COVID-19 Travel to the United States: International Travel Restrictions May Be Eased from November 2021

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On September 20, 2021 the international press began to report that the U.S. government plans to ease travel restrictions for fully vaccinated visitors flying internationally into the United States beginning in November 2021. However, to date, the official U.S. government policy has not been released.

What were the previous entry restrictions?

Since March 2020, travellers who have been in the European Schengen countries or the United Kingdom (as well as some other countries specified, including India, China and South Africa) within the preceding 14 days have been banned from flying directly into the United States unless they were either a U.S. citizen, a green card holder, or an applicable family member, or they first applied for and received a National Interest Exception (NIE).

If the United States does ease restrictions in early November 2021, it is anticipated that the NIE will no longer be required from travellers from specified countries, which are anticipated to include the United Kingdom and Schengen countries.

What might the rules be from November 2021?

Subject to official confirmation, from November international travellers are expected to be able to fly directly into the United States from the specified countries, provided:

  • They are fully vaccinated by a recognized COVID-19 vaccine and can provide suitable evidence of that vaccination prior to boarding their flight; and
  • They can provide evidence of a suitable negative COVID test result taken within 3 days prior to boarding their flight.

Which vaccines will be recognized?

So far, the U.S. government has not clarified what will constitute suitable evidence of vaccination and which COVID-19 vaccines will be recognized beyond the three already authorized in the United States (Pfizer/BionNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson).

Most people in the UK who have been vaccinated have received either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines. While there are indications that the AstraZeneca vaccine should be added to the list of recognized vaccines, because it is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO), the final determination in relation to vaccine recognition will be made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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