Heading to the U.S anytime soon? Travel requirements have changed. Starting December 6, all air passengers, regardless of vaccination status, must show a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 1 day before travel to the United States.
All International visitors arriving at a U.S. port of entry by land or water should be prepared to:
- Present proof of COVID-19 vaccination as outlined on the CDC website; and,
- Verbally attest to their nonessential travel and COVID-19 vaccination status.
For more information, visit the Department of Homeland Security fact sheet.
International Arrivals by Air
Prior to boarding a flight to the United States, international visitors should prepare for:
Show proof of vaccination
Proof of full vaccination prior to boarding a flight to the United States is now required. Accepted vaccines include those that are FDA approved or authorized or that have an emergency use listing (EUL) from the World Health Organization (WHO).
You can download your International vaccination certificate as a PDF (for free) from mygov.au
Individuals can be considered fully vaccinated at least two weeks after the last dose of an accepted single-dose series or any combination of two doses of an accepted two-dose series.
Children under the age of 18 are exempt from the vaccine requirement, and other limited exceptions apply. More information about the vaccination requirement is available from the CDC.
Starting December 6, 2021, all air passengers aged two and older, regardless of vaccination status, must show a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than one day before travel to the United States.
Both nucleic acid amplification tests, such as a PCR test, and rapid antigen tests qualify. In a very limited number of cases, there are additional testing requirements for those who are exempt from the proof of vaccination requirement and documentation needs for travellers who can demonstrate recent recovery from COVID-19 in place of a negative viral test.
An outgoing PCR test costs around AUD$150 at a testing centre and you’ll need to submit your travel details and pay upfront online before you have the test.
You can also get an Express RT-PCR test done at Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane International Airports, which only costs AUD$79 and guarantee your results in 90 minutes. Bear in mind though, that they are open from 0600 to 2330, seven days a week.
After having your test, you’ll receive your PCR test result via text with a code for you to download your PDF certificate and print it out.
More information about the testing requirement and documentation is available from the CDC.
Contact tracing requirement
All air passengers are required to provide contact information to airlines before boarding flights to the United States for the purposes of contact tracing.
This process is critical to detect and respond to variants of COVID-19, helping protect the public and international visitors.
Entry rules for children
Children under the age of 18 are currently exempt from the vaccine requirement. Children between the ages of two and 17 who are not fully vaccinated may board a flight to the United States with a negative pre-departure COVID-19 viral test conducted no more than one day before departure if accompanied by fully vaccinated parents or guardians.
If travelling unaccompanied or if one or more of the parents or guardians accompanying the child is not fully vaccinated, the child must present a negative pre-departure COVID-19 viral test conducted no more than one day before departure. While children under two years of age are not required to get a test, CDC recommends a pre-departure test for these children whenever possible. More information is available from the CDC.
As visitors plan a trip, it’s important to research the local rules for where they want to visit when travelling with kids or booking any attraction tickets. Helpful resources are linked below under State and Local Requirements.
Federal mask mandates
All travellers are required to wear a mask over their nose and mouth while in airplanes, airports, and other indoor areas of public transportation while travelling to, within, or out of the United States.
This mandate was recently extended and is currently in place through March 18, 2021. More information about the mask requirement is available from the CDC.
State and local requirements
Travelling interstate? Once international visitors arrive at their destination, individual state and local governments, as well as some businesses, may have their own health and safety guidelines regarding masks, social distancing, vaccination status, and more. As visitors plan trips, these resources organised by states, territories, and cities by U.S. region may be useful.
U.S. visas and ESTA
Just as before the pandemic, visitors to the United States must first obtain a visa. Certain international travellers may be eligible to travel to the United States without a visa if they meet the requirements for visa-free travel. More information is available from the U.S. Department of State.
To ensure entry into the country, all travellers should check the status of required travel documents, including visa waivers, prior to departure. More information about the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is available from the Department of Homeland Security.
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