The U.S. is finally open to international visitors from today – for the first time since March 2020. However, U.S. authorities have established some strict entry criteria for most arrivals. Here’s what you need to know.
Do I need a vaccine?
Yes, most definitely. All arrivals into the United States aged 18 or over must show proof of vaccination otherwise they will be denied entry.
Authorities will accept vaccines approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), so that includes Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Covishield, Sinopharm, Sinovac and the one-shot Johnson & Johnson jab.
The U.S. will also accept mix-and-match vaccines, so if your first dose was Pfizer and your second dose AstraZeneca, you’re ok to travel.
What about a Covid test?
You’re going to need one of those too, I’m afraid – but only if you’re flying into the United States. If you’re travelling by land or by sea – so arriving by ship or crossing the border from Mexico or Canada – you won’t need to take a test.
U.S. authorities will accept either a PCR or antigen test – so long as they have been processed in a lab (which will provide a ‘Fit to Fly’ certificate).
You will need to take the test up to 72 hours before you travel.
What about children?
Children under two do not have to take a test, but everyone else does. However, unvaccinated children between 2 and 18 must have taken their Covid test no more than one day before travel.
All air passengers to the United States will also be required to provide contact information to airlines before boarding flights to the United States. This strengthens a travel process already in place to rapidly identify and contact people in the U.S. who may have been exposed to a communicable disease, such as COVID-19.
How do I present all my proof?
The airlines will be responsible for verifying that your vaccine status and test results are correct for entry into the United States. You will need to show the correct documentation (including appropriate QR codes etc) either at check-in or at the boarding gate. If for some reason you don’t have all of the correct documentation, you will be denied boarding.