US Travel Update: International Travel System for November
As the United States reopens international borders, the US has announced new details of its entry requirements for the scheduled reopening on 8 November 2021.
The White House has just released an initial outline of its new system for foreign nationals travelling to the US.
On 25 October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued official orders for implementing the new travel policy to safely regulate and facilitate international travel in the pandemic era.
The move will ease the current travel bans on visitors from 33 countries and will welcome fully vaccinated visitors.
The US will reopen to travellers from the United Kingdom, Ireland, the European Schengen Area, Brazil, China, India, and South Africa. The land border restriction with Canada and Mexico will also be eased on 8 November.
Travellers will need to wear masks when travelling to the United States but there is no quarantine mandate for arrivals.
US Vaccination Requirement for Entry
The CDC issued orders set forth the new system’s requirements that all non-immigrant, non-US citizens seeking to enter the United States must be fully vaccinated and supply documented proof of their vaccination status. The agency said that exemptions to the vaccination requirements would be very limited, but would include children under the age of 18.
The CDC said earlier this month that it would accept any of the vaccine types authorized for use in the US or approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), and would also accept mixed doses of the two-dose vaccine types.
The acceptable vaccines are:
- and Sinovac
The CDC also issued the acceptable proof of vaccination to enter the country, see the table below.
Acceptable Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination
|Verifiable records (digital or paper)||Vaccination certificate with QR code1, digital pass via smartphone application with QR code1 (e.g., United Kingdom National Health Service COVID Pass, European Union Digital COVID Certificate)|
|Non-verifiable paper records||Printout of COVID-19 vaccination record or a COVID-19 vaccination certificate issued at national or subnational level or by an authorized vaccine provider (e.g., the CDC vaccination card)|
|Non-verifiable digital records||Digital photos of vaccination card or record downloaded vaccine record or vaccination certificate from an official source (e.g., public health agency, government agency, or other authorized vaccine providers), or a mobile phone application without QR code|
In addition to proving travellers are fully vaccinated, all inbound international passengers including US citizens and legal permanent residents will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours prior to their departure for the US, regardless of their citizenship.
Returning US residents who are unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated will be subject to stricter requirements than they are now, and will need to produce a negative test taken no more than 24 hours before boarding their flight.
The CDC also announced that it’s introducing new contact-tracing practices and will rely on airlines to collect inbound international travellers’ basic contact information before they board their US-bound flights.
The government will require airlines to keep the information on their system for 30 days to enable health officials to follow up with any travellers exposed to COVID-19.
Exemption to the Vaccination Requirement
The government also stated exemptions to vaccine requirements would be rare, but travellers under the age of 18 and travellers from nations with low vaccination availability, such as under 10% of the population vaccinated, would be exempt from the vaccination requirement.
For anyone travelling to the United States who cannot demonstrate proof of full vaccination, they will have to produce documentation of a negative test within one day of departure.White House statement
The US government will not require children under two to take a COVID-19 test before departure, but children aged 2 to 17 will require a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure to the United States if they’re travelling with fully vaccinated adults otherwise they will need to show evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of departure.
The new travel system only refers to international air travel to the United States and does not affect visa issuance. The US State Department issued a statement reiterating that embassies and consulates will not necessarily be able to issue US visas more quickly which has been a known issue throughout the pandemic. How visa issuance is affected by the new vaccine travel requirements remains to be seen.
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