Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, vaccination is not required for air travel to and from the U.S. However, those who have not been fully vaccinated are advised against traveling internationally.
Those not fully vaccinated who must travel should get tested for COVID-19 three to five days after their travels, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises.
Those flying into the U.S. are required to have a negative COVID-19 viral test no more than three days before traveling, or show proof of recovery from the virus in the past three months before boarding their U.S.-bound flight, according to the health body.
The CDC says: “Do not travel internationally until you are fully vaccinated. If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, follow CDC’s international travel recommendations for unvaccinated people.”
Americans are also told not to travel if they have been exposed to COVID-19, are ill, test positive for COVID-19, or are awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test. “Don’t travel with someone who is sick,” the CDC adds.
“The COVID-19 situation, including the spread of new or concerning variants, differs from country to country, and even fully vaccinated travelers need to pay close attention to the situation at their destination before traveling,” the CDC says.
Travel advice for those not fully vaccinated
Those not fully vaccinated who must travel internationally are advised to take the following steps, as outlined by the CDC.
Before you travel
- Get tested with a COVID-19 viral test one to three days before your trip.
- Be aware of all airline requirements and other rules related to traveling, testing and quarantine procedures in your destination, which may differ from U.S. requirements. “If you do not follow your destination’s requirements, you may be denied entry and required to return to the United States,” the CDC warns.
- Check the status of the COVID-19 outbreak in your destination. There are nearly 150 destinations that fall within the CDC’s highest risk assessment level for COVID-19 (Level 4: COVID-19 Very High). “Travelers should avoid all travel to these destinations,” the CDC says. See the CDC website for the latest travel advice for different destinations.
During your travels
- Wear a mask over your nose and mouth. Face coverings are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the U.S. as well as in airports, stations and other U.S. transportation hubs.
- Avoid crowds and maintain a distance of at least six feet (about two arm lengths) from those who are not traveling with you.
- Wash your hands often, or use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
Before returning to the U.S.
- The CDC states: “All air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 viral test result no more than three days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past three months before they board a flight to the United States.”
After your travels
- Travelers are advised to get tested for COVID-19 with a viral test “3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel,” the CDC says. See the website of your state, territorial, tribal, and local health department for information on where to get tested.
- Even those who test negative should stay home and self-quarantine for seven days after travel. “If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected,” the health body says.
- Those who don’t get tested are told to stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days following their travels.
- Avoid being around those who are at higher risk for severe illness for 14 days, regardless of whether you get tested or not.
- Monitor yourself for any COVID-19 symptoms. Isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
- Follow all state and local post-travel recommendations or requirements.
Travel advice for fully vaccinated people
- While fully vaccinated people are less likely to get infected and spread the virus, “international travel poses additional risks and even fully vaccinated travelers are at increased risk for getting, and possibly spreading, new COVID-19 variants,” the CDC warns.
- Those who have been fully vaccinated with a vaccine authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should “continue to follow CDC’s recommendations for traveling safely and get tested 3-5 days after travel,” the health body notes.
- Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to get tested before departing the U.S. “unless your destination requires it,” and you also don’t need to self-quarantine after arriving in the U.S., the CDC says.
See the CDC website for more information on traveling amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
CDC advises against all travel to these destinations
(Places with a “Level 4: COVID-19 Very High” risk assessment warning, as per the CDC)
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Bahamas, The
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Burma (Myanmar)
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- Congo, Republic of the
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Dominican Republic
- Easter Island
- French Guiana
- Israel, including the West Bank and Gaza
- Isle of Man
- Ivory Coast
- Madeira Islands
- Martinique (France)
- Mayotte (France)
- Netherlands, The
- North Macedonia
- Papua New Guinea
- Puerto Rico (U.S.)
- Saint Barthelemy
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Martin
- San Marino
- São Tomé and Príncipe
- Saudi Arabia
- South Africa
- South Sudan
- Turks and Caicos Islands (U.K.)
- United Arab Emirates
- Virgin Islands, U.S.
The wider picture
Coronavirus has infected more than 147.2 million people since it was first reported in Wuhan, China, including over 32 million in the U.S.
More than 3.1 million people have died worldwide while more than 84.9 million have recovered as of Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The graphic below, produced by research provider Statista, shows the total number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered per 100 people across different countries.