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Who can now travel to the US?

A White House official has confirmed that the US is set to reopen to foreign nationals from “early November” – but it will only be allowing entry to travellers who have had both Covid-19 vaccines.

Non-citizens visiting the United States will have to show proof of full vaccination as well as a negative Covid test taken within three days of departure, said Jeff Zients, the pandemic response coordinator for the White House.

“This new system allows us to implement strict protocols to prevent the spread of Covid from passengers flying internationally to the United States. Requiring foreign nationals travelling to the United States be fully vaccinated is based on public health,” said Zients at press briefing on Monday. “This is based on individuals rather than a country-based approach.”

According to Zients, the changes will take effect in “early November”, though no formal announcement has been made of an exact date.

Until then, the same travel ban that has been in place for the UK since March 2020 remains.

Here’s everything we know so far.

Who can currently travel to the US?

At present, US citizens and those with right of residence in the US can travel there from any country, along with foreign nationals from all countries outside of a select few barred in a presidential proclamation in January 2021 – as listed below.

On 25 January, President Joe Biden signed legislation banning foreign nationals arriving from several countries, including the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Ireland, and much of Europe, due to variants of concern.

This followed an earlier ban of arrivals from the UK in March 2020, by then-president Donald Trump, meaning the US has been shut off to British travellers for 18 months.

This is the full list of countries from which travellers cannot directly access the US:

  • China
  • Iran
  • European Schengen area: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City
  • United Kingdom: England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Brazil
  • South Africa
  • India

People from these countries with a compassionate reason to travel to the US – or whose presence is held to be “beneficial” to the American nation – may be granted permission.

Despite many other countries having more serious Covid case numbers, the US has remained open to arrivals from more than 100 other countries.

When will more non-resident travellers be able to enter the US?

From early November – exact date to be confirmed – the blanket travel ban will be lifted on fully vaccinated travellers only from the above 36 countries.

This means that foreign nationals from anywhere in the world will be able to visit, provided they can prove their fully vaccinated status.

Double jabbed travellers from these countries will then be able to enter on the normal terms: presenting a visa or an Esta (America’s online entry permit). They will not need to quarantine on arrival.

As well as the proof of vaccination, they will have to show proof of a negative Covid test taken in the three days before arrival, wear a mask for the journey over, and share their email address and phone number for contact tracing purposes.

The Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention is set to unveil a contact tracing order that will require airlines to collect this information on travellers coming into the US, with airlines permitted to hold this information for 30 days, CNN reports.


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