USA Travel and Corona

The United States has lifted the COVID-19 testing requirement for travelers from abroad. However, the general vaccination requirement remains in place.

Current note

As of June 12th, 2022, you no longer need a negative COVID-19 test result or proof of recovery from COVID-19 to enter the USA! Submit your ESTA application now to travel to the USA visa-free!

ESTA

The official entry permit for the USA!

Who is allowed to travel to the USA?

Individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and can provide proof of this may travel to the USA with an ESTA or visa.

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 post-entry testing and quarantine requirements.

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 unvaccinated.

Testing and quarantine for travel to the USA

The USA has lifted the COVID-19 pre-entry COVID testing requirement. However, those traveling to the United States under a waiver without full vaccination will still be required to test for COVID-19 and undergo isolation upon arrival.

Testing and quarantine requirements for the unvaccinated

The current requirements for COVID-19 testing and quarantine after entering the USA as an unvaccinated individual with a waiver are as follows:

  • Get tested with a viral test 3 - 5 days after arriving in the US.
  • Stay at home or in your hotel room and quarantine yourself for a full 7 days, even if your test is negative.

Neither rule applies if you can show that you have recovered from COVID-19 in the last 90 days.

Testing positive for COVID-19 or showing symptoms while in the USA

If you test positive or develop COVID-19 symptoms, you must isolate yourself. Find out the length of isolation by using the CDC's Quarantine and Isolation Calculator.

Vaccination requirement for a stay in the USA of 60 days or more

If you intend to stay in the United States for 60 days or more, get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 within 60 days of arrival (or as soon as medically appropriate).

Vaccination no longer up to date: What to do?

If you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but your vaccinations are not up to date, quarantine yourself for 5 days after entering the United States and follow the additional recommendations for all travelers to the United States.

A general recommendation for all US travelers

The USA recommends that all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, be tested for current infection 3-5 days after arrival with a COVID-19 virus test.

Monitor yourself. If you develop symptoms, isolate yourself and get tested. If your test result is positive, continue to isolate yourself to protect others from infection.

Exceptions for those who have recovered

Suppose you have recovered from a documented COVID-19 infection within the past 90 days. In that case, you are not required to be tested or placed in isolation after entering the United States (you are only required to do so if you develop symptoms).

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.

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 papers 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 the 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 forms. 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.

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.

News

Since October 2022, you have to apply for an ESTA to enter the US by land. Previously, the ESTA requirement only applied to travel by air or sea, while car and train travelers crossed the border with a hand-filled I-94 entry form. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has now decided to standardize the ESTA program.

Apply for your ESTA now to travel to the USA visa-free.

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.

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

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