Starting in early December, the United States adopted a new global travel policy that nonimmigrant noncitizens must be fully vaccinated against coronavirus before traveling to the U.S.
Added to that mandate are separate Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccination requirements for international travelers. Those took effect just before the nation saw a spike in infections due to the omicron variant.
U.S. visitors must comply with new vaccine rules
The U.S. began enforcing the stricter rules on Dec. 13 for all inbound air travelers, regardless of citizenship. The new rules state that:
- Passengers must show proof of a negative test within one day of departure.
- Per CDC guidelines, specimens must be collected within one calendar day before boarding an airplane.
- Nucleic acid amplification tests (including PCR) and antigen tests are acceptable.
Previously, all travelers to the U.S. had to show a negative test within three days of departure.
Are tests required after arrival?
No. Passengers are not forced to test upon arriving in the U.S. However, the CDC recommends getting tested three to five days after any travel. The agency is also expanding a program offering free, voluntary tests for travelers when they arrive to help detect the omicron and other variants. Private rapid testing is also available in several U.S. international airports, costing $75 to $250.
The new rules only impact air travelers to the U.S.
The new policies do not currently apply to those crossing into the country by land after recently lifted border restrictions. However, we expect similar vaccination rules to be extended to noncitizens crossing by land in the coming months. If your family members or friends are affected by the new air restrictions and want to cancel or change their plans, they will need to check with the airline as carriers constantly change their rules and ticket policies in response to shifting national requirements.
How do I keep up with these changes?
Traveling during a pandemic can be confusing and frustrating as rules frequently change while public health officials adapt to the mutating virus. The CDC offers the latest guidance on its website, including advice for those preparing for any international travel.