(CNN) — If traveling to the United States is part of your plans, here’s what you need to know and what you can expect when visiting the country during the covid-19 pandemic.
After restrictive country-specific closures for much of the pandemic, the United States reopened its borders to fully vaccinated visitors on November 8, 2021.
What does it offer?
The size and expanse of the United States provides travelers with many options.
There are breathtaking landscapes (Alaska, Utah and coastal Maine) and world-class city breaks (New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles).
There’s cultural variety (Boston, Austin and San Francisco) and delicious cuisine (Chicago, New Orleans and Charleston).
Finally, it has some of the best road trips in the world (California Highway 1, Route 66 and Blue Ridge Parkway).
Who can go to the United States?
The United States is open to all fully vaccinated visitors, although there are special rules depending on how they enter the country. More details below.
This means that unvaccinated travelers from countries outside the United States travel bans will not be able to enter.
Unvaccinated travelers crossing U.S. land borders with Mexico and Canada for essential reasons will still be able to enter for some time. But, from January 2022, the restrictions are even stricter, since travelers for essential reasons from Mexico and Canada will have to be fully vaccinated.
Requirements to enter the United States
Should I be vaccinated?
To be considered fully immunized, travelers must have received their second dose (or one dose for a single-dose vaccine) 14 days prior to arrival.
As of February 4, booster doses will no longer be taken into account to establish that people are fully vaccinated.
The vaccine must be approved by the United States Federal Drug Administration (FDA) or must have a World Health Organization emergency use list (like Astrazeneca). Mixed dose vaccines will also be accepted. Find the full list of accepted vaccines here, along with acceptable ways to prove vaccination.
Unvaccinated Americans can enter, but the rules are slightly more strict. They will need to provide a negative covid-19 test taken 24 hours prior to travel. It is recommended to self-quarantine for seven days and take a second test three to five days after arrival.
Do I have to take a covid test?
From 22 January 2022, proof of vaccination rules apply to land and ferry arrivals, as well as air travel. Get more details on air travel here. Get more details on land and ferry arrivals here. Foreigners will need to verify their vaccination status and be prepared to show a certificate.
There are no exceptions for US citizens or fully vaccinated persons to the proof requirement. Learn more about testing here.
Passengers arriving by air who are not U.S. citizens or migrants must comply with these regulations to enter the United States:
- Show proof that you are fully vaccinated against covid-19 before boarding the plane to the United States from another country.
- All passengers, from children two years and older – whether US citizens or not – must present a negative covid-19 test or recovery certificate to travel to the United States. The test must have a maximum of 24 hours before the trip.
- People under the age of 18 are exempt from the vaccination requirement, but if arriving by air, anyone over the age of two will need to test negative before travel. People traveling with vaccinated adults will need to be tested within 72 hours of travel. People traveling with unvaccinated adults will need to get tested within 24 hours of travel.
- If you have recently recovered from covid-19, you must present a positive covid-19 test result taken no later than 90 days prior to flight departure and a letter from a doctor or public health official certifying that you can travel, according to the CDC.
The use of a mask over the nose and mouth is mandatory in indoor areas of public transport, including planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transport
How has covid evolved in the United States?
As of April 8, 2022, the United States has recorded just over 80 million infections and 984,000 deaths from covid-19, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. At least 65% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to CDC data, and 45% have received a booster dose.
What can visitors expect from their trip to the United States?
In general, the United States is mainly open to places that tourists generally enjoy: national and state parks, winter ski resorts, museums, restaurants, entertainment venues, theme parks, etc. However, individual shows and venues may temporarily close during covid outbreaks.
Regulations regarding entry testing, vaccinations, and quarantines can vary widely by state, county, and city. It is important to check the rules of your destinations before travelling. This guide from CNN provides links to covid rules and safety information for each state.
Regarding the use of masks, currently states, with the exception of Hawaii, no longer mandate the use of masks in public places. Whether or not you should use it is an entirely different question, experts say.
Hawaii and the US territories of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Virgin Islands have some of the strictest rules when it comes to travel to the United States. Learn more about Hawaii here. Learn more about Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands here.
Some major US tourist cities (New York, San Francisco, New Orleans and Washington, among others) currently have vaccine or testing mandates for indoor entertainment venues. Learn more about visiting New York here.
Our recent coverage
Get all the details in our article with the most frequently asked questions about US travel rules, or if you’re thinking of going to New York, check out our latest information here.
Travel is generating traction in the United States. Yellowstone, for example, saw the highest number of visitors ever in 2021. If you like to keep your distance, here’s a guide on how to escape the crowds in Zion National Park.
People arriving at New York’s LaGuardia Airport will find a delightfully modernized Terminal B.
Finally, this gallery of 22 of the best places to visit in America can help you start making plans.