USA Entry and Travel Requirements

USA Entry Requirements specify the rules that one needs to follow for issues-free entry to the United States. These requirements determine the types of documentation necessary to obtain prior to the trip, like a valid passport and visa. 

The United States visa policy is common for all 50 states but may slightly differ between some US territories, including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Moreover, different visa requirements may apply to the territories of Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands. 

Depending on the traveler's nationality, travel purpose, and planned duration of stay, different visa types may be necessary. Travelers coming from a few certain countries, including Canada, do not need to obtain a visa or any travel authorization to enter the United States for some period of time. 

Moreover, citizens of around 40 different countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program do not need to apply for a US visa as they are eligible for the electronic authorization known as US ESTA.

Individuals coming from non-visa-exempt countries must visit the nearest US Embassy in person and obtain a regular visa. Travelers planning longer stays in the US, or their travel purposes are different from leisure, are also required to apply for an embassy or consular visa.

Currently, the USA maintains the visa ban on citizens of Libya, Somalia, the Syrian Arabic Republic, and Yemen.

The USA introduced some protective measures to ensure the safety of foreign travelers and American citizens when traveling amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. All travelers who wish to visit the States soon should check on the current entry requirements to make their trip and stay hassle-free. Apart from testing, vaccination, and quarantine requirements, every traveler should also remember to check the visa requirements and consider buying travel insurance. 

Please note: Since the Covid-19 situation is still evolving and unpredictable, most governments are constantly updating the travel and entry restrictions. Do remember to check on the recent entry protocol before traveling to the United States, obtain all required documents and enjoy smooth entry to the country.

Important Updates!

  •  As of 12 June 2022, travelers arriving in the US no longer need to provide a pre-departure negative Covid-19 test result. Read more on the recent changes in our news.
  • The latest update in the US entry restrictions concerns vaccination requirements - effective as of 12th May 2023, all foreign travelers will be allowed to travel to the States, irrespective of the COVID-19 vaccination status. Check more details here

Who can enter the USA?

  • vaccinated and unvaccinated foreign travelers 
  • unvaccinated underage foreign travelers
  • unvaccinated US citizens and lawful permanent residents

Documents check-list for entering the USA

  • proof of vaccination status (for adult foreign travelers)
  • a pre-departure test (PCR) (no longer necessary)
  • a CDC Contact Tracing Form

You may also need:

  • an ESTA
  • travel insurance
  • proof of recovery from Covid-19

USA Travel Requirements

The USA Government issued the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Order on the 8th of November, 2021 stating that all incoming foreign travelers aged 18 and over must be fully vaccinated to enter the United States.

Moreover, both foreign travelers, as well as US citizens and permanent residents, must take a PCR Covid-19 viral test within 24 hours of their arrival in the US.

Another Covid-19-related requirement is completing the CDC Contact Tracing Form within 72 hours of arrival.

Besides that, foreign travelers must adhere to the USA visa policy regulating which countries can visit the USA visa-free, which can use the obtainable online ESTAs, and which must apply for regular visas.

Testing, Vaccination, and Quarantine Requirements

Vaccination

The CDC requires all air passengers that are not US citizens/residents to be fully vaccinated upon entering the United States.

Make sure to prepare your proof of vaccination before departing to the USA. The vaccination must be made by an authorized vaccine provider.

Exceptions:

  • children under the age of 18
  • travelers who cannot get vaccinated based on medical reasons
  • emergency travelers

Please note that the CDC grants humanitarian exemptions on an extremely limited basis.

Testing

Fully vaccinated travelers still need to take a Covid-19 test before departure. Exempted are travelers who have been recently tested positive and can prove that they have recovered from Covid-19, as well as children under the age of 2.

Proof of vaccination alone is not enough to enter the United States during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Moreover, all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, are advised to get tested within 3-5 days of their arrival.

Travelers who have within the last 90 days recovered from Covid-19, do not need to adhere to the current testing requirements (taking a test within 3-5 days of arrival), nor do they need to quarantine.

Quarantine

There are a few instances in which incoming travelers should quarantine after arrival into the United States.

Not fully vaccinated travelers entering the US under an exemption

Travelers entering the United States under an exemption should get tested upon arrival and then self-isolate for a minimum of 7 days even if they have a negative test result. Self-isolation and after-arrival testing can be skipped only for travelers who have proof of recovering from Covid within the last 90 days.

If you do test positive after arrival into the US, you must isolate to avoid spreading the disease further and recover.

Fully vaccinated travelers not up to date with their vaccines

Fully vaccinated travelers who are not up to date with their vaccines (not taken a booster shot if eligible) are recommended to self-isolate for 5 days of their arrival into the US.

Recommended for all travelers

All travelers, regardless of vaccination status, are recommended to self-monitor for any Covid-19 like symptoms and get tested within 3-5 days of arrival. Should you develop any of the symptoms get tested again and isolate to protect others.

Traveling from the United States

The CDC advises US citizens and residents to avoid traveling internationally unless they are fully vaccinated.

Even then, all travelers should take caution when traveling internationally and take notice of the applicable entry requirements, as well as the testing and vaccination rules of other countries.

International travels from the United States are possible. All US citizens and residents should adhere to the applicable entry requirements of the country they plan on visiting.

All travelers leaving the United States are advised to get a pre-departure Covid-19 test (within 3 days of departure) if they are not fully vaccinated or are not up to date with their vaccines (not taken a booster shot if eligible).

Traveling to the United States

Travel Rules for foreign travelers visiting the US

Foreign travelers planning a trip to the United States must be fully vaccinated unless under the age of 18 or otherwise exempted. Moreover, you will need to take a Covid-19 test before departure.

Testing on arrival is generally required for all travelers and in some cases even mandatory along with a 7-day quarantine period.

Make sure to also fill out the CDC Contact Tracing Form, check if you will need a visa or an ESTA, check your passport's validity, and consider getting travel insurance before your trip to the US.

Rules for US citizens/residents coming back to the country

US citizens or residents going back to the United States from a trip abroad do not need to be fully vaccinated.

However, such travelers still need to take a pre-departure Covid-19 test, fill out the CDC Contact Tracing Form, and adhere to all after-arrival rules applicable to their specific situation.

Entry Rules for Children

Children visiting the United States do not need to be fully vaccinated to enter.

However, all underage travelers aged 2 and older need to have a negative Covid-19 test result taken prior to departure.

Transit through the United States - rules during the Covid-19 pandemic

The same rules apply to travelers transiting through the United States as for all other types of entry during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Meaning, foreign travelers must prepare a proof of being fully vaccinated, get tested before departure, and complete the CDC Contact Tracing Form.

You may also need to apply for the regular US transit visa at one of the US Embassies or apply online for an ESTA (if your country takes part in the US Visa Waiver Program).

The USA Visa Requirements

Visa-free

The following countries may enter the United States on a visa-free basis, some under a few specific conditions met:

The Compact of Free Association

  • The Marshall Islands
  • Micronesia
  • Palau

Neighboring Jurisdictions:

  • Canada
  • Bermuda

Specific conditions must be met:

  • The Bahamas
  • The British Virgin Islands
  • The Cayman Islands
  • The Turks and Caicos Islands

Limited categories, strict conditions to meet:

  • Mexico

US Visa Waiver - ESTA

The US Visa Waiver Program has been introduced to help the US Government in registering the incoming visitors prior to their arrival. Citizens of dozens of countries included in the US Visa Waiver Program are eligible to travel to the US with an ESTA.

ESTA - Electronic System for Travel Authorization is an electronic multiple-entry travel authorization that's issued for 2 years and allows its holders to stay in the US numerous times for up to 90 days each time.

Regular Visa Required

Numerous countries still require a regular, Embassy-issued visa to enter the United States. Embassy visas for the US come in dozens of types and can be divided into non-immigrant and immigrant ones.

The US CDC Contact Tracing Form

Since the 25th of October, 2021, all foreign travelers, as well as US citizens and residents must complete the CDC Contact Tracing Form within 72 hours of their scheduled arrival in the United States.

The CDC Contact Tracing Form requires travelers to provide the following information:

  • their flight details (airline name, flight number)
  • departure details (date and time of departure, departure airport code)
  • arrival airport code
  • personal information (name and surname, date of birth)
  • contact information (phone number, email address)
  • passport details, including passport number
  • details of the stay in the US (address for the stay)
  • contact details of accompanying passengers

Travelers completing the form must then check two boxes:

  1. 'I understand that the U.S. Government requires me to provide my contact information and that failure to provide complete and accurate information may result in criminal penalties.'
  2. 'I confirm the information I have provided is complete and accurate.'

Make sure to double-check the given details before submitting your form for processing since all information provided in the CDC Contact Tracing Form must be correct and up-to-date.

Travel Insurance

Having travel insurance is not obligatory upon visiting the United States. However, it is advisable to get insurance for any travel abroad.

Our travel insurance includes:

  • full coverage for international travels
  • medical expenses abroad for up to 250 000 EUR (including the costs related to Covid-19 treatment or quarantine)
  • dental, chronic illness treatment
  • medical transport
  • luggage insurance
  • alcohol-influenced accidents

Consider obtaining travel insurance before going abroad to ensure safe travels.

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