Requirements for Air Travelers to the U.S.

COVID-19 Travel
November 27, 2021

Requirements for Air Travelers to the U.S.

Updated Requirements for Air Travelers to the U.S. due to COVID-19 and the Omicron Variant

On November 26, and at the advice of the President’s Chief Medical Advisor and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Administration announced it will restrict travel from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe starting on November 29 due to concerns over the new Omicron variant. These travel restrictions do not apply to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and certain other categories of travelers. The full text of the Proclamation is available on the White House website. Travel Advisories for each of these countries are Level 4 – Do Not Travel – in line with CDC Travel Health Notifications (THNs) and given flight cancellations in some countries.

Please see the CDC website for further information on the Omicron Variant.

CDC Order

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Order, which took effect November 8, 2021, requiring all  non-immigrant, non-citizen air travelers to the United States to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of vaccination status prior to boarding an airplane to the United States remains in effect. Travelers should monitor the CDC website on international travel for the latest guidance regarding testing requirements.

Exceptions to the CDC Order requiring all air passengers to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of vaccination status prior to boarding an airplane to the United States are  extremely limited to the following groups:

  • children under 18
  • people medically unable to receive the vaccine
  • emergency travelers who do not have timely access to a vaccine

Humanitarian exemptions to the CDC order are granted on an extremely limited basis.

U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) who are eligible to travel but are not fully vaccinated will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test one (1) day before their flight’s departure. U.S. citizens and LPRs who are fully vaccinated will need to present airlines with proof of vaccination and of a negative COVID-19 test three (3) days before their flight.

For additional information, please visit our FAQs for answers to questions about the requirement for proof of negative COVID-19 test or recovery from COVID-19 for all air passengers arriving in the United States.

The CDC recommends that you do not travel internationally until you are fully vaccinated. International travel poses additional risks, and even fully vaccinated travelers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some COVID-19 variants. Delay travel and stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. If you do travel, follow all CDC recommendations before, during, and after travel.


Country Specific COVID-19 Updates

Global COVID-19 conditions are dynamic. U.S. citizens who choose to travel internationally may encounter mandatory COVID-19 testing requirements, quarantines, travel restrictions, and closed borders. Foreign governments in any country may implement restrictions with little notice. 

If you do travel internationally, be sure to make contingency plans as your trip may be severely disrupted and it may be difficult to arrange travel back to the United States.

The Department of State provides country-specific information and advice regarding COVID-19.  We update these resources whenever we receive new information, so please review these resources frequently:

If you are planning to travel overseas or if you are currently overseas and planning to return to the United States, you should contact your airline for specific information about testing requirements for travelers. Because airlines may adopt and modify their own specific policies to implement the CDC’s testing rule, you should contact the carrier for your U.S.-bound flight and not rely on information from other carriers or information or experience from previous trips.


Information for Vaccinated Travelers Going Overseas

Your risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing severe symptoms may be lower if you are fully vaccinated with an FDA authorized vaccine. You still may be able to spread COVID-19 even if you are fully vaccinated.  

Travelers should consult with their personal physician if they have specific questions or concerns regarding their individual medical situation.   

If you are fully vaccinated and are planning international travel, please consider the following:

  • The CDC order requiring pre-departure testing to travel or return to the U.S. applies to all air travelers, even those who are fully vaccinated.  

  • If you test positive before travel to the United States, you will be denied boarding and may have to undergo a mandatory quarantine at your overseas location.  Unexpected delays or quarantines may result in unexpected expenses for the traveler.  Have a plan in case you have to remain overseas longer than anticipated. This includes being ready to cover additional lodging costs, flight ticket change fees, and any other additional expenses they may incur due to the unexpected extension. Travelers may find it difficult to access general medical care in another country as the pandemic has strained health care capacity in some areas.  

  • Border closures, airline disruptions, and other local restrictions may occur and could adversely impact your travel plans.  

The CDC recommends that you do not travel internationally until you are fully vaccinated. Please review additional CDC guidance for fully vaccinated travelers.  

The Department of State recommends U.S. citizens who travel internationally purchase travel insurance. To learn more, please visit this page.


How to get a Vaccine in the United States

Travelers who wish to get vaccinated after they arrive to the United States should visit or call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 888-720-7489) to find a nearby location.


Cruise Ship Passengers

The CDC recommends U.S. citizens traveler who are not fully vaccinated should avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide.  Passengers who are not fully vaccinated are more likely to get COVID-19, which can spread more easily on cruise ships. The CDC notes there is increased risk of infection of COVID-19 on cruise ships. Many countries have implemented strict screening procedures and mandatory quarantines, which may cause unexpected delays and expenses. 

Passengers with plans to travel by cruise ship should contact their cruise line companies directly for further information, continue to monitor the website, and read the latest information from the CDC.


U.S. Students Abroad

The CDC recommends  institutes of higher education (IHE) consider postponing or canceling upcoming student foreign exchange programs. In addition, the CDC recommends IHE consider asking current program participants to return to their home country. .