Must-know COVID-19 Requirements For Air Travelers To The U.S

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed travel requirements for people entering the United States of America. It is no longer business as usual. 

The U.S. government wants to ensure the virus is curtailed and the new variant is not brought to the country by travelers. 

So, you can’t blame the government for enforcing strict rules for air travelers moving to the United States. It is what any responsible government would do. The travel requirements aren’t for non-citizens alone but for U.S. citizens too.

What are the requirements for air travelers moving to the United States of America in this time of the COVID-19 crisis? 

We’ll explain all the requirements for air travelers going to the United States of America to help you save time and clear any confusion you might have. 

Check out the requirements and other must-know information below. 

COVID-19 Entry Requirements For People Traveling To The United States Of America By Air

 The United States government has rolled out COVID-19 requirements for travelers entering the United States by air. The government didn’t shut the country’s door to visitors and its citizens. They are simply saying if you want to enter the United States, give us proof that you aren’t bringing COVID-19 to our country. 

Now, here are the requirements. 

#1: You must be fully vaccinated:

You must be fully vaccinated

Have you taken the coronavirus vaccine? Are you fully vaccinated? If the answer is no, scrap any plans to travel to the United States of America completely. 

Only fully vaccinated travelers can enter the U.S. The full vaccination gives an assurance that you’re not bringing the virus to the country to infect more people. 

What is fully vaccinated to the United States government?

Fully vaccinated means you took a shot of the single-dose vaccine 14 days ago or the second shot of a 2-dose COVID-19 vaccine 14 days ago. 

A Handy Tip: If you’re not a legal resident or U.S. citizen, you must show proof of vaccination before entering the country.  

#2: Travelers must take approved vaccine:

Travelers must take approved vaccine

Tons of vaccines have flooded the market since the coronavirus pandemic started. And while the swift response by the health sector and scientists to make the vaccine available is a commendable one, the United States government only wants travelers to take a certain brand of vaccine. 

So, if you are traveling to the United States or plan to travel soon, here are FDA approved vaccines the government accepts. 

  • Covaxin vaccine
  • Sinovac vaccine
  • Moderna vaccine
  • Covishield vaccine
  • J&J (Janssen) vaccine
  • AstraZeneca vaccine
  • Pfizer Bio-NTech vaccine
  • BIBP/Sinopharm vaccine

Please, keep in mind that these are the vaccines recognized and accepted by the United States government. We can’t stress this enough. Taking a different vaccine is as good as you haven’t been vaccinated to them. 

#3: Show proof of negative COVID-19 test:

Show proof of negative COVID-19 test

The United States government doesn’t accept all COVID-19 test results. Below are the test results the U.S. government has accepted since the coronavirus pandemic started. 

  • Antigen
  • HDA
  • LAMP
  • TMA
  • NEAR
  • RT-PCR
  • Nucleic Acid Amplification (NAAT)

However, if the coronavirus pandemic lingers, though we expect it to end soon, successive governments may enforce different travel requirements. 

The Joe Biden administration has rolled out stricter COVID-19 requirements. Antigen and PCR are now the only tests the U.S. government recognizes and accepts. 

Please note that the government recognizes the use of self-test. But it must adhere strictly to the guidelines set by the CDC.  

Do travelers need to present proof of tests? Yes.

Please keep in mind that before you embark on your journey to the United States by air, you must present your negative COVID-19 test report to the airline. 

You have to take the test a day or 24 hours before your departure. 

Now, you can see that the deadline for the test is tight. Anyway, that’s why antigen tests are preferable to PCR. 

The U.S. government accepts both tests. But the PCR test is more complex. You have to wait for several days for your PCR test result to be out. 

Luckily, the antigen COVID-19 test is quicker. You can get your test result within a few minutes (15 to 30 minutes). And this means you can take the test and get the result the same day. 

Is it possible for all antigen tests to pass the muster with CDC order? The answer is no.

Now, what does the CDC describes as a qualifying antigen test?

According to the CDC, an antigen test the government accepts consists of a telehealth service that’s affiliated with the company that made the test. 

In other words, the company has to supervise you remotely via video and audio while you take the test. That is the only way the U.S. government can accept the test result. 

So, if you’re 2 years of age or much older, get tested while preparing to travel to the United States of America. It is one of the requirements to board a plane to the United States. 

A Handy Tip: Travelers who don’t have negative COVID-19 test results, including completed contact tracing information and signed attestation, won’t be allowed to board a plane to the United States of America. 

Additionally, the negative test result requested for travelers going to the United States is not for foreign nationals and immigrants alone. It also includes U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPR).

#4: Documentation of recovery from COVID-19:

Documentation of recovery from COVID-19

If you have had contracted the coronavirus but recovered, you can still travel to the United States of America. 

However, you need to present documentation of recovery from the coronavirus. These include your positive coronavirus test result on a sample collected not more than 90 days before your flight leaves from another country. 

The authorities also expect travelers in this category to present a letter from a licensed public health official or healthcare provider stating they were cleared to travel. 

A Handy Tip: The authorities also require documentation of recovery from the coronavirus when legal residents and U.S. citizens travel to the United States of America by air. 

The documentation includes the traveler’s previous COVID-19 positive test result and a signed letter from a public health official or healthcare provider stating you are cleared for travel.  

What Proof Of Vaccination Status Entails

The United States government requires foreign nationals and U.S. citizens to present proof of vaccination status to their respective airline operators before traveling to the United States. 

Only fully vaccinated individuals can travel to the United States of America. Furthermore, the proof of vaccination status can be a digital record or paper document from an official source. It should include the traveler’s date of birth, official name, vaccine product, and date each vaccine was administered. 

Here Is A Summary Of What Proof Of Vaccination Truly Entails. 

If you happen to be a legal resident or citizen of the United States of America, you’re required to make available proof that you have been vaccinated for travel. 

Please remember that the U.S. authorities do not consider a booster dose as being vaccinated. 

Now, here are the boxes a proof of vaccination status should tick. 

  • The proof has your date of birth and official name.
  • You received the proof of vaccination from an official source (for example, the CDC)
  • The proof includes the vaccine product name and dates you took all doses. Please, check the vaccine products accepted. (Pfizer, Moderna, etc.)

Here is what acceptable forms of proof entail:

  • Paper vaccination certificate
  • COVID-19 vaccination record printout.
  • Vaccination certificate that boasts the QR code
  • Digital pass obtained through the Smartphone app (An example is the EU’s digital COVID certificate).
  • Digital photograph of your vaccination record or card
  • The downloaded version of the vaccination record or card got from an official source
  • Mobile phone applications without the QR code  

Understanding The Importance Of Mask-wearing

Most people traveling to the United States of America may wonder if they still need a face mask despite being fully vaccinated. 

So, is the mask still relevant for travelers? Well, yes, the mask is. Travelers must put on their masks during air travel, including in all U.S. airports. 

A Handy Tip: Wearing masks even when fully vaccinated is highly beneficial. The U.S authorities also made mask-wearing compulsory and expected travelers to comply. 

But if mask-wearing is not mandatory, you won’t be violating any rules for not wearing one in a U.S. airport. 

Conclusion

The COVID-19 requirements for air travelers to the U.S. used to be confusing. Many people have landed in the airport without relevant documents. 

We have put together a list of requirements for air travelers moving to the United States of America as the COVID-19 crisis lingers. We also promise to update this page now and then, as air travel requirement changes. 

So, now that you understand what the U.S. authority requires from air travelers going to the United States, we hope that you won’t leave out any important document when heading to the airport. Have a safe trip!

Elizabeth Willett (MA)
Elizabeth Willett (MA)
Elizabeth Willett has an M.A in health and fitness, is an experienced trainer, and enjoys teaching children about healthy eating habits. She loves to cook nutritious meals for her family.

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