On October 15, 2021, the Biden Administration confirmed that it will rescind the COVID-19 travel restrictions banning most travel from Europe, Brazil, India, China, Iran, and South Africa effective November 8, 2021. In its place, the Administration will impose new COVID-19 prevention protocols on all international air travelers, including those coming from countries not previously impacted by the COVID-19 travel bans.
While some details regarding the new protocols are still unknown, the White House has shared some details with the public:
- Beginning November 8th, foreign nationals traveling to the United States must be fully vaccinated, show proof of vaccination prior to boarding, and present a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of boarding. DHS has not yet described what evidence will be accepted to prove vaccination status.
- These rules will also apply to land and ferry crossings from Canada and Mexico, using a phased approach for essential travelers. Non-essential travelers will be required to show proof of vaccination beginning on November 8th, while essential travelers will have until January 2022 to show proof of vaccination.
- The CDC announced that the six vaccines that are FDA authorized or listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO) will meet the criteria for travel to the U.S. The CDC has not indicated whether travelers who have recovered from COVID-19 will be cleared to travel to the U.S. without having been vaccinated. The six acceptable vaccines are:
- Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)
- AstraZeneca, including Covishield
- Sinopharm (Beijing)
- The CDC has signaled that some mixtures of approved vaccines may be considered acceptable when interpreting vaccine records. Individuals can be considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receipt of the last dose of any combination of two doses of an FDA authorized or WHO approved two-dose series. The recommended interval between the first and second dose varies by vaccine type.
- While U.S. citizens will not need to be fully vaccinated, they will need to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of travel and provide proof of having purchased a viral test to be taken after arrival in the United States.
- Airlines will be required to collect information for every passenger coming to the United States for contact tracing purpose.
- Children will not yet be required to be vaccinated.
- There will be very limited exceptions to the vaccine mandate for humanitarian travel where passengers overseas cannot receive the vaccine in a timely matter. Those passengers will be required to be vaccinated upon arrival. The White House indicated that additional information about these very limited exceptions and other operational details will be announced prior to November 8th.