Latest U.S. Travel Rules And Restrictions

Here’s the latest on travel to and from the United States, including quarantine requirements, testing and rules for foreign countries. We’ll update this page with information as we get it. 


Report: Biden Administration to Require Stricter Testing Requirements For Travelers to U.S.

On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported the Biden administration is planning to roll out stricter Covid-19 test requirements for travelers entering the U.S.

The new rules, which could be announced as soon as Thursday, will require all visitors to get a Covid test one day before boarding their flight.

Currently, anyone age 2 and older entering the United States must get a Covid-19 test within three days of their departure, or show proof that they’ve recovered from Covid-19 within the previous 90 days.

The requirements vary depending on your vaccination status:

  • If fully vaccinated, you must get tested within three days of your departure for the U.S.
  • If not fully vaccinated, you must get a Covid test no more than ONE day before your departure to the U.S.

If you’re visiting the U.S. and you’re not a U.S. citizen or resident, you can’t travel to the U.S. if you’re unvaccinated, with extremely limited exceptions.

The Biden administration is also considering implementing a 7-day self-quarantine for all visitors, including U.S. citizens and permanent residents, according to the Post report.

U.S. to Expand Covid Surveillance Program at 4 Major U.S. Airports

On Tuesday, top U.S. health officials announced they would expand Covid testing for specific international arrivals at four major U.S. airports to better identify travelers with Covid-19

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport
  • Newark Liberty International Airport
  • San Francisco International Airport

On Wednesday, the U.S. announced it had recorded its first case of the Omicron variant. A person in California tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from a trip to South Africa on Nov. 22, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Japan Latest Country to Close Its Borders to Foreign Travelers

On Monday, Japan became the latest country to ban foreign non-citizen travelers from entering, joining Israel and Morocco. The new restrictions kicked in on Nov. 30.

The ban includes students on educational travel. If you’re one of the few foreign travelers who’s permitted to enter Japan, you must quarantine for 14 days in a hotel, at home or at a private residence, subject to approval from the Japanese government.

Read more: Best Pandemic Travel Insurance

Travel Restricted from 8 African Countries Starting Nov. 29

In response to the emergence of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, the Biden administration announced that starting on Nov. 29, it would restrict travel from eight African countries:

  • Botswana
  • Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland)
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • South Africa

You won’t be able to enter the U.S. if you’ve been in any of these countries within the previous 14 days before you attempt to enter the U.S. The order doesn’t have an end date.

The travel ban doesn’t apply if you’re a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or fall into certain categories, including:

  • You’re a noncitizen U.S. national
  • You’re married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • You’re a parent, legal guardian or sibling of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is unmarried and under 21 years of age

If you travel from one of these countries to the U.S., you’ll be subject to the rules of the CDC order as outlined by the Biden Administration:

  • If you’re a U.S. citizen or resident and you’re fully vaccinated (defined here by the CDC), you’ll need to provide proof of vaccination before boarding your plane. Some airlines may require proof of vaccination AND a negative Covid-19 test. You should check with your airline or departure airport to learn their policies.
  • If you aren’t fully vaccinated, you’ll need to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 viral test, or documentation showing you have recovered from Covid-19. This applies for any traveler aged over 2.

What Counts as Proof of Vaccination for Travel?

If you’re fully vaccinated, you must provide proof of vaccination for travel. This proof must tick the following boxes:

  • It’s issued by an official source (e.g. the CDC)
  • It shows your name and date of birth
  • It shows the vaccine you received, and the date(s) for all the doses you received

Acceptable forms of proof include:

  • A paper vaccination certificate
  • A printout of a Covid-19 vaccination record
  • A vaccination certificate with a QR code
  • A digital pass via a smartphone app (e.g. the EU’s digital Covid certificate)
  • A digital photo of a vaccination card or record
  • A downloaded version of a vaccination card or record from an official source
  • A mobile phone app without a QR code

Only certain vaccines are accepted for entry into the U.S. These are:

  • AstraZeneca
  • BIBP/Sinopharm
  • Covaxin
  • Covishield
  • Janssen/Johnson & Johnson
  • Moderna
  • Pfizer/BioNTech
  • Sinovac

Do I Need To Get a Covid Test Before I Enter the United States?

Yes. Anyone entering the United States who is aged 2 and older must get a Covid-19 test within three days of their departure, or show proof that they’ve recovered from Covid-19 within the previous 90 days. This applies whether you’re a visitor or a U.S. citizen or resident. Your airline must confirm the negative test result or proof of recovery.

The rules on testing vary depending on whether or not you’re vaccinated (reminder: If you’re visiting the U.S. and you’re not a U.S. citizen or resident, you can’t travel to the U.S. if you’re unvaccinated, with extremely limited exceptions).

  • If fully vaccinated, you must get tested within three days of your departure for the U.S.
  • If not fully vaccinated, you must get a viral test no more than ONE day before your departure to the U.S.

You must get a viral Covid-19 test (e.g. a PCR test)—a negative antibody test won’t be accepted as proof.

If you test positive for Covid-19, you won’t be able to board a flight to the U.S.

Should I Get Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance can be a valuable safety net in any year, but especially when travel uncertainties are high. With travel rules changing daily across the globe because of the Omicron variant, you can protect your trip investment with the right travel insurance.

Standard trip cancellation insurance can reimburse you 100% of your non-refundable trip costs for many common problems such as illness, injury, family emergencies and hurricanes.

 

But when Covid has the potential to cause additional hurdles, consider “cancel for any reason” travel insurance. This upgrade allows you to cancel the trip for a reason not listed under standard trip cancellation and receive partial reimbursement, usually 75% of trip costs.

For example, you could make a claim under “cancel for any reason” coverage because of a border closing or because you don’t want to do a mandatory quarantine upon arrival. Or maybe you don’t like the Covid testing requirements of your destination, or you simply think it’s the wrong time to be traveling.

“Cancel for any reason” insurance generally adds an average of 50% to your travel insurance cost and must be purchased within two to three weeks of your initial trip deposit (deadlines depend on the plan), so don’t miss the purchase window if you’re interested in buying it.

If you’re buying travel insurance, it’s also wise to make sure your plan includes Covid-related medical coverage. Even if you’re fully vaccinated, travel medical insurance within a plan can pick up medical costs—up to the policy limits—no matter where you are in the world. Look for at least $150,000 in medical coverage per person in a pandemic travel insurance plan.

With a combination of travel medical insurance and a “cancel for any reason” upgrade, you can be armed with broad protection and better enjoy your trip.

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