News Update

Here's who will be able to get into the US more easily — and whose trip just got harder

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The plans both loosen and tighten existing rules, depending on the country an international traveler is arriving from and their vaccination status.

Here’s what we know so far about what the new policy will mean:

The door is finally opening for people in countries affected by travel bans

Travel bans put in place early in the pandemic by presidential proclamations have barred foreign nationals arriving from China, Iran, Europe’s Schengen area, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Brazil, South Africa and India.

For the first time in more than a year in many cases, vaccinated foreign nationals who have been in those countries in the 14 days before entering the United States will soon be allowed in with proof of vaccination and a negative Covid-19 test taken within three days of their flight.

Unvaccinated travelers from other countries will no longer be allowed

The new rules will require adult foreign nationals to provide proof of vaccination and a negative Covid-19 test result taken within three days of their flight.

So the US door seems to be closing for unvaccinated travelers from other countries.

Unvaccinated US citizens and permanent residents will still be allowed in, with more stringent testing

Unvaccinated Americans are the exception, but they will be “subject to stricter testing requirements,” including a test within one day of their flight’s departure for the United States and an additional test when they return, Jeff Zients, the White House Covid-19 response coordinator, said on Monday.

Unvaccinated children will also be admitted, with additional testing

The more stringent requirements above for Americans who are not vaccinated “at this point, would obviously apply to children as well,” Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said in a Monday briefing.

Whether the same rules would apply to unvaccinated children from other countries is unclear.

The CDC defines the meaning of ‘fully vaccinated’

In this Sept. 14, 2021 file photo, a syringe is prepared with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at the Reading Area Community College in Reading, Pa.

The CDC has provided guidance on what it means to be “fully vaccinated.”

Matt Rourke/AP

“Fully vaccinated,” according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, includes those who have received vaccines approved for use in the United States as well as those listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization that may not yet have received such approval in the US, such as the AstraZeneca vaccine.

All international air travelers will be required to provide information for contact tracing

A forthcoming contact tracing order from the CDC “will require airlines to collect comprehensive contact information for every passenger coming to the United States and to provide that information promptly to the CDC, upon request, to follow up with travelers who have been exposed to Covid-19 variants or other pathogens,” Psaki said on Monday.

Arriving across US land borders is still prohibited

The closure of US land borders to nonessential travel, which started in March 2020, was extended on Monday through October 21, with “no further updates on that policy at this point,” Zients said.

Driving into the US from Mexico or Canada is not permitted for nonessential reasons.

Canada recently opened up its land border, as well as access by air, to vaccinated Americans.

Mexico has allowed foreign arrivals by air throughout the pandemic without testing or proof of vaccination.

Travelers arriving in the United States by air from Mexico and Canada currently are required to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test. Soon, that requirement will shift to proof of vaccination as well as a negative test.

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