USA Travel and Corona

The US Travel Ban has been lifted

The United States has lifted the COVID-19-related entry bans. Fully vaccinated persons are thus allowed to travel to the USA again without detours. However, the COVID-19 testing guidelines remain strict: a negative test result may be no more than one day old.

Note

The Corona Travel Ban has been lifted! Submit your ESTA application now to travel to the USA visa-free!

ESTA

The official travel authorization for your trip to the USA!

Who is allowed to travel to the USA?

Individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and can provide proof may travel to the United States by air with an ESTA or visa. COVID-19 vaccination, testing, and quarantine requirements continue to apply to all US travelers.

COVID-19 vaccination for USA travel

Travelers are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose of a 2-dose vaccination series or two weeks after a single-dose vaccination with vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or listed on the WHO emergency list. Currently approved vaccines include:

  • Pfizer/BioNTech
  • Moderna
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • AstraZeneca
  • Covishield
  • BIBP/Sinopharm
  • Sinovac
  • Covaxin

Cross-vaccination with the approved vaccines is also considered a complete vaccination. Proof should ideally be provided via a digital vaccination certificate with a QR code, but an official paper vaccination certificate can also be delivered. We strongly recommend clarifying the desired form of proof with your airline before a flight.

Who is allowed to travel to the US unvaccinated?

Exemptions from the vaccination requirement for US travel apply to:

  • US citizens
  • Green Card holders
  • Diplomats, government officials, and their family members traveling in visa categories A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3, E-1 TECRO/TECO, G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, and NATO 1 - NATO 6, and representatives of the UN
  • Crewmembers (air or sea lines) traveling in visa categories C-1/D
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses and children (under 18 years of age)
  • Children under 18 years of age
  • Individuals who have an official waiver from the US government due to a medical or humanitarian emergency
  • Individuals whose entry is in the National Interest of the United States ("National Interest Exception")
  • Participants in certain COVID-19 vaccine trials with official proof of eligibility
  • Nationals of countries with limited availability of COVID-19 vaccines entering with certain visa categories
  • Individuals who have an officially confirmed COVID-19 vaccine contraindication medical condition

For more information on exemptions from the vaccination requirement for US travelers, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

Visit the CDC's FAQ section for detailed definitions of medical emergencies, humanitarian emergencies, and the National Interest Exception (NIE).

Travelers who fall under one of the exceptions and are allowed to travel to the United States unvaccinated are subject to more stringent post-entry testing and quarantine requirements than vaccinated travelers.

Can children travel to the USA unvaccinated?

Children under the age of 18 (i.e., ages 0-17 at the time of travel) fall under CDC exemptions and may travel to the United States by air unvaccinated.

Testing and quarantine for travel to the USA

All travelers two years of age and older will need either a negative COVID-19 test no more than one day old or proof of recovery no more than 90 days ago to enter the USA.

The testing and quarantine requirements before and after entry into the US are as follows:

 

USA trip with vaccination

USA trip without vaccination

Test required 24 hours before entry?

Yes

Yes

Second test required after entry?

recommended

3 - 5 days after arrival

(see exceptions[1])

Quarantine in case of a negative test result?

 No  

7 days  

(see exceptions[2])

Quarantine required in case of a positive test result?

With symptoms: 10 days 

Without symptoms: 5 days

With symptoms: 10 days 

Without symptoms: 5 days

COVID-19 vaccination after entry?  No  

Must be done no later than after 60 days in the US 

(see exceptions[3])

 

Exceptions to testing and quarantine requirements

[1] Exceptions to the testing requirement 3 - 5 days after arrival in the United States apply to unvaccinated US citizens, Green Card holders, US military personnel, airline crewmembers, and persons with COVID-19 recovery certificates who can demonstrate that they have not been recovered for more than 90 days.

[2] Exceptions from the 7-day quarantine even with a negative test result apply to US citizens, Green Card holders, US military personnel, airline crewmembers, children under 18 years of age, COVID-19 vaccine study participants, or COVID-19 convalescents with a documented history of recovery no longer than 90 days.

[3] Exceptions from mandatory vaccination after a maximum of 60 days in the USA apply to US citizens, Green Card holders, US military personnel, airline crew members, persons with medical contraindication, and children under 18 years of age.

Airline crewmembers flying under C-1/D visa categories are exempt from the COVID-19 testing requirement for US travel, subject to certain conditions.

Please note that the requirements vary by US state. Check local testing and quarantine rules before entering a US state. Full details can be found on the CDC website.

For more on the COVID-19 testing requirement or proof of recovery, click here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html

Using the CDC's online tool, you can quickly find out what requirements apply to you once you enter the United States by answering a few questions.

The CDC's infographic also provides a handy overview of current regulations.

Note

As the current situation in the USA is very dynamic, it is not possible to make any general statements about all rules and restrictions. Before each trip to the United States, find out about the current entry requirements on a daily basis - ideally via the website of your airline.

Details on COVID testing for USA travel

A submitted COVID-19 test must not be older than one day. The decisive factor here is the departure time. Different rules may apply for connecting flights and connections over 24 hours, which you can read on the CDC website.

Will I be denied entry if I do not present a negative Corona test?

Instead of a negative COVID-19 test, you can also present proof that you have recovered from COVID-19. If neither is provided, airlines are encouraged to deny you boarding.

In what form must a negative COVID-19 test be presented?

Evidence of a negative COVID-19 test must meet the following requirements:

  • All documents must contain personal identifiers such as name and date of birth that match the personal information in your passport.
  • The test must be a PCR test or antigen test.
  • The test must not be older than one day.
  • The test result states “NEGATIVE,” “SARS-CoV-2 RNA NOT DETECTED,” “SARS-CoV-2 ANTIGEN NOT DETECTED,” or “COVID-19 NOT DETECTED.” A test marked “invalid” won’t be accepted.
  • Details of the tester (physician, test center/laboratory) must be evident.
  • Documents can be submitted in both written and digital form. We recommend carrying a printed copy of all documents in your hand luggage to be on the safe side.

What happens if my flight is delayed?

If your flight is delayed so much that your test will be beyond the required period before departure, you will need to be retested.

In what format must I provide proof of recovery?

Documents proving that you have already recovered from COVID-19 must meet the following requirements:

  • All documents must contain personal identifiers such as name and date of birth that match the information in your passport.
  • The confirmation of your recovery must be an official letter with letterhead, contact information, and signature from your doctor or health care provider, who will allow you to travel as planned.
  • The documents must also include proof of the positive test. In this case, the COVID-19 test must not be older than 90 days.
  • Your positive COVID-19 test must be a viral detection test for current infection (i.e., a nucleic acid amplification test or a viral antigen test) approved or authorized by the relevant national authority for the detection of SARS-CoV-2. The test result must state “NEGATIVE,” “SARS-CoV-2 RNA NOT DETECTED,” “SARS-CoV-2 ANTIGEN NOT DETECTED,” or “COVID-19 NOT DETECTED.” A test marked “invalid” won’t be accepted. Details of the tester (physician, test center/laboratory) must also be evident.
  • The documents can be submitted in both written and digital form. We recommend that you carry a printed copy of all documents in your hand luggage as a precaution.

In which language do I have to present the supporting documents?

So far, no official language regulations have been communicated. Since the airlines are responsible for collecting passenger data, test results, and supporting documents, it is currently assumed that you can submit all documents in your local language.

Can I submit documents for a family or travel group collectively?

For each traveler two years of age or older, a separate statement must be submitted. For those under the age of 18, documents may be submitted by immediate family members or through a legal guardian.

Nevertheless, the above requirements for documents regarding the form, dates, and age of a COVID-19 test also apply.

How do I submit my documents before the flight?

Your airline will ask you to complete a passenger certificate and take a test or submit all required documentation a few days before your flight.

Since processes vary from airline to airline, please follow the instructions on your airline's website or contact them directly.

Data collection for US travel

Airlines require the following information from US travelers prior to their departure:

  • Written confirmation (Passenger Attestation Statement) of the accuracy of the information provided prior to departure and in compliance with further requirements on site.
  • Personal data for the CDC Data Collection (for contact tracing) - this includes names, US addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses

Entry into the USA by land

Entry across the Canadian or Mexican land border is possible again for international travelers fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Children under 18 years of age, US citizens, and Green Card holders may enter unvaccinated.

In addition, for certain other groups without vaccination, there is a transition period until January 2022, during which urgent travel ("essential travel") is possible.

Can I currently apply for an ESTA?

Yes, you can submit an ESTA application for your trip to the USA at any time. An ESTA entry permit is valid for 2 years and can be used for multiple entries within this period. Although VISA applications currently involve a longer waiting time due to the high volume at US consulates and embassies, ESTA applications are still processed promptly, so you will receive your entry permit after 72 hours at the latest.

The background to the Corona restrictions in the USA

In March 2020, former President Trump had declared a national emergency, and several states imposed lockdowns. Public life came to a complete standstill with the closure of restaurants, casinos, theaters and more. Public schools were also closed nationwide, and almost all universities and colleges switched to online courses.

The Travel Ban imposed a short time later for all countries in the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, China (incl. Hong Kong and Macau), Iran, and India was repeatedly extended in several steps and supplemented by additional countries.

For travel to the USA from the countries affected by the Travel Ban, the so-called 14-day rule applied. According to this rule, you were not affected by the entry ban if you originated from one of the risk areas but had stayed elsewhere for 14 days.

Sources:
cdc.gov, travel.state.gov, auswaertiges-amt.de

Apply for ESTA now