citizenship)
- Wear a face mask covering your mouth and nose while in transit to the U.S. and while in any airport in the United States (this is required in all airports and on all airlines)
- Get a COVID test within 3-5 days of arrival and limit interaction with others during the first seven days in the U.S. (recommended)
- Keep abreast of all travel guidance changes via the CDC or the U.S. Department of State websites (recommended)
- Remember that states, cities, and counties may have their own COVID-related restrictions in place which could be more stringent than the federal guidelines (recommended)
- Postpone or cancel any non-essential travel (recommended)
There is a lot to keep track of when traveling during COVID, but when the right precautions are taken, safer travel is possible. Taking the time to research and understand COVID travel restrictions can help make your trip go smoothly.
As the date of your departure grows closer, be sure to frequently check the CDC and U.S. Department of State websites. As we all know, when dealing with this pandemic, restrictions and guidelines can change quite quickly. Safe travels!
Be Sure to Explore These Related Resources:
- Types of Travel Documents for Entering and Departing the U.S.
- Visitor Visa Documents for USA
- How to Obtain a Visitor Visa for the U.S. from India
- Should I Get Travel Health Insurance for My Trip Abroad?
- USA Visitor Health Insurance
- Visitor Health Insurance for Parents
- Here's What Travel Advisories Mean for Your International Trip
- Guide to Transportation in the U.S.
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