USA Travel Requirements: What to Know When Visiting During COVID-19

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

Start planning your trip to the United States with this easy guide.

It’s no secret that the United States of America boasts more than enough epic sights and staggering landscapes to leave any visitor awestruck; whether it’s the towering skyscrapers of New York City, the golden coastlines of California, or the evergreen naturescapes of Colorado and Washington. Since 8 Nov 2021, the USA has lifted travel restrictions and is now open for tourism. 

Read on for everything you need to know about USA travel requirements, including vaccine guidelines and safety protocols during COVID-19.

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Also read: Italy Travel Restrictions: All You Need to Know to Plan Your Visit

United States entry requirements 

All fully vaccinated foreign 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. Those who have been infected with COVID-19 must show proof of recovery within the past 90 days. 

Unvaccinated international travellers will not be allowed to board their flight to the USA. However, exemptions are made for children below the age of 18, as well as others who meet the criteria by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) here

For a quick rundown of the entry requirements to visit the USA from a foreign country, refer to the step-by-step flowchart below.

Image credit: CDC Official Website

Pre-arrival documents for travel to the USA

All international travellers should prepare the following USA travel requirements before their trip: 

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 will be checked by the airline before boarding. 

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.

To determine what else you need before your flight to the United States, this Travel Assessment may also prove useful.

4. Passport

Must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay

5. Valid visa (if applicable)

Depending on your passport, you might need a tourist visa to travel to the USA.

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Arrival 

Fully vaccinated travellers will neither need to take an on-arrival test nor quarantine upon arrival

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.

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Singapore – USA VTL travel requirements

Singapore currently maintains a Vaccinated Travel Lane with the USA, which allows quarantine-free travel between the two countries. US VTL flights are operational in Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. On 28 Mar 2022, VTL flights will commence between Changi Airport and New York: specifically, John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport.

There are no special USA travel requirements for VTL travellers from Singapore. However, you will have to take note of the requirements for those entering Singapore via VTL.

Also read: VTL Destinations Guide: List of Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lanes

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During your stay

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. 

usa travel requirements

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If you are travelling domestically within the USA, keep in mind that travel requirements and health 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 and state. 

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

With the United States open for tourism, click here to get started with some travel inspiration.


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About Authors

Tiffany Conde
Tiffany Conde

Tiffany wrote articles on travel, food, and pop culture for TripZilla from 2019 to 2021. While she plans her next adventure, she enjoys writing about the coolest places to stay around the world and where to find them.

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Marcy Miniano
Marcy Miniano

A fast-talking caffeine-dependent wordsmith, Marcy has never been one to shy away from sharing a good story or two. If she’s not in a quiet coffee shop somewhere, she enjoys spending afternoons in a museum or art gallery — whether it’s around Metro Manila or a foreign city she’s visiting. She wishes to retire in a winter village someday, so she can fulfil her lifelong dream of wearing turtlenecks all year round and owning a pet penguin.

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