On November 8, 2021, the Biden administration replaced the regional Covid-19 travel bans that had required temporary travelers to the United States from the Schengen area, the UK, Ireland, India, China, Brazil, and South Africa to acquire a national interest exception (NIE) waiver before they could travel to the United States. In its place, the president instituted a vaccination and testing requirement that applies to all nonimmigrants traveling to the United States by air. On December 6, 2021, in response to the Omicron variant, the government instituted stricter testing requirements. These requirements apply worldwide to those flying into the United States. For an overview of the vaccination and testing requirements, see our earlier post here.
The government’s new requirement focuses on vaccination and testing. In this post, we look at the specifics of the testing requirement. For a discussion specific to the vaccination requirements, see our post here.
General Information About the Covid-19 Testing Requirement for International Travel to the United States
Who does the new testing requirement apply to?
The new Covid-19 testing requirement applies to everyone two years and older who is traveling internationally into the United States. This includes everyone older than one, regardless of whether they are vaccinated: U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and immigrants and nonimmigrants traveling on a visa or ESTA.
The new testing requirement applies only to international travel. It does not apply to those who are traveling domestically within the United States. Those traveling domestically should check with their airline to confirm what requirements apply.
What is the testing requirement?
Starting on December 6, 2021, everyone traveling internationally into the U.S. who is two years old or older — including U.S. citizens and green card holders — must provide a negative Covid test result taken no more than one day before travel.
My child is not yet vaccinated, but I am. Does my child need to take a test one day before traveling?
Yes. All individuals traveling internationally into the U.S. who are two years old or older — including U.S. citizens and green card holders — must provide a negative Covid test result taken no more than one day before travel.
How can I show the airline that I am fully vaccinated?
In general the individual must show the airline verifiable digital or paper records (such as digital passes with a QR code), non-verifiable paper records (such as the CDC vaccination card), or non-verifiable digital records (such as a digital photo of a vaccination card) that shows the individual’s name and birthdate, that the document used to prove vaccination was issued by an official source (for example, a government agency or hospital), and that the vaccination given was actually a “full vaccination” as defined by the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and prevention (CDC).
The CDC will accept those vaccines approved by either the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the World Health Organization (WHO).
I have been fully vaccinated. Do I also need to provide proof of a negative test result?
Yes. Starting on December 6, 2021, everyone traveling internationally into the U.S. who is two years old or older — including nonimmigrants, green card holders, and even U.S. citizens — must provide a negative Covid test result taken no more than one day before travel.
What if I had Covid before? Do I still need to provide a negative test result?
If you had Covid and have a positive test result that is no more than 90 days old, you do not need to provide a negative test result. Instead, you may provide proof of the positive test result and a letter from a licensed practitioner or official stating you are able to travel.
Are there any exceptions to the testing requirement? Is there any way for me to travel into the U.S. without getting tested?
No. The only exception to the testing requirement is for individuals who are under two years old.
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