U.S. Borders Reopen to Vaccinated International Travelers on November 8th
The White House announced that the international travel ban will be lifted on November 8th, after over 18 months. Visitors from the EU, U.K., and other countries (such as South Africa, Brazil, and Ireland) previously blocked will be able to visit the United States as long as they fulfill certain requirements.
Last month, government officials had said the borders would open but were slow to specify a certain date. This is likely due to the volume and time of internal approvals required by different departments within the U.S. government to move forward with the new policy.
More robust contact tracing systems will also be put into place to ensure potential contagions or outbreaks are controlled in a more comprehensive manner.
What Will International Visitors Need to Enter the U.S.?
Starting November 8th, in order to enter the United States, international visitors must:
- Show valid proof of full vaccination;
- Present a negative COVID-19 test result taken in the three days prior to departure;
- Wear a mask for the duration of the journey (both in airports and on the plane); and
- Share their email address and phone number to be identified for contact tracing reasons.
Which Vaccines Are Accepted for Entry to the U.S.?
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the U.S. will accept full vaccination of travelers with any COVID-19 vaccine approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization:
- Pfizer BioNTech
- Johnson & Johnson
The protocol for unvaccinated minors has yet to be released. It is uncertain what other measures – testing or contact tracing – will be put into place for underage children traveling with parents/guardians.
The CDC will require airlines to validate the vaccine status for all inbound international arrivals to the U.S. However, it is still unclear what specific information passengers will be required to provide and in what format (e.g. paper or approved digital credentials).
What About the Land Borders?
Also starting on November 8, foreign nationals crossing the land borders with Canada and Mexico, or arriving in the United States by passenger ferry for non-essential reasons will be required to be fully vaccinated. These travelers are required to be prepared to attest to vaccination status and to present valid proof of vaccination to a CBP officer upon request.
By January, foreign nationals traveling across the land border for both essential and non-essential reasons will be required to be fully vaccinated.
The current ban on nonessential travel to the U.S. has been in place since March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic began. It started with China and then was expanded to include travelers from the U.K., Ireland, the 29 nations of the European Union Schengen region, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, and India.
The United States will also tighten rules for unvaccinated citizens returning home from abroad. They will need to test one day before departure and test again after returning.