A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about how the US was finally opening their borders to people from around the world once again. It was somewhat bizarre that they had shut out Europeans as long as they had (especially while allowing people in from countries with far greater Covid numbers) but at long last, that is about to change. Here are the full details of what to expect with this re-opening of the US.
Reopening of the US – How It Will Work
Note: I will be testing out the new procedures and reporting on how smoothly things are for people going from Europe to the US as well as how the process will work for Americans – stay tuned the week of November 8th!
When Does the US Open to Foreign Visitors?
While many countries of the world have had free access to the US during this covid period, Europe, UK, and several other nations were closed out. That will change as of November 8 when the ban will drop and foreign visitors from those countries will be able to enter.
What Are the Requirements for Entering the US?
Previously, it was required for those allowed to enter the US to take a PCR or rapid antigen test within 3 days of flying to the US – even if fully vaccinated. Now, that testing timeframe will only apply to Americans and foreign nationals who are fully vaccinated.
For those Americans unvaccinated – that testing requirement will be lowered to now just 1 day before flying to the US. In addition, all non-American citizens traveling to the US will need to be fully vaccinated and show proof of the same.
What Vaccines Count and What Counts for “Fully Vaccinated”?
The vaccines which are considered allowable for entering the US are those that are approved by the FDA or WHO. Those currently are:
- Johnson & Johnson
Furthermore, to be considered “fully vaccinated”, the US stipulates that those “Individuals can be considered fully vaccinated ≥2 weeks after receipt of the last dose if they have received any single dose of an FDA approved/authorized or WHO EUL approved single-dose series (i.e., Janssen), or any combination of two doses of an FDA approved/authorized or WHO emergency use listed COVID-19 two-dose series (i.e. mixing and matching).”
Are There Exceptions?
For those foreign citizens under the age of 18, the vaccination requirement does not apply. However, they will still need to provide proof of a negative test (PCR or rapid antigen) taken within 1 day of travel. But, if they are traveling with an adult who is fully vaccinated, they can be tested within 3 days of travel.
There is another set of exemptions that include those who have been medically cleared as not being able to take the vaccine. But, it will also exempt those traveling for emergency reasons who are from a country with less than 10% vaccination rate, apparently signifying a difficulty in getting the vaccine. This list of countries under this exemption will be fluid as rates change. But, this will only work for those on non-tourist visas and need to be cleared with the US prior to travel.
The US is also requiring basic contact information for everyone traveling to the US in order to contact those travelers in the case that a positive test is identified after travel.
While this is great news for Europeans, UK citizens, and many more, those foreign nationals who have been traveling freely to the US in the last 20 months will also be required to have proof of vaccination as of November 8. So, if that is you, consider this in the coming weeks!
The US is putting the burden of checking proof for all of this on the airlines so expect longer lines, especially with more people (presumably) traveling to the US with the ban lifted, when checking in. Some airlines allow you to upload your Covid documents but still expect to have to show at your airport of origination as well as the airport where you board your flight to the US.
I have flown back and forth between Europe and the US about 6 times since the ban was put in place and found the document checks to go very smoothly at the point of departure to the US. But, this was because each flight had fewer than 50 passengers due to the ban. With this ban being lifted, especially as we get closer to the holidays, I expect far more people to be traveling to the US.
Again, I will be testing all of this out on a Europe-US flight shortly after the implementation of this new policy so I will let you know what the whole process is like and what you should expect.