U.S. Travel Rules: Entry, Testing And Vaccination Requirements (June 2022)

Masks Not Required on Flights, Public Transit and in U.S. Airports

On April 18, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle struck down the Biden administration’s mask mandate, citing agency overreach by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Biden administration has appealed the decision after the CDC determined the mandate is still necessary to protect the public from Covid-19. It’s unclear when a final decision will be made, but some worry that if the mask mandate is reinstated, there could be backlash from the American public.

Update (June 10, 2022): US will end Covid-19 testing requirement for air travelers entering the country

Before Mizelle’s ruling, all travelers to the U.S. were required to wear a mask during air travel and in all U.S. airports. The mask mandate was set to expire on April 19, but was extended for two additional weeks through May 3.

In response, most major U.S. airlines made masks optional for employees and customers, including Delta, American Airlines, United Airlines, Alaska, JetBlue, Spirit and Southwest Airlines.

The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) said it wouldn’t enforce the mask mandate in airports or public transportation. Uber, Lyft and Amtrak also no longer require travelers or drivers to wear masks.

As per the new ruling, you’re no longer required to wear a mask in U.S. airports.

Are Covid-19 Tests Still Required to Enter the U.S.?

Do I need to get a covid-19 test before traveling to the United States?

Yes. All passengers age 2 and over are required to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test to their airline taken within one day of their flight departure to the United States. Non-U.S. citizens who are visiting must also show proof of being vaccinated before entering the country.

If you’re a U.S. citizen or legal resident that recently recovered from Covid-19, you can travel with documentation proving your recovery (the CDC gives the example of a positive Covid-19 viral test received no more than 90 days before your flight back to the U.S., plus a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or public health official declaring it’s safe for you to travel).

For documentation proving that you have recently recovered from Covid-19, check out Part 2, Option B.

It’s important to note that the test requirements include taking it within one calendar day and is not limited to within 24 hours of your departure. This means that you’ll be able to take your test at any time during the day before your flight, no matter what time your flight departs.

Either a PCR or antigen test will be accepted as proof of being negative for Covid-19. The CDC requires the test to be “authorized for use by the relevant national authority for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in the country where the test is administered.”

This may mean an over-the-counter at-home test bought in a foreign country won’t qualify. It may also mean that you have to get an antigen test in person, conducted by a licensed professional.

If you take your test within one calendar day but outside a 24-hour window before your flight, it may be prudent to have a copy of the regulations handy to show to airport personnel.

If you test positive for Covid-19, you won’t be able to board a flight to the U.S and will be restricted from entering USA.

What Covid-19 Test Can I Take to Get Into the U.S.?

All travelers age 2 and older are required to present a negative Covid-19 test within one calendar day of travel. With such a narrow window for taking a test and receiving results, travelers’ testing options for returning to the U.S. have been dramatically curtailed. So which tests can you take to ensure you will be allowed to board your flight?

The CDC permits results from two types of tests: NAAT (nucleic acid amplification test e.g. a PCR test) and antigen.

PCR tests are typically sent to a lab for processing, and it can take up to several days to receive results. This timeline is less likely to work when you have a one-calendar day window to get tested AND get results before boarding your plane.

A better option is an antigen test, which can return results in 15-30 minutes. However, not all antigen tests pass muster with the CDC order.

The CDC says that a qualifying antigen test “must include a telehealth service affiliated with the manufacturer of the test that provides real-time supervision remotely through an audio and video connection.” In other words, you need to get someone to watch you take your test for it to be accepted.

Most over-the-counter antigen tests won’t work for this purpose; you need to buy a particular type of test such as a BinaxNow Home Test or Qured’s rapid tests.

If you find yourself in a foreign country and you haven’t brought a qualifying test with you on your trip, you will have to get a test that’s authorized for use by the relevant authority in the country you’re taking the test.

Whether a test qualifies will vary by country, and the cost will too; in some cases, you may be able to take one at the airport before you fly. You might be able to get one at a local pharmacy. If possible, research your destination before you leave the U.S to make sure you can get a test in a timeframe that works.

Related: When Should I Use A Home Covid Test?

The New U.S. Covid-19 Entry Requirements Started on Dec. 6, 2021

The U.S. is still enforcing strict Covid-19 testing rules for travelers coming to the U.S. A recap:

  • All travelers, whether they’re vaccinated or not, must present a negative Covid-19 test to their airline before traveling to the U.S. The test must be taken no more than one calendar day before your flight.
  • The test must be either PCR or antigen. You can use a self-test, but it must adhere to the CDC’s stringent guidelines.
  • Documentation of recovery from Covid-19 is permitted when U.S. citizens and legal residents travel into the United States by air. Documentation includes a previous positive test result and a signed letter from a healthcare provider or public health official stating you’re cleared for travel.
  • Those who are not citizens or legal residents of the U.S. must provide proof of vaccination to enter the country IN ADDITION TO a negative Covid-19 test.

Given the tight deadline to get tested AND receive your results, an antigen test is generally preferable to a PCR test. PCR test results can take days, whereas antigen test results can take minutes to get your results.

If you travel abroad from the U.S. and forget to pack an antigen test for your trip home, things may get a little tricky for you. Not all countries sell over-the-counter antigen tests, some tests may not meet all the requirements set out by the CDC, and you may have to book an appointment to get one professionally conductedThis is especially true if you’re traveling on a Monday or the day after a holiday as services may be limited on Sundays and holidays.

It’s Confirmed: Biden Tightens Covid Testing Restrictions for Travelers Entering the U.S.

On Dec. 2, 2021, the Biden Administration said that all travelers aged 2 and over flying to the U.S. would need to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within a day before their flight.

Unlike the previous requirements, which allowed for a longer timetable for vaccinated travelers, this new requirement will treat all passengers the same, regardless of vaccination status. As is currently the case, either a PCR or antigen test will be accepted as proof of being negative for Covid-19.

The test requirements include taking it within one calendar day and is not limited to within 24 hours of your departure. This means that passengers will be able to take their test at any time during the day before their flight, no matter what time their flight departs.

There are no new quarantine restrictions at this time.

Japan Still Closed for Most Foreign Visitors

Japan has continued to greatly restrict who can enter the country. As of April 18, foreign nationals can only enter the country for short-term stays for business or employment. Long-term stays of foreign nationals are restricted to a limited number and include foreign students and technical trainees. Foreigners traveling for tourism are still barred from entering the country.

Those entering Japan must have a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of the international leg of their trip and must be tested upon arrival. U.S. citizens that are vaccinated and have a booster do not need to quarantine. U.S. citizens who are not vaccinated, or are vaccinated without a booster, can either quarantine for seven days at home or in a hotel, OR quarantine for three days at home or in a hotel AND complete a PCD or antigen test on day three.

What Counts as Proof of Vaccination for Travel?

If you’re not a U.S. citizen or legal resident, you must provide proof of vaccination for travel. A booster dose is NOT needed to be considered vaccinated. This proof must tick the following boxes:
  • It’s issued by an official source (e.g. the CDC)
  • It shows your name and date of birth
  • It shows the vaccine you received, and the date(s) for all the doses you received

Acceptable forms of proof include:

  • A paper vaccination certificate
  • A printout of a Covid-19 vaccination record
  • A vaccination certificate with a QR code
  • A digital pass via a smartphone app (e.g. the EU’s digital Covid certificate)
  • A digital photo of a vaccination card or record
  • A downloaded version of a vaccination card or record from an official source
  • A mobile phone app without a QR code

Only certain vaccines are accepted for entry into the U.S. These are:

Vaccines approved or authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which currently include:
  • Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen
  • Moderna
  • Pfizer-BioNTech
Vaccines listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO), which currently include:
  • Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen
  • Moderna
  • Pfizer-BioNTech
  • AstraZeneca
  • Covaxin
  • Covishield
  • BIBP/Sinopharm
  • Sinovac
  • Novavax/Covovax

COVID Testing Requirement - Where can I get Tested?

Check out the U.S. Embassy pages on how and where to get tested in the country from which you are traveling.  

Should I Get Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance can be a valuable safety net in any year, but especially when travel uncertainties are high. With travel rules changing daily across the globe because of the Omicron variant, you can protect your trip investment with the right travel insurance.

Standard trip cancellation insurance can reimburse you 100% of your non-refundable trip costs for many common problems such as illness, injury, family emergencies and hurricanes. 

Source: https://www.forbes.com/advisor/travel-insurance/covid-travel-rules-usa-4-21-22/

Related: Best Travel Insurance 2022


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