Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020, international travel has been put on hold with countries all over the world closing their borders in an effort to stop the spread of the virus in their territories. Among them is the U.S., which imposed international air and land travel restrictions and barred international travelers from entering the country for 21 months.
With vaccination rates steadily rising, however, the U.S. government has announced a bold decision to begin accepting international travelers on one condition — they need to be fully vaccinated. The Biden administration is set to lift travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers from 33 countries starting November 8, 2021.
Requirements for Travelers Visiting the U.S.
Despite the U.S. being set to open to international travelers, there are safety measures and precautions in place to ensure that all travelers are COVID-19 negative. For those seeking to visit the U.S. after November 8, the following requirements must be met:
- Complete vaccination with a WHO-approved vaccine
- Negative COVID-19 test result
Travelers to the U.S. must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. One is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose vaccine series or two weeks after receiving a single-dose vaccine.
Individuals who received two doses of mix-and-match vaccines are also considered fully vaccinated since all WHO-approved brands provide immunity and protection against COVID-19.
Negative COVID-19 Test Result
In addition to proof of vaccination, travelers visiting the U.S. also need to test negative for COVID-19 within three days (72 hours) of their departure. According to the CDC, any viral test authorized by the country of administration is accepted, whether RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction), antigen, or rapid tests.
The negative test result is also a requirement for Americans returning to the U.S., but with a shorter time frame of one day within departure or arrival.
Allowing International Travel While Curbing the Spread of COVID-19
The United States is beginning to open its doors to international travelers after a 21-month long lockdown, but with safety measures in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19. While a fully vaccinated status and negative RT-PCR test can ensure that travelers are COVID-free, the U.S. may also impose border control points and regular vaccine checking as an additional veil of protection.
At this point, the U.S. is asking for the cooperation of airline companies and border control points to ensure the proper checking of vaccination statuses and proof of negative COVID-19 tests to evade future surges brought about by the relaxed travel restrictions.
Travelers are also encouraged to do their part in curbing the spread of COVID-19. These include observing basic health and safety measures, such as mask-wearing (even if they are fully vaccinated), social distancing, and regular hand-washing or sanitizing.