On Monday, the United States will lift travel restrictions for international travelers from 33 countries who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, ending an 18-month ban that has separated families and loved ones worldwide and taken a toll on the tourism industry. The reopening comes just ahead of the holiday season, and airlines are anticipating some chaos.
The complicated set of regulations may shift if new waves or variants of the virus emerge, but here is what we know right now about the long-awaited reopening.
Who is eligible to travel to the United States?
Under the new rules, fully vaccinated travelers will be allowed to enter the United States if they can show proof of vaccination and a negative coronavirus test taken within three calendar days of travel. Unvaccinated Americans and children under 18 are exempt from the requirement, but must take a coronavirus test within 24 hours of travel.
What vaccines are accepted?
The three available in the United States — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — are accepted, as well as any of those cleared for emergency use by the World Health Organization: AstraZeneca, Covaxin, Covishield, BIBP/Sinopharm and Sinovac.
Who is considered “fully vaccinated”?
Anyone who has received either the first dose of a single-dose vaccine or the second dose of a two-dose vaccine a full 14 days before the day they board a flight to the United States is considered fully vaccinated.
It does not matter if you received these doses in a clinical trial, as long as you did not receive the placebo. People who received their second shot of the Novavax vaccine in a Phase 3 clinical trial are also fully vaccinated.
Lastly, the C.D.C. considers anyone fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose of an accepted “mix-and-match” vaccine, with the doses given at least 17 days apart. The agency notes it does not recommend mixing and matching during the first series of vaccination (for example, the first two shots of an mRNA vaccine), but acknowledges this strategy is more common internationally.
What do I need to pack as proof of my vaccination?
Both paper and digital records of vaccination will be accepted. If you do not have your original record, such as a vaccination card, a copy or photo will also work. Any proof of vaccination must include your full name and at least one more identifier, such as date of birth and the name of the agency or provider issuing the vaccine. It must also include the vaccine manufacturer and dates of vaccination.
Are the rules different at land border crossings?
As of Nov. 8, the U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico will reopen for fully vaccinated foreign nationals. While visitors will need to show proof of vaccination, there is no testing requirement for land-border crossings. Children under 18 are allowed entry if accompanied by a vaccinated adult.
Will I have to show proof of vaccination to fly domestically?
No. As of Nov. 8., only those entering the United States from abroad will have to show a vaccination certificate and proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours of departure. Unvaccinated U.S. travelers are permitted to travel, but upon returning must present a coronavirus test taken within 24 hours of departure.
Masks continue to be required for domestic air travel.
What about children?
Unvaccinated children under 18 are permitted to enter the United States if they are over 2 years old, are traveling with a vaccinated adult and have taken a coronavirus test with negative results within three days of departure. If a child is traveling alone or with an unvaccinated adult, he or she will have to test within 24 hours of travel.