For the best part of two years, since March 2020, if you hailed from the UK, Ireland and the Schengen Area (most of the EU plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein) you were been banned from travelling to the US.
From today (12.01 November 8) that has changed. The White House has said that fully vaccinated visitors from 33 countries are allowed to enter the US.
It’s a major step forward in relaxing the country’s coronavirus travel restrictions and a boost to transatlantic travel.
Which jabs are included in “fully vaccinated” stipulation?
Entry is allowed via land borders and via transatlantic flights for those who have been given vaccines authorised by US regulators or the World Health Organisation, including the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), Moderna, and Pfizer/BioNTech, as well as two Chinese vaccines: Sinopharm and Sinovac.
A tweet from White House assistant press secretary Kevin Munoz said:
“The US’s new travel policy that requires vaccination for foreign national travellers to the United States will begin on Nov 8.
“This announcement and date applies to both international air travel and land travel. This policy is guided by public health, stringent, and consistent.”
How do I prove my vaccination status?
You must be able to show a “record issued by an official source (eg public health agency, government agency) in the country where the vaccine was given”. This will be policed by the airlines. At the land borders, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers will check paperwork.
British travellers can show their NHS Covid pass letter. This is available for free from the NHS.
The airline will have to “match the name and date of birth to confirm the passenger is the same person reflected on the proof of vaccination”. They will also have to ensure that the traveller meets the CDC’s definition for being fully vaccinated.
Both travellers and the airline industry have welcomed the news which comes after months of intense lobbying. It’s been a long time coming as the UK reached out on 2 August 2 with a unilateral lifting of UK restrictions on American visitors.
What about children who are not fully vaccinated? Can they enter?
Under-18s who are travelling to the United States with a fully vaccinated parent or guardian are welcome, subject to testing. Children between the ages of 2 and 17 are required to take a pre-departure test – and another test between three and five days after arrival,
Is a Covid test required to enter?
You will need to show a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours before you travel to the US. This can be a rapid antigen lateral flow test, which is a lot cheaper than the slow PCR tests that have traditionally been required. The exception to this is if you are flying to the US via Canada. In which case the PCR test is required.
Note: To enter the US you will need to comply with existing immigration regulations, including presenting a valid visa or Esta (America’s online entry permit). You will not need to quarantine on arrival.