What to know about the new US international travel rules

Fully vaccinated people will be allowed into country after changes in November

Passengers queue at Dulles Washington International Airport in Virginia.  AFP
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The US will relax international travel rules for non-Americans entering from up to 33 countries, the White House coronavirus co-ordinator, Jeff Zients, announced on Monday.

It marks a major change for the US, which enacted tough pandemic-related travel restrictions on several countries in early 2020, separating families and upending business operations.

Here's a look at the expected changes:

If I'm vaccinated, can I travel to the US and do I have to quarantine?

Air passengers from China, Britain and most EU countries will be able to travel to the US if they have been fully vaccinated and can show proof of a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of travel.

The expected lifting of restrictions will also affect Brazil, India, Iran and South Africa.

The EU countries expected to be included are France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.

Fully vaccinated people will not have to quarantine when they arrive in the country.

It marks a stark change from the current rules that bar non-US citizens entering from the aforementioned countries and regions in most cases.

What vaccines will be accepted?

Acceptable vaccines have yet to be determined.

Mr Zients said the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will decide which vaccines qualify, including whether those not approved by US regulators will be acceptable.

What about unvaccinated travellers?

The expected changes are focused on fully vaccinated non-US citizens coming from countries that faced an 18-month travel ban on non-essential travel as well as unvaccinated Americans.

Americans travelling from abroad who are not vaccinated will need to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within a day of travel and will need to show proof of purchasing a viral test to be taken after arrival in the US.

When will these changes take place?

The changes will take place sometime in “early November,” Mr Zients said.

The ban on non-essential travel to the US will be extended through October 21, he added.

“This new international travel system follows the science to keep Americans and international air travel safe,” Mr Zients told reporters on Monday.

“By requiring foreign nationals to be fully vaccinated in order to fly to the United States and in implementing additional strict safety protocols, we will protect Americans here at home and enhance the safety of international travel.”

The CDC will also introduce rules in which airlines will be required to collect passenger phone numbers and email addresses along with other information to conduct any contact tracing if needed.

Updated: September 20, 2021, 7:14 PM