6 DECEMBER UPDATE: Stricter testing requirements for travellers entering the USA have been announced today
Stricter testing requirements for travelers entering the USA have been announced by United States President Joe Biden. All passengers entering the US must adhere to the new protocols. This includes passengers from the UK and Schengen area countries travelling with the ESTA Visa Waiver Programme authorization.
According to the White House website, a shift in testing protocols for inbound travelers includes, "requiring all inbound international travellers to test within one day of departure globally, regardless of nationality or vaccination status. This tighter testing timeline provides an added degree of public health protection as scientists continue to assess the Omicron variant." So, in addition to vaccine requirements to enter the US, UK travellers now must also present a negative virus test taken within a day of their travel. Note: this is not a 24 hour window but a day. Ex: if you travel on a Friday, you must have a negative result of a test taken anytime the day prior.
15 OCTOBER UPDATE! US announces November 8th as the official date it will end travel ban on UK and Schengen travellers
In welcome news to countless travellers, the United States has announced that international passengers who are fully innoculated may travel to the US beginning on 8 November. An announcement on Twitter by White House assistant press secretary, Kevin Munoz, confirmed, "The US' new travel policy that requires vaccination for foreign national travelers to the United States will begin on Nov 8th, This announcement and date applies to both international air travel and land travel."
October 2021 - The White House has announced that in November the United States government will be lifting travel and entry restrictions, in place since March 2020. The plan opens the door to transatlantic travel to the US resuming for many― including for ESTA Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) travellers. Foreign nationals of the United Kingdom and most other EU countries are expected to be allowed to visit the United States provided they meet a few criteria including vaccination and other health and safety measures to be announced.
Vaccinated travelers are expected to be required to have received a US authorized vaccine. While others may be approved for entry by foreign nationals, ones presently allowed include Pfizer (aka Pfizer Biontech), Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (JnJ). It is yet to be seen which others might be accepted in addition to those authorized in the US.
The US government imposed tight restrictions on travellers during the period of January-March 2020―on those who had been in Europe’s Schengen Area, the United Kingdom and Ireland, along with some other nations, which restricted them from entering the United States. Citizens, relatives of US citizens, and some with special waivers were excluded from the travel ban. Most leisure and business travellers were grounded by the restrictions and have been since March 2020.
The United Kingdom and Ireland have had restrictions on passengers/citizens since March 2020. Schengen Area countries under the travel ban include 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 and Switzerland. Countries outside of Europe that have had travel restrictions imposed include: Iran, China, Brazil, India, and South Africa.
The travel restrictions for Europeans who have been in any Schengen country, the UK and some others do remain in effect as of October 2021. However, the Biden administration's, Jeff Zient has recently announced that the travel bans imposed in 2020 will be eased and entry will be allowed (and conditional with vaccination and testing requirements) as of November 2021. The exact date the US travel ban will be lifted in November has not been announced.
On 10 October, Travel and Leisure magazine reported that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated that "Six vaccines that are FDA authorized/approved or listed for emergency use by WHO will meet the criteria," for travel to and entry into the United States.
"Fully vaccinated" means the passenger has received one dose of a single dose vaccine, such as the Johnson and Johnson (JnJ), at least 3 weeks prior to travel, or two doses of 2-dose vaccines (like Pfizer and Moderna vaccines), 2 and 3 weeks prior to travel, respectively.
The most important travel precautions to protect your family and yourself according to health organizations including the WHO (World Health Organization) and the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) include:
US Travel Association President and CEO, Roger Dow, spoke following the announcement by the Biden administration’s announcement of USA travel to the US resuming in November, "The U.S. Travel Association applauds the Biden administration’s announcement of a roadmap to reopen air travel to vaccinated individuals from around the world, which will help revive the American economy and protect public health.” Further he stated that, "deep appreciation to the President and his advisors – in particular Commerce Secretary Raimondo, who has been a tireless advocate – for working with the industry to develop a plan to restart international travel and safely reconnect America with the world." The anticipated resumption of travel from the United Kingdom, Ireland and Schengen are countires, among others, will offer a welcome boost to the airline industry which collectively welcomes the signifcant increase in travel from Europe to the US once the travel ban is eased.
Citizens of the UK and Schengen area countries which are part of the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) may apply for authorization to travel to the US visa free with the ESTA visa waiver. ESTA is the acronym for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization. To learn more about the visa waiver for US travel visit application-esta.co.uk.
Travelling to the United States? Do you have your pre-planning checklist in order? Visit our ESTA Guide for more information about obtaining your travel permit. We'd love to hear from you. Send us your comments or questions for travel assistance.