- The U.S. is launching a new travel system on Nov. 8.
- Vaccinated foreign air travelers will need to show proof of full vaccination and test for COVID-19.
- The new travel system also adds more stringent testing requirements for unvaccinated U.S. travelers.
The United States is about to make it much easier for vaccinated international travelers to visit.
The White House announced that a new air travel system will take effect Nov. 8, allowing entry for fully vaccinated foreign tourists. The system is set to launch nearly two years after the U.S. began imposing travel restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The move by the White House will essentially have the U.S. drop its travel ban on dozens of countries while also making entry more challenging for the unvaccinated. The new system will allow entry for foreign nationals only with vaccinations approvedfor emergency use by the World Health Organization and would add testing requirements for unvaccinated Americans.
Here’s what we know about the new travel requirements:
What are the entry requirements for foreign nationals?
Starting Nov. 8,non-citizen, non-immigrant air travelers will need to show proof of full vaccination as well as a pre-departure negative coronavirus test taken within three days of travel before they can board a plane to the U.S.
The U.S. will accept nucleic acid amplification tests, including PCR tests, and antigen tests. The rules will go into effect for passengers on planes leaving for the U.S. at or after 12:01 a.m. ET on Nov. 8.
Airlines will collect basic personal contact information from all U.S.-bound travelers for contact tracing. Airlines are required to keep the information on hand so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can reach out to travelers who may have been infected or exposed to COVID-19.
Masking will be required, but there will be no quarantine mandate.
► US travel bans:How COVID-19 travel restrictions have impacted families and couples
The change will make entering the U.S. possible for travelers from countries now listed on the U.S. travel ban, which prohibits entry for travelers who have been in any of the regions within the past 14 days. The travel ban took effect in early 2020 and includes:
- United Kingdom
- Republic of Ireland
- South Africa
- The European Schengen area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City)
Currently, the U.S. asks international air passengers only to get tested within three days of their flight to the U.S. and show either the negative test result or proof of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding.
What about the land borders with Mexico and Canada?
New travel rules will also take effect for foreign nationals arriving by land or passenger ferry.
Starting Nov. 8, fully vaccinated foreign nationals can cross the land borders for nonessential reasons such as tourism or visiting friends and family. Entry rules along the border will change again in early January, with all travelers – including those traveling for essential purposes – required to show proof of full vaccination.
Foreign travelers will be able to show vaccination status in either a paper or digital format, and U.S. Customers and Border Protection will spot-check travelers’ vaccination documents. Foreign nationals will also need appropriate travel documentation to enter the country.
More details on the land border restrictions are expected to be announced in the coming days.
Which vaccines does the US accept for travel?
The CDC has announced that vaccines approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and World Health Organization will be accepted for air travel. White House officials expect the CDC to approve the same vaccines for travelers entering the U.S. by land or ferry.
The FDA has authorized three COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use during the pandemic: Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer-BioNTech, the last of which has received the FDA’s full stamp of approval.
Vaccines with WHO approval for emergency useinclude:
- Johnson & Johnson
The CDC confirmed that it would accept a mix-and-match approach to vaccinations. Travelers who have any combination of FDA- or WHO-approved vaccines will be considered fully vaccinated.
The new travel policy does not accept foreign travelers who have had COVID and received just one shot in a two-dose series. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that the administration will “continue to review” its entry requirements.
► ‘You feel lonely and left out’:These fully vaccinated travelers want to visit the US. They may not be allowed in.
How do the new rules affect kids?
Foreign nationals under 18 are exempt from the vaccination requirement. Children under two will not need to take a pre-departure COVID test.
Kids 2 and older traveling with a fully vaccinated adult can test three days prior to departure, while children traveling alone or with unvaccinated adults will need to get tested within one day of departure.
Currently, all air passengers 2 or older, including U.S. citizens and permanent residents, need to show a negative coronavirus test to fly to the U.S.
What are the entry requirements for Americans?
The new travel system adds more stringent testing requirements for unvaccinated U.S. travelers.
Starting Nov. 8, unvaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents will need to take a test one day before departure and test again upon arrival in the U.S.
Entry requirements will not change for vaccinated Americans. They will still need to show proof of a negative coronavirus test taken no more than three days before departure.
Americans will not need to be fully vaccinated to board international flights to the U.S.
Are there any exemptions?
There is a limited set of travelers who are exempt from the vaccine requirement for entry.
Children under 18, certain COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participants and travelers with adverse reactions to the vaccines – such as people who have had severe anaphylactic allergic reactions to a prior COVID-19 vaccine – will be exempt.
People traveling on non-tourist visas from countries with less than 10% of its population vaccinated who need to enter the U.S. for emergency or humanitarian reasons are also exempt from the vaccine requirement. There are about 50 countries considered to have low vaccine availability at this time.
These exempt travelers will generally need to show that they will comply with public health mandates, including a requirement to be vaccinated in the U.S. if they plan to stay more than 60 days.
The CDC will not give exemptions to people who object the vaccinations due to religious or moral convictions.
There will also be testing accommodations for travelers who can prove they recently recovered from the coronavirus. These travelers will need to show a positive COVID-19 viral test result on a sample taken no more than 90 days before their flight’s departure and a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or public health official saying they are cleared for travel.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz.