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Here are the vaccination and testing rules for USA travel from 8th November

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The USA has published full details today of what vaccinations and tests you will require to enter the United States from 8th November 2021.

Details have been scant since the United States announced it would welcome back travellers to the USA from 33 countries, including the UK and Europe. It has cut it a bit fine, with just two weeks until reopening on Monday 8th November.

The US has had tough covid restrictions for the past twenty months for travellers arriving by air. The rules prevented almost all non-US citizens who had been in the UK, Ireland, Europe, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil from entering. The rule change will re-open the borders more widely than they have been since March 2020.

What are the vaccination and testing rules for USA travel from 8th November?

Who is allowed in to the US?

From 8th November, you will be able to visit the USA without applying for a National Interest Exemption. That means you will once again be able to visit the USA as a tourist, to visit friends and family or for any other reason.

The new rules will come into effect for all travellers, regardless of origin, from 00:01 EST on Monday 8th November.

Technically, it only applies to flights which depart after 00:01 EST on the 8th – you can’t take a flight which lands just after midnight.

The first UK flight will be the special BA1 service, departing Heathrow at 8:30am (4.30am EST) and arriving in New York at 11:15am. You can read more about the history of the BA1 designation here – British Airways is using the historic flight number as a one-off to celebrate the re-opening of transatlantic travel.

What are the USA vaccination requirements?

The new entry rules will be based on your vaccination status rather than your country of origin. Only fully vaccinated individuals will be allowed to enter: adults will not be allowed in if unvaccinated or semi-vaccinated.

All vaccines approved or authorised by the FDA or listed by the WHO for Emergency Use are accepted. This includes the three vaccines used in the UK:

  • Oxford AstraZeneca (both the Vaxzevria and Covishield brand names)
  • Pfizer-BioNtech
  • Moderna
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Sinopharm
  • Sinovac

The final vaccination dose must occur at least two weeks prior to departure. Mixed dose vaccines will also be accepted.

Unvaccinated travellers will barred from entry, pending specific exemptions.

Can unvaccinated children fly to the USA?

Children under the age of 18 are exempt from the vaccination requirement.

Any other exemptions?

Further exemptions apply in limited circumstances for people with medical contraindications to the vaccines, including “severe anaphylactic allergic reactions to a prior Covid vaccine”.

There are exceptions for those who need to travel for emergency or humanitarian reasons and for business travellers (not tourists) from countries with a vaccination rate of 10% or less. Further documentation is required in these cases.

Will I need to take a covid test to enter the USA?

Yes. A further requirement (in addition to being fully vaccinated) is that all travellers aged two and over will have to provide proof of a negative covid test taken within three calendar days of departure.

Note that this is not 72 hours but three days. As per the CDC guidelines: “For example, if a passenger’s flight is at 1pm on a Friday, the passenger could board with a negative test that was taken any time on the prior Tuesday or after.”

This can be a PCR test, nucleic amplification test (NAAT) or an antigen (lateral flow) test. The following information must be included on the test result certificate:

  • Type of test (PCR, antigen, etc)
  • Test issuer
  • Test swab date (this must be within three calendar days of departure)
  • Your full name plus at least one other identifier such as your date of birth or passport number
  • The test result (positive or negative)

Self-tests are allowed, provided they are taken under real-time supervision via a video call.

For US citizens and permanent residents, anyone who cannot demonstrate proof of full vaccination will need to take a test within one day of departure.

Children will be treated in the same manner as the adults they are travelling with, ie. can take a test within three days of departure if they are travelling with fully vaccinated adults or one day if travelling alone or with unvaccinated adults.

Details can be found on this page of the CDC website.

Don’t forget your ESTA!

If you want to travel to the United States don’t forget you are likely to need apply for an ESTA, the USA’s visa waiver program. An ESTA is valid for 2 years, so yours will probably have expired since you used it last.

You will also need a new ESTA if you have got a new passport since you last visited the US, even if your old ESTA is still valid.

The scheme applies to citizens of 40 countries including the United Kingdom who plan to remain for fewer than 90 days. There is a $14 application fee and the maximum turnaround time is three days, according to the official website.

You can apply for an ESTA on the official US Government website here.

Comments (158)

  • Lee says:

    Children are exempt but what age do USA class as a child ?

  • Graham says:

    Interesting that you must use supervised tests. How would they know either way? Is there something on the certificate that notes it?

    I’ve only used Randox PCR and Chronomics antigen so have no experience of the video testing. That’ll no doubt get quickly overwhelmed.

  • Andrew says:

    Do we expect BA and Virgin to increase capacity now – some routes are a bit thinly operated at the moment and flight prices for November reflect this.

    • Rhys says:

      Yes – they have already announced increases and the return of many routes.

      • Andrew says:

        Still a limited schedule to New York for November which is surprising

      • Lawrence says:

        Are the extra capacity bookable yet? I have been looking into a trip to that side of the water next year, and the routings have been suboptimal to say the least!

        • Rhys says:

          Can’t remember. You’ll know if they’re bookable if they’re bookable!

    • Richie says:

      The BA A380 being operated on LHR-DXB from December should free up a new densifid B773 with CS for a US route.

  • Aston100 says:

    The Russian vaccine isn’t listed, but the Chinese ones are.
    Strange politics.

    • Louise K says:

      Is it because WHO hasn’t approved the Russian one yet?

    • Rhys says:

      The WHO hasn’t authorised the Russian vaccine yet.

    • Harry T says:

      Which is funny, as Sputnik works and the Chinese ones mostly have very poor real world evidence.

      • BuildBackBetter says:

        That’s because the Chinese have taken up important roles in WHO

      • Ian M says:

        It’s not surprising. This is more about playing politics than caring about public health

      • Bagoly says:

        I have full faith that the Russian scientists are extremely competent.
        But after the switching of the drug samples at Sochi 2014 how can one trust any results from a Russian state organisation?
        When the Argentinian and other results are published, Sputnik will have more credibility.

  • Alex says:

    Do under 3s need to wear mask on flights from uk

  • The Canuck says:

    In a somewhat selfish way I’m sad the US is opening up. The 90% empty flights have been amazing for the last year and a half!

    • Andrew says:

      Very selfish indeed – many people want to travel and the aviation industry wants to survive.

      • The Canuck says:

        Not really my problem to be completely honest. This summer has basically been normal for my personal travel

        • Tony says:

          No you probably should give a stuff about the survival of airlines – that’s not happening if planes are 90% empty.

          • The Canuck says:

            Airlines are in nowhere near as precarious of a financial position as you think. Got to fire a whole bunch of people at the beginning, plus got tons of government money to prop them up. Now domestic and cross-border travel is as hot as ever.

            Really couldn’t have worked out better for them….

          • Rob says:

            BA gets to hire 3,000 new cabin crew on super cheap new contracts, plus ends the legacy cabin crew pay deal and – via the new Gatwick deal – has sown the seeds for the beginning of the end of premium pilot pay too.

            None of this really matters if the bankers on the £6k New York return tickets don’t come back of course.

      • John says:

        Not ideal in terms of carbon emitted per passenger either!

    • Liam says:

      I flew LAX to LHR last Tuesday and it was about 25% full. A few more people than when I did that same route in March. I’m flying back tomorrow (first VS flight in a few years) and the seat map suggests a similar story. It isn’t unpleasant.

      But, of course, I am glad the restrictions are being lifted. I was very lucky to get an NIE in March and then got married to an American about six weeks ago which allows me to make this trip now. I’m looking forward to being able to plan more trips back to the UK to see my parents but now also having people be able to come out and visit us in the US.

      I am a little intrigued to see the extent to which US immigration cares about checking vaccination. Right now it’s all on the airlines to stop you boarding a flight if you aren’t eligible to go to the US or if you’ve not done your pre-flight test. Once you actually land, they don’t care about any of that stuff. I suspect it will be similar when it comes to checking vaccination status from next month.

      • The Canuck says:

        No way CBP will care about vaccination. CDC press release already says Biden White House will work with airlines to ensure compliance. Just means more work being shifted to the check-in agents….

  • Grimz says:

    What price is a 3day LFT test for pre departure?

  • Tinsley Tim says:

    The “ Anyone who cannot demonstrate proof of full vaccination will need to take a test within 1 day of departure.” only applies to US citizens or legal permanent residents.

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