US to mandate vaccines for all foreign arrivals

By Chris Shieff

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The US Government has revealed big changes to entry requirements. From November 8, all non-US citizens/residents will need to be fully vaccinated to enter the US – from anywhere. For Americans, the rules around pre-travel testing will be tightened too.

Here’s a quick rundown of how this will all work.

For Foreigners

Starting November 8, any foreigner who wants to board a flight to the US will need to prove that they have been fully vaccinated. This means that they will need to have received a full dose of either an FDA or WHO approved vaccine at least a full 14 days prior.

FDA and WHO approved vaccines will be accepted.

Exemptions

Spoiler alert: there are hardly any. A very small list of unvaccinated foreigners will be allowed to enter.

This includes people participating in vaccine trials, those with medical conditions or anyone travelling on non-tourist visas from countries where vaccines aren’t readily available. Exemptions may also be granted for humanitarian or emergency reasons with approval from the US Government in the form of a letter.

Seven days of self-quarantine and additional testing may be required.

Don’t forget the kids.

Anyone under 18 will be exempt from the vaccine mandate. Instead they will need a pre-departure test. If their guardian(s) are fully vaccinated this can be done within three days of departure. If they’re travelling with an unvaccinated adult or alone, this is reduced to just one day.

For US Citizens and Residents

The vaccine mandate will not apply. But the rules around pre-travel testing are being tightened.

From the same date, any US citizen or resident who isn’t fully vaccinated will need to a negative viral test (PCR or Antigen) within just one day of departure. Those who have had the vaccine will still need to get a pre-travel test too. But they will have the existing three days to do so.

What about Crew?

Both foreign and local crew entering the US will be exempt from these new rules. Instead they will need to continue following existing CDC guidelines which you can read here.

Both foreign and US-based crew will be exempt from the new mandate.

Contact Tracing

There will also be a new requirement for air operators to collect contact information from all passengers and provide it to CDC ‘quick smart’ –  just in case they need to get in touch with anyone. More details on this are set to follow.

Travel Ban

November 8 is a big day for US borders for another reason too. For the first time since the start of the pandemic the entry ban on passengers from the UK, Ireland, much of Western Europe, China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, and India is finally being lifted. You can read more about that announcement in our recent article here.

Handy Links

The official Presidential announcement of the vaccine mandate.

The official CDC Guidance on the new rules, including a useful FAQ section.

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More on the topic:

More reading:

Chris Shieff

Chris Shieff

OPSGROUP team member and A320 pilot. Based in sunny Auckland, New Zealand. Question for us? Write to blog.team@ops.group.

4 Comments

  • Irish Nomad says:

    I tried getting a PCR in the US recently. It took 6 days to come back. In Germany it took 48 hours and Ireland it was 72. I am vaccinated but find it hard to believe that these time limits they have given can be achieved.

    • Chris Shieff says:

      Hi there – thanks for your message. I agree – getting test results back in time at the moment is a huge headache. The good news with the US rules is that the test only needs to be ‘viral’ which means a rapid antigen test is also okay. Typically these are much quicker than PCR tests.

  • Matt Clark says:

    The way I read the guidance on the CDC.gov website, unvaccinated children must be tested no more than 1 day before a flight’s departure to the USA starting on November 8th, 2021.

    The guidance above says “3 days” for kids.

    • Chris Shieff says:

      Hi Matt, thanks for reaching out. The time span for pre-travel testing depends on the vaccination status of the adults the kids are travelling with. If their guardian(s) are fully vaccinated then they can get a test done within 3 days. But if they’re travelling with someone who is unvaccinated, or they’re travelling alone this is reduced to just one day. Will amend the article to make this a little clearer – thanks for the head’s up!

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