Due to China’s recent outbreak in COVID cases, the CDC has implemented new guidelines regarding travel from China and nearby regions to the US. Starting on January 5, 2023, airline passengers two years of age and older traveling from mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau, as well as travelers from certain designated foreign transit hubs (including those traveling from South Korea’s Incheon International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, or Vancouver International Airport) who have been in mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau within 10 days prior to departure, must provide either a negative COVID test taken within two days before departure or documentation of COVID recovery in order to travel to the United States.
The requirement will apply both to direct flights and to indirect flights via third-country transit, as well as to passengers transiting through the United States to other destinations.
Documents of COVID recovery includes a positive COVID test more than 10 days but less than 91 days prior to departure, or a positive test within 10 days prior to departure and documentation that COVID symptoms began more than 10 days before departure.
Travelers must present the required documentation of a negative test or recovery from COVID to airline personnel prior to boarding, and they must carry this documentation while traveling in the event the documentation is requested by U.S. government personnel or state or local health authorities. In addition, travelers must complete a required attestation, which must be retained by the airline.
The requirement will apply to all subject travelers regardless of nationality or vaccination status – including U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs). There is no exemption for diplomatic travel.
The following travelers are exempt from the requirement of a negative COVID test or proof of recovery from COVID:
- Passengers transiting mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau (if for a period of 24 hours or less);
- Passengers who have been in mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau for less than 24 hours;
- Airline crew members, and U.S. federal law enforcement personnel and U.S. military personnel traveling on official orders, subject to certain health and safety requirements; and
- Individuals for whom the CDC has approved a humanitarian exception, where emergency travel is required for health and safety (e.g., emergency medical evacuations) and there is insufficient time for pre-departure testing. The CDC guidance makes clear that humanitarian exceptions will be granted only in very limited circumstances, and on an extremely limited basis.
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