Q&A: What do I need to fly to the US?

Q&A: What do I need to fly to the US?

After 18 months of strict travel control, the US will soon open up its borders to international visitors.

After 18 months of strict travel control, the US will soon open up its borders to international visitors again under new travel restrictions which will kick in on November 8.

President Joe Biden has officially signed a proclamation that will lift current restrictions that bar most non-US citizens who within the last 14 days have been in Ireland, Britain, the 26 Schengen countries in Europe without border controls, Brazil, China, India, South Africa, and Iran.

Will I need proof of vaccination to fly?

Foreign visitors arriving in the US by air will be required to show proof of vaccination before boarding a flight.

Vaccines currently in use in the US — including the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines — will be recognised for international travel under the new rules, once it Is two weeks after a passenger's last dose.

While the AstraZeneca vaccine has nOt been approved for use in the US yet, it is being recognised for international travel. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said it will accept FDA approved or authorised and World Health Organisation (WHO) emergency use listed vaccines.

Visitors will also have to sign an attestation that they have been vaccinated and are warned that "wilfully providing false or misleading information may lead to criminal fines and imprisonment".

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) also plans to issue a security directive that provides the legal basis for airlines to check vaccine records.

I am unvaccinated — can I still travel to the US?

No. The CDC has said if you are not vaccinated for religious or moral reasons, you are not permitted to travel to the US.

However, exemptions include having a valid medical reason for not getting vaccinated, being a participant in a certain Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial, and those who need to travel for emergency or humanitarian reasons. For this, you would need to obtain a US government-issued letter affirming the urgent need to travel.

Non-tourist travellers from nearly 50 countries with nationwide vaccination rates of less than 10% will be exempt from the requirements but must agree within 60 days to get vaccinated under most conditions.

Children under 18 will not need to be vaccinated before travelling.

Are Covid-19 tests still required even though I am fully vaccinated?

Yes, all travellers will still need to produce a negative Covid-19 test result before travelling.

For those who are vaccinated, you must produce a negative viral test result within three days prior to travel.

If you are an unvaccinated US citizen or visitor exempted from being vaccinated, you must provide a negative test taken within one day before travelling.

For children between the ages of 2 and 17 they will be required to take a pre-departure test, however, if travelling with a fully vaccinated adult, an unvaccinated child can test three days prior to departure.

If an unvaccinated child is travelling alone or with unvaccinated adults, they will have to test within one day before departure.

Will I have to quarantine?

No, under the new restrictions mandatory quarantine will not be required. Masking will be required however and public health and safety guidelines must be followed.

If you are unsure whether or not you qualify to travel to the US, the CDC has released a travel assessment tool for people planning international trips.

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