Vaccine Requirements for Air Travel to the U.S. – FAQs
Who must be vaccinated under this new policy?
All adult foreign national air travelers to the United States, with very limited exceptions, will be required to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of vaccination status prior to boarding an airplane to the United States. Immigrant visa applicants are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as part of the medical exam they receive prior to visa issuance.
Which vaccines will be accepted?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) determined that for purposes of travel to the United States, accepted vaccines include FDA approved or authorized vaccines and World Health Organization (WHO) emergency use listed (EUL) vaccines. For more info, see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/proof-of-vaccination.html#covid-vaccines.
What about people who have mixed and matched different authorized or approved vaccines?
We refer you to the CDC for information on the authorized or approved vaccines: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/international-travel/
What about the Sputnik V vaccine?
We refer you to the WHO on its emergency use listing (EUL) process for Sputnik V: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/international-travel/.
What does “fully vaccinated” mean?
We refer you to the CDC for information on what constitutes “fully vaccinated”. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/international-travel/
How is the United States government determining exceptions to the vaccination requirement for nonimmigrant foreign nationals?
The presidential proclamation and CDC order include a very limited set of exceptions from the vaccination requirement for foreign nationals. These include exceptions for children under 18, certain COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participants, those who need to travel for emergency or humanitarian reasons, those who are traveling on non-tourist visas from countries with low-vaccine availability (as determined by the CDC), members of the armed forces and their immediate families, airline crew, ship crew, and diplomats and their families. See CDC for more details: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/international-travel/.
How does the exception from full vaccination for children work?
Children under 18 are excepted from the vaccination requirement for nonimmigrant foreign national travelers, given both the ineligibility of some younger children for vaccination, as well as the global variability in access to vaccination for older children who are eligible to be vaccinated.
U.S. CITIZENS AND LPRs
Q: What are the changes for U.S. citizens and LPRs in this new international travel system?
Previously, all U.S. citizen and LPR travelers were required to produce a negative test result within three days of travel to the United States. This requirement remains the same for U.S. citizens and LPRs who can show they are fully vaccinated. All fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and LPRs traveling to the United States should be prepared to present documentation of their vaccination status alongside their negative test result.
Those U.S. citizens and LPRs who cannot demonstrate proof of full vaccination will now have to show documentation of a negative test from a sample taken within one day of departure to the United States.
Do foreign nationals still need approved National Interest Exceptions (NIE) to travel to the United States before November 8?
Yes, travelers from the 33 countries subject to COVID-related travel restrictions under the current Presidential Proclamations will still need to obtain national interest exceptions (NIE) or be eligible for one of the blanket NIEs under the current presidential proclamations to travel to the United States prior to November 8.
Will vaccinated foreign nationals still need an NIE after November 8?
No. This new global travel system replaces the existing country-by-country restrictions, putting in place a consistent approach worldwide. Current NIEs will not except nonimmigrant travelers from the vaccine requirement.
Do I need to bring proof of vaccination to my nonimmigrant visa appointment?
No, the visa appointment is completely distinct from the travel requirements. You will need to show your proof of vaccination to the airline prior to travel. Please see FAA and CDC’s websites for more information.
When is the first time a flight can take off under the new system?
This will be effective for planes that DEPART from their foreign destination at or after 12:01 AM ET on November 8.
Q: What are the testing requirements for children?
Children between the ages of 2 and 17 are required to take a pre-departure test.
- If a child is not fully vaccinated and traveling with a fully vaccinated adult, the child’s parent or guardian can show proof of a negative viral test from a sample taken within three days before departure (consistent with the timeline for fully vaccinated adults).
- If an unvaccinated child is traveling alone or with unvaccinated adults, he/she will have to show proof of a negative viral test from a sample taken within one day of departure.
- While children under two years of age are excepted from the testing requirement, CDC recommends a pre-departure test for these children whenever possible.
What does it mean to test three days prior to departure?
The test must be administered no more than three calendar days prior to the date of the international flight to the United States. For example, if a traveler is departing for the United States at 10 P.M. on January 19, they would have to present a negative test result for a test that was taken any time after 12:01 AM on January 16.
What happens if someone cannot find a test that delivers a result within one day and needs to take a one-day test?
The easiest way to avoid having to meet this tougher requirement is for travelers to get vaccinated. Over-the-counter proctored tests are widely available in the United States, so U.S. citizens traveling abroad can bring a proctored test with them upon departure from the United States that they can take before returning home. However, there is also a waiver process in place from the pre-departure testing requirement when a suitable test is not available.
What should passengers provide to airlines to show they are fully vaccinated?
Both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals who are fully vaccinated should travel with proof of their vaccination status to provide to their airline prior to departure to the United States. That proof of vaccination should be a paper or digital record issued by an official source and should include the traveler’s name and date of birth, as well as the vaccine product and date(s) of administration for all doses the traveler received.
Who will need to present their vaccination status to airlines?
- For nonimmigrant foreign nationals, proof of vaccination will be required – with very limited exceptions – prior to departure to the United States.
- While vaccination proof is not required for U.S. citizens and LPRs, fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and LPRs will continue to be able to show documentation of a negative viral test up to three days prior to departure back to the United States and must present proof of vaccination to qualify for the three-day test window.
- U.S. citizens and LPRs who are unable to show they are fully vaccinated will have to show documentation of a negative viral test taken no more than one day before departure.
How will vaccination status of travelers be verified by airlines?
Airlines will verify proof of pre-departure negative COVID-19 test and proof of vaccination. Passengers will need to show their vaccination status, either via a paper record, a photo of their paper record, or a digital app. This information should include the passenger’s name, date of birth, issuing authority, and information to show the passenger was fully vaccinated.
Do vaccinated travelers still have to wear masks and comply with all other mandatory safety protocols?
Yes, even vaccinated travelers must wear masks on airplanes and comply with social distancing and other safety protocols.
Will there also be changes to the travel restrictions at the land border on November 8? When will we have more details?
Yes. As previously announced, fully vaccinated foreign nationals with appropriate documentation will be able to travel to the United States across the Northern and Southwest borders with Canada and Mexico starting on November 8. Please visit CBP.gov for more information on what will be required of travelers. Those requirements – including which vaccines are accepted and the type of vaccine-related documentation that travelers will need – will be consistent across air and land travel.
What will happen to U.S. citizens or foreign nationals who present forged or otherwise illegitimate negative COVID test results in order to try to enter the United States?
For each of these requirements, air passengers will have to sign an attestation, certifying the validity of vaccination and testing, and conform that their contact information is complete and accurate. Falsifying any information could result in criminal penalties and/or fines.
Where can I get more information?
We will provide further information for visa applicants, U.S. citizen travelers and LPRs as it becomes available on our website. The CDC also has information available on their website.