US Announces Reopening to Foreign Travelers. What Does It Means for International Travelers?

The Biden Administration announced, today, that the U.S. will reopen its borders to fully vaccinated international travelers on November 8th. This means that in just a few weeks, travelers from 33 countries including China, India, Brazil and the majority of Europe will finally be able to enter the U.S. If you’ve been dreaming of vacationing in the States or visiting your American relatives, now’s the perfect time to start planning. To help with the trip prep, we’ve put together a list of everything you’ll need to know about the reopening. 

You Must Be Fully Vaccinated

Prior to this announcement, the U.S. had banned countries based on their COVID-19 threat level. If a country was considered high risk for COVID-19 transmission, its citizens were often not allowed to enter the U.S.  The Biden administration’s new policy is centered around vaccination status. All Foreign travelers visiting the U.S. must be fully vaccinated to enter the country. If you can not show proof of Covid vaccination you will not be able to enter the country. Fully vaccinated means that it’s been two weeks since your last required vaccine dose.  

 

If you’re not currently vaccinated or considering getting a vaccine booster, make sure you give yourself enough time for the shots and the two-week waiting period. 

 

Approved Vaccine Manufacturers for International Visitors

Only travelers inoculated with approved vaccines will be allowed to enter. The U.S. will accept vaccines authorized by U.S. regulators as well as vaccines recognized for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO). These vaccines include those made by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.  

What about Mix & Match Inoculations?

For various reasons, a person might receive one vaccine dose from two different manufacturers.  This is a fairly common occurrence in Canada. That might leave some travelers to wonder if their proof of vaccination will suffice for entry. The U.S. is currently working with Canada to provide a pathway for entry to those who received doses from two or more distinct manufacturers.

Proof of Negative Covid-19 Test

The U.S. has adopted a vaccination-and-test strategy for reopening its borders. This means that all foreign visitors, as well as returning U.S. residents flying into the U.S. must produce a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of flight departure. However, if you are arriving by land, from Canada or Mexico, for example, you won’t need to show a negative Covid test.

You Won’t Need to Quarantine

Fully vaccinated foreigners and U.S. residents will not need to quarantine upon arrival in the United States if they present a valid negative Covid test result taken within the specified time frame.

Contact-Tracing Efforts will Increase

With the influx of foreign tourists, the U.S. plans to steep up their contract-tracing measures. The airlines will be working with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to collect passenger information. Consequently, all foreign visitors should expect to have their email addresses and phone numbers entered into the CDC’s contact-tracing system.

What Does this Mean for U.S. Citizens?

Currently, there is no national vaccination requirement for Covid. This means that U.S. citizens will not be required to be fully vaccinated to travel within the U.S.  However, U.S. citizens returning to the U.S. will still need to produce a negative Covid test taken within three days of departure if traveling by plane.

How Will It Affect the Travel System? What to Expect

A few other countries, including India, plan to open their borders for fully vaccinated foreign travelers in November and these openings coincide with the busy holiday season. This sudden surge in demand for international travel may put a strain on the entire travel infrastructure, from passport and visa agencies to flights, hotels and rental car services. Travelers should expect long lines at the airport, overbookings, flight cancelations and delays. With so much beyond the travelers’ control, the best recourse is to focus on what can be controlled. Plan carefully and set realistic expectations.

Travel Insurance Can Help

Is travel insurance required to travel to the USA? It is not required to have travel insurance to visit the U.S., but it can help you manage your travel emergencies. The cost of healthcare in the U.S. is very high and your domestic health insurance won’t cover you while you’re abroad. Travel medical insurance ensures that you’ll get the urgent medical attention you need without having to pay tens of thousands of dollars. The Covid situation in the U.S. only makes it that much more important to protect yourself with travel insurance. Although more than half of the country’s residents are fully vaccinated, your risk of exposure might be higher or lower depending on where you’re traveling within the country. Most travel insurance plans offer Covid coverage if the virus is contracted within the policy active dates. 

Cruise Goers May Need Travel Insurance

If a cruise is part of your U.S. trip itinerary, you’ll want to take the extra precaution of buying cruise insurance. While your cruise line may offer basic travel insurance, you may need more comprehensive coverage. This ensures that you won’t face significant medical debt if you find yourself needing urgent care.  Some of the major cruise lines even require travel insurance.

 

After a year and a half of closed borders, international travelers will finally get the chance to put their U.S. travel plans into action. With a little prep work, some covid-safety precautions and suitable travel insurance, your trip to the U.S. can be as safe as it is exciting. 

 

The CDC , State department and other agencies are expected to release additional guidance before Nov. 8.  We will continue updating this article as more information becomes available.

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