Are you planning to travel to the United States in the near future? If so, consider that the ongoing pandemic has led the U.S. government to implement new restrictive measures for entering its territory. But don't worry, armed with the right information you should have no problem! We've prepared the following guide covering the latest guidelines so that you’re ready for takeoff.
Guidelines for Foreign Travelers to the U.S.
President Joe Biden recently signed an executive order to limit air entry of foreign nationals into the United States based on their COVID-19 vaccination status. The White House released a new plan to combat the Delta and Omicron variants of COVID-19 during the winter months, which went into effect on December 6, 2021.
Based on the information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we can divide the government's instructions into those directed at vaccinated travelers and those focused on unvaccinated travelers.
Before boarding a plane to the United States, any foreign national fully vaccinated against COVID-19 must meet the following requirements to enter the country:
- Present a document proving that you already have a complete vaccination schedule
- Take a COVID-19 test one day before the flight and present the negative result to the airline staff before boarding
- Fill out and submit an attestation before boarding the plane
- Wear a mask covering nose and mouth at the airport and throughout the flight
Which vaccines are accepted?
Below you’ll find a list of the vaccines accepted for travel as authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO):
- Janssen / Johnson & Johnson
Which vaccines are not accepted?
The U.S. government doesn’t accept the following vaccines:
- Sputnik V
What’s a complete immunization schedule?
According to the CDC, a person is considered to have a complete immunization schedule — fully vaccinated — when:
- It has been 14 days since you received a dose of an accepted single-dose vaccine
- It has been 14 days since you received the second dose of an accepted 2-dose vaccine
- It has been 14 days since you have completed the vaccination schedule with a vaccine accepted in a clinical trial
- It has been 14 days since you met the vaccination schedule with a Novavax (or Covovax) vaccine in the Phase 3 clinical trial
- 14 days have elapsed since receiving two doses of any combination of accepted vaccines on an interval of at least 17 days.
Foreign nationals who don't have a complete COVID-19 vaccination schedule may NOT travel by air to the United States unless they meet one of the following criteria:
- Be under 18 years of age
- Have proven medical contraindications to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine
- Be participating in trials of certain COVID-19 vaccines
- Have permission to enter with an emergency or humanitarian exception
- Be a citizen of a country with limited vaccine availability and possess a valid visa (except for B-1 and B-2)
- Be a member of the U.S. Armed Forces
- Be a spouse or child (under 18 years of age) of a member of the armed forces
- Be a member of a ship's crew and have a C-1 or D visa
- Be a person whose entry into the country is considered of national interest to the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Secretary of Homeland Security
- Be part of a diplomatic entourage or to be an official of a foreign government
Authorized Sars-COV-2 Screening Tests
There are two types of COVID-19 screening tests accepted by the U.S. government: the antigen test and the nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT). An officer must verify your results in a written document, either printed or in electronic format, including:
- The type of screening test (NAAT or antigen)
- The name of the laboratory or clinic issuing the result
- The identifying details of the person, such as full name, date of birth, and passport number
- The negative test result
- The date the sample was taken — no later than one day before your flight
Documentation Requirements for Foreigners Traveling to the U.S.
When traveling to the United States, airlines will ask passengers for the following:
- Proof that they completed their vaccination schedule.
- A document certifying a negative result of a viral test for COVID-19 performed one day before their flight
- An attestation to be completed before boarding the aircraft
We have provided more extensive information on the first two documents above, so we'll now focus on the attestation:
- An attestation is a document where the passenger confirms that the information they provide about their health status is true
- Providing false or misleading information in your attestation could result in a fine or other criminal penalties
- There are two types of attestations: one for foreign tourists and one for persons with U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status; the foreign traveler must ensure that they complete the appropriate attestation
- As seen on the websites of airlines such as Aeromexico and Volaris, they’re in charge of providing and collecting attestations from travelers
Requirements for U.S. Citizens
The U.S. government recommends U.S. citizens and those with legal immigration status NOT to travel abroad if they don't have a complete vaccination schedule, since upon returning to the country, it'll be mandatory to comply with the following points:
- Take a COVID-19 screening test one day before the flight and present proof of a negative test
- Provide the airline with U.S. contact information, which may be provided to local, state, and federal health departments.
- Submit an attestation for persons with citizenship or legal immigrant status
Are They Obligated to Quarantine?
One of the main concerns for those traveling to the United States is whether they'll need to quarantine once they arrive on U.S. soil. Although there's no mandatory order to do so, the CDC recommends the following:
If not fully vaccinated
Persons with citizenship or legal immigration status who aren’t fully vaccinated are recommended to:
- Be tested for COVID-19 within 3 to 5 days after travel
- Be vigilant for the presence of COVID-19 symptoms
- Stay at home and quarantine for seven days, even if the screening test is negative
- If a screening test is not performed, it is recommended to stay at home for a ten-day quarantine after travel
If you've just recovered from COVID-19
If the traveler became ill with COVID-19 within the past 90 days, they wouldn’t be tested for the virus three days after arriving in the United States. It has been shown that these individuals can still test positive for COVID-19 up to 90 days after diagnosis — even if they're not considered contagious. You don't need to quarantine unless you develop symptoms of COVID-19 again, in which case it's recommended that you go into isolation and be tested for the virus.
The federal government hasn't made official any new movement restriction measures on U.S. soil to date, and CDC guidelines are still in effect:
- Fully vaccinated individuals should wear a facemask in indoor public spaces and areas with a high risk of COVID-19 transmissions, such as airports and airplanes.
- Persons who remain unvaccinated should wear a facemask in indoor public spaces, regardless of the level of transmission risk for that area.
Keep in mind: Regulations vary from state to state, so we recommend that you learn about possible restriction measures in different states across the country so that you can move around safely once at your location.
Ready for Take-Off?
If you're about to travel, make sure you meet all the new requirements for traveling to the U.S. Remember that the most important thing is to travel safely, taking care of yourself and others.We hope this guide is helpful for preparing your trip; if you have more questions about this topic, we recommend you consult the CDC website or ask our experts. The SABEResPODER team wishes you a safe trip!