USA Entry Requirements and Travel Restrictions During COVID

USA Entry Requirements: What to Know When Travelling During COVID-19

Here’s everything you need to know about visiting the United States.

From the towering skyscrapers of New York City to the golden coastlines of California, the United States of America boasts more than enough epic sights and staggering landscapes to leave any visitor awestruck. Since 8 Nov 2021, the USA has lifted travel restrictions and is now open for tourism — effectively ending the travel ban for 33 countries, including  China, the United Kingdom, and European Union countries. 

The USA has also lightened the entry requirements to make it easier for fully vaccinated travellers to visit the country. Here is a list of everything you need to know about USA travel requirements, including vaccine guidelines and safety protocols during COVID-19. 

United States travel overview 

Vaccination status 

As of 25 Nov 2021, 59% of America’s total population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Who can travel to the USA during COVID-19? 

USA Entry Requirements and Travel Restrictions During COVID-19

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All fully vaccinated foreign travellers and non-immigrant, non-U.S. citizen travellers — regardless of citizenship — can enter the United States, as long as they show proof of vaccination and present a negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than one day before their flight departs. 

Unvaccinated international travellers will not be allowed to board their flight to the USA, unless they meet the criteria for exemptions listed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) here

Image credit: CDC Official Website

For a quick rundown of the entry requirements to visit the USA from a foreign country, refer to the step-by-step flowchart above. To determine what else you need before your flight to the United States, this Travel Assessment may also prove useful.

Pre-arrival documents required for travel to the USA

All international travellers should prepare the following entry requirements before visiting the USA: 

1. Proof of vaccination 

International travellers must show acceptable proof of full vaccination as listed here. The CDC website includes the following examples of valid documentation: 

  • Vaccination certificate with QR code
  • Digital pass via Smartphone application with QR code (ex. European Union Digital COVID Certificate) 
  • Printout of a COVID-19 vaccination record or a COVID-19 vaccination certificate issued at the national or sub-national level or by an authorised vaccine provider 
  • Digital photos of vaccination card or record, downloaded vaccine record, or vaccination certificate from an official source (ex. government agency, public health agency, or other authorised vaccine providers) 

The United States accepts all FDA-approved and authorised vaccines for travel, including vaccines with an Emergency Use Listing (EUL) from the World Health Organization (WHO). To be considered fully vaccinated, your last vaccine dose must have been administered 14 days before the day of your flight. 

Children under the age of 18 are exempted from showing proof of vaccination. For more information about vaccine exemptions and other categories that meet the CDC’s exemption criteria, read here

2. Negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery 

International travellers must show proof of a negative COVID-19 viral test result (ex. RT-PCR test and antigen test) that was taken no more than one day before their departure. This requirement will be checked by the airline. 

Individuals who have recently recovered from COVID-19 can opt to present documentation of recovery from COVID-19. The CDC defines this requirement as “a positive COVID-19 viral test result taken no more than 90 days before the flight’s departure and a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel.” 

Children between the ages of two and 17 are required to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test before boarding their flight. Children under two years old, however, do not need to take a COVID-19 test.

3. Contact information for contact tracing purposes

All international travellers will be required to provide their contact information to airlines for contact tracing. This will allow U.S. federal and health departments to keep air passengers safe and identify those who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Arrival 

United States

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Fully vaccinated travellers are not required to quarantine upon arrival in the USA. 

Arriving passengers who are not fully vaccinated but are eligible to travel to the USA through the CDC’s exempted categories should follow these travel requirements: 

  • Take a COVID-19 test within three to five days of their arrival in the USA
  • Self-quarantine for seven days after they arrive in the USA, even if they test negative for COVID-19 
  • Become fully vaccinated as soon as medically appropriate, or within 60 days of their arrival in the USA (if they are staying for 60 days or longer) 

Regardless of vaccination status, international travellers who can provide documentation of recovery from COVID-19 infection within the past 90 days will not need to take a COVID-19 test three to five days after they arrive in the USA.

During the stay  

Travel to the USA During COVID-19: Entry Requirements

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Visitors in the United States are generally not required to wear masks in outdoor areas. However, masks should still be worn in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports, as well as indoor areas of public transportation when you are travelling in planes, buses, and trains.

The CDC also advises that people wear a mask in indoor public places if they have weakened immune systems or they are visiting destinations with high numbers of COVID-19 cases. 

If you are travelling domestically within the USA, keep in mind that the quarantine requirements and safety protocols vary depending on the state you visit. Businesses may also have different guidelines when it comes to wearing a mask in indoor venues such as restaurants and cafes. 

Check out this resource for the COVID-19 travel guidelines of each region. 

Also read: UK Travel Restrictions: All You Need to Know Before Visiting 

Return travel 

USA Travel and Entry Requirements: What to Know When Travelling During COVID-19

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Aside from these USA travel requirements, it’s important to know the entry requirements for when you return to your country of origin. Make sure to check with your respective airline and official tourism office for the documents you’ll need to bring for your return trip.

Visit the official websites of the CDC and the U.S. Department of State — Bureau of Consular Affairs for more details about USA entry requirements, tourist visa information, and travel restrictions by state. 


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About Author

Tiffany Conde
Tiffany Conde

Tiffany is a writer who covers travel, food, shopping, and pop culture. She has a soft spot for stories about Japan and Italy. While she waits patiently for her next adventure, she enjoys writing about the coolest places to stay around the world and where to find them.

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