USA Travel and Corona

In May 2023, the COVID vaccination requirement for international travelers to the USA was lifted! Find out what you still have to pay attention to when traveling to the USA.

Current note

Since May 12th, 2023, unvaccinated persons will again be allowed to enter the USA. Submit your ESTA application now to travel to the USA visa-free!


The official entry permit for the USA!

Who is allowed to travel to the USA?

Following the fall of the COVID-19 vaccination requirement, international visitors may once again travel to the United States regardless of their vaccination status. Up to and including May 11th, 2023, proof of full COVID vaccination was required for entry.

Even before the vaccination requirement was dropped, there were exemptions for certain travelers. These included Green Card holders and US citizens.


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.

Travel ban & co: the USA during the pandemic

In early 2020, the US government began implementing travel restrictions and entry bans to contain the spread of COVID-19. Initially, only visitors from China were banned from entering the United States. Later, the ban was expanded to include travelers from other countries, such as the 26 countries of the Schengen Area.

A new presidential proclamation in March 2020 suspended the entry of most foreign nationals if they had been in the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, China, and Iran in the 14 days before entering the United States.

These travel restrictions affected vacationers, expatriates, and foreign students alike. At times, those affected were only allowed to enter the country with a National Interest Exception (NIE) from the US government. Only US Green Card holders and US citizens were exempt from the travel restrictions, as was often the case.

Over time, the US government has periodically adjusted travel restrictions and entry requirements based on changing circumstances and public health considerations. Changes have included adding or removing countries from the list of prohibited areas and implementing testing and quarantine requirements.

Vaccination requirement in the US through May 2023

With the introduction of coronavirus vaccines, fully vaccinated international travelers from at-risk areas were finally allowed back across the US border.

Travelers were considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second dose of a two-dose vaccine series or two weeks after receiving a single dose of vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or on the WHO Emergency List.

Approved vaccines included:

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

Proof of complete vaccination was provided by a digital vaccination card with a QR code. An official paper vaccination card could also be presented.

Exceptions to the vaccination requirement for travel to the USA include:

  • US citizens
  • Green Card holders
  • Certain government employees
  • Children under the age of 18, and
  • Individuals who have been granted an official waiver.

Testing and quarantine requirements in the US

During the Corona pandemic, various testing and quarantine requirements were in place for travelers seeking to enter the United States. At times, the measures were changed on the fly:

  • Individuals traveling to the United States under a waiver without complete vaccine protection were required to undergo COVID-19 testing and be quarantined upon entry.
  • Repeat coronary testing was required 3 to 5 days after arrival in the United States.
  • Unvaccinated travelers were required to be quarantined for 7 days, even if the test was negative.
  • If a traveler tested positive or developed COVID-19 symptoms while in the United States, he or she had to be isolated. The duration of isolation could be determined using the CDC Quarantine and Isolation Calculator.
  • For a stay in the US of 60 days or more, full vaccination against COVID-19 was required within 60 days of arrival or as soon as medically appropriate.
  • Persons who were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 but whose vaccinations were not up to date were advised to quarantine for five days after entry into the United States and to follow the additional recommendations for all travelers to the United States.

All travelers were advised to self-monitor and isolate themselves if symptoms developed.

Throughout the full COVID-19 response in the United States, it was important for every traveler to receive daily updates from official agencies such as the U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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.


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