US entry requirements: Covid travel restrictions for UK visitors

Strict Covid entry restrictions are still in place in the US for vaccinated and unvaccinated British tourists

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed the easing of restrictions earlier this year, meaning travelers no longer have to take Covid tests before returning to the UK from abroad.

Register to our Travel Guide newsletter

Fully vaccinated foreign citizens can enter the United States (Photo: Adobe)

It is also no longer mandatory for travelers to self-quarantine upon returning from abroad, with the new rules applying whether or not you are vaccinated.

Turkey, Egypt and Portugal are among the most popular short-haul destinations that have attracted tourists following the relaxation of travel rules, while departures to the US state of Florida, Dubai, Mexico and the Caribbean have sold well for longer-haul vacations.

If you’re planning a long-haul trip to the United States this year, here are the Covid travel restrictions you need to know.

What are the entry requirements to the USA?

All travelers must obtain a visa or visa waiver from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) to enter or transit the United States as a visitor. Travelers should check the US State Department website to determine which ones they will need.

Most fully vaccinated foreign citizens can enter the United States. US authorities will accept any Covid vaccine that has been approved for use by the World Health Organization (WHO) or the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These include AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer, Janssen, Covidshield, BIBP/Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines.

All passengers, regardless of vaccination status, arriving in the United States by air must present a negative test taken no later than one day before travel, or proof of recovery from coronavirus

Upon arrival, fully vaccinated travelers do not need to quarantine, but are recommended to take a virus test within three to five days.

Those who have recovered from Covid within the past 90 days, regardless of their vaccination status, do not need to be tested three to five days after travel.

Children aged 17 and under are exempt from the vaccination requirement, but must be tested three to five days after arrival and must self-isolate if symptoms develop or test positive. Children under two do not need to take a pre-departure test.

Only those with an exception or U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and lawful permanent residents of the United States will be able to enter the United States without being vaccinated.

If you have an exception, you must show a negative test result or proof of recovery from Covid within the last three months to the airline before boarding the flight.

If you are traveling within the United States, some states and territories may have their own quarantine requirements. A complete list of local quarantine requirements is available on the CDC website.

The US will accept the UK’s NHS Covid Pass as proof of vaccination, or a printout of a Covid vaccination card or vaccination certificate issued nationally or sub-nationally or by an authorized vaccine supplier.

The last dose of vaccine must have been administered at least 14 days before the trip.

What are the Covid rules in the US?

It is mandatory to wear face masks on planes, trains, buses and at airports in the United States.

Several US states no longer mandate the use of masks and face coverings in public, but guidelines will vary from state to state and there may be different rules in different localities within the same state.

Travelers are advised to check the state or city’s website before visiting, and further details can be found on the USA.GOV site.

Some areas may also require proof of vaccination to access local amenities and in some localities children between the ages of 5 and 17 may not be exempt from this requirement. Precise requirements may vary from location to location, so you should check compliance requirements in advance.

Local regulations on shops, restaurants, bars, beaches and other leisure activities may follow measures designed to limit the spread of Covid, which means proof of vaccination or proof of a negative Covid test may be required for the entrance.

Before travelling, you should check the relevant state government website or visit theCDC website.