Just in time for the holidays, the U.S. government plans to lift the COVID-19 travel ban. On November 8, 2021, international travelers from all countries may once again travel to the United States. Certain air travelers must provide proof they are fully vaccinated for COVID-19, or that they meet an exception to the requirement.  All air travelers must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or recovery from COVID-19.  The government has also updated its rules for travelers entering the U.S. by land and ferry.

Individuals Traveling to the U.S. by Air:

  • Vaccination Requirements for Travelers Holding Temporary Status: Travelers entering the U.S. in temporary status must show proof of vaccination to airlines before boarding a flight. Individuals are considered fully vaccinated if it has been more than two weeks since they received the final dose of an approved vaccine series.

The government will only accept certain vaccines as proof of full vaccination. As of this writing, the list of vaccines approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) includes: Moderna, Janssen/Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca/Covishield, BIBP/Sinopharm, and Sinovac.  The list of approved vaccines may expand over time.

Proof of vaccination should be a paper or digital record issued by an official source. It should include the traveler’s name and date of birth (which should match the traveler’s passport), vaccine product, and date each dose was administered.

  • Exceptions to the Vaccination Requirement:
    • U.S. citizens and green card holders
    • All children under 18 years old
    • Certain COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participants
    • Individuals with medical contraindications, with proof from a doctor
    • Individuals entering the U.S. for emergency, humanitarian, or national interest reasons, as determined by the government
    • Individuals who are traveling on non-tourist visas from countries with low vaccine availability, as determined by the CDC
    • Members of the U.S. armed forces and their families, diplomats and government travelers, and crewmembers

Adult unvaccinated travelers who will stay in the U.S. for more than 60 days must attest they will become fully vaccinated for COVID-19 within 60 days of arrival, unless the traveler meets an exception.

  • Testing Requirements for ALL Travelers by Air: All travelers from outside the U.S. ages 2 and older must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to travel.  Vaccinated travelers must continue to test negative for COVID-19 within 3 days of travel. Unvaccinated travelers over age 18 must test negative for COVID-19 within one day of travel.  Travelers who have recovered from COVID-19 within 3 months of travel may instead show proof of the positive test result and a letter from a healthcare provider or public health official.

If an unvaccinated child under age 18 travels with a fully vaccinated adult, the testing requirement for vaccinated travelers applies to the child as well. If an unvaccinated child travels alone or with unvaccinated adults, the testing requirement for unvaccinated travelers applies to the child.

Individuals Entering the U.S. by Land or Ferry:

  • November 8, 2021 until January 2022: Adult travelers entering the U.S. in temporary status via a U.S. land port of entry or ferry terminal should have proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Unvaccinated travelers over age 18 should have evidence that their travel is essential for medical, work, educational, humanitarian, public health, government, or other purposes. Unvaccinated travelers attempting to enter the U.S. for tourism may be refused entry.
  • Starting January 2022: Beginning January 2022, all adult travelers entering the United States in temporary status via land borders and ferry terminals must have proof of COVID-19 vaccination. This requirement does not apply to children under age 18.  The government may announce additional exceptions to this rule as the January 2022 effective date approaches.

We are thrilled that this new development will allow families to reunite and employees to return to work!  The government’s guidance on documentation and testing requirements and exceptions is complex.  Contact our office to discuss your international travel questions with our experienced attorneys, so you can travel internationally with confidence.