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Covid-19 Travel Guidelines For US Passengers

Covid-19 Travel Guidelines For US Passengers

Posted on Friday, April 9th, 2021 by Girish Sharma

Enduring a pandemic has been a common denominator for all of us across the globe. This year has brought some relief with the onset of vaccination campaigns around the world. However, there are disparities among first and third-world countries regarding the vaccination process and level of herd immunity developed among their people. These disparities have caused variations in the immigration policy of countries, especially between the continents of Europe and Asia. This has resulted in a lot of ambiguity among US travelers who want to travel to various destinations worldwide. 

We perceived this dilemma amongst our US travelers, so we have compiled all the necessary recommendations and information required for a safe and smooth trip. This compilation is also per the general rules and regulations laid down by the US Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and centers for disease control and prevention (CDC). So you don’t need to look across multiple government websites, segregating the information relevant to your trip. Superfares have done the work for you! 

Let’s get started.

Covid-19 Travel Guidelines List Of General Documents

General Documents Required For International Travelers

Before starting travel to US, you must create a digital copy of all the aforementioned documents. In the case of theft, you would be better equipped to deal with the travel compliances during your journey.

1. Passport: It is the primary document that provides you identification while boarding a flight in general and traveling abroad in particular. You must have at least 6 months validity beyond the return journey date for your passport. Also, don’t forget to check that there must be at least 2 or more blank pages on your passport else you won’t be allowed entry in some countries.

2. International Driving Permit: U.S. driver’s license is not accepted as a valid driving identity card by many countries. So you could apply for an International Driving license to enjoy a seamless driving experience across the different places you plan to visit across the world.

3. Prescriptions for everyday medications: If you need to take some medications regularly to maintain your health then you should also take prescriptions of the medications that you might need to buy abroad. It is always advisable to be proactive and confirm with the embassy if your medications are available in your destination country. Also, make sure that the medication is not considered an illegal or banned drug in your destination country before starting your journey.

4. International Health insurance: Acquiring health insurance beforehand not only protects you against any medical emergency but also facilitates the mandatory immigration compliance of certain countries. For instance, European Union countries (such as Germany, France, Austria, Italy) require a letter of international health insurance from your insurance company for you to be eligible for Schengen VISA. The policy must cover any medical, evacuation, and repatriation obligations throughout your whole visit. The pharmaceutical expenses for at least $36,000 or 30,000 euros should be covered under this insurance.

5. VISA: You may require a visa before you travel abroad depending upon the immigration and tourist visa policies of your destination country. Start looking for the VISA requirements at least 6 to 7 months in advance to get your VISA process completed on time. You can visit the embassy of the countries you will be visiting for more information about the VISA requirements and application process.

6. COVID-19 Test: You must get a viral test 3-4 days before your journey if you have not received proper vaccination. The test involves taking a sample of mucus from your nose or your mouth to find out if you are currently infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) and antigen tests are the two types of viral infection tests used for inspection of the virus.

Be Aware Of The Level Of Covid Transmission Before Choosing A Destination

It is imperative to look at the travel advisories of the government before traveling domestically or abroad. These advisories use WHO and domestic medical agencies’ reports to brief the virus exposure in different locations. CDC’s Travel Health Notices (THN) follow a similar framework followed by travel advisories of the US department of state to promote homogeneity of communication while talking about a particular travel destination. The difference between THN and the US department’s travel advisories is that the former only uses covid contamination as the primary factor while assigning the level of risk associated with a particular destination.

The levels associated with THN are described with actionable guidelines.

Risk Assesment Level for Covid-19

These COVID-19 threat levels are assigned after careful consideration of the World Health Organization data and other official sources. If there is no data about a particular destination, CDC asks the government of that place to provide their national data. The government refuses to provide the necessary data, their THN level is designated as “unknown”, and travelers are advised to follow THN Level 4 recommendations.

Therefore, If you want to check out the level of viral threat at your destination abroad, you can view the risk levels of various countries for COVID-19. Also, you can visualize the travel advisory of the Department of State Travel along with the location of consulates abroad by using this colored World Map.

Measures To Safeguard Yourself Against Covid During Your Travel

After looking at the state of Covid threat at your destination, you need to plan for your safety accordingly. Even if the covid threat is at level 1, you should adhere to the following safety measures.

  • Use a mask over your nose and mouth in public places.
  • Avoid crowds and stay at least six feet/2 meters (about two sleeve lengths) from anyone who is not going with you.
  • Wash your hands frequently or use a hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
  • Get vaccinated for Covid before your travel, if possible.
  • Get vaccinated against the region-specific diseases that are prevalent in your destination. For example: get a polio vaccination when visiting an African country.
  • If you are traveling by car, try to minimize your stoppage points, and air passengers should try to take flights with the fewest stops or layovers.
  • Avoid sharing spaces with multiple selves and don’t allow others to your bathroom facilities (such as dorm-style lodging)
  • Avoid using Self-service food options that require extensive touching of surfaces, such as buffets.
  • Grab some extra supplies of your prescribed medications if you are unsure about their availability in your destination.

Stay Connected With The Travel Updates While Traveling Abroad

To stay up to date with the ongoing activities in your destined location, you must enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) of the government. STEP is a free service provided by the US embassy or consulate that empowers you with the latest security updates while living or traveling abroad. You will also come across the latest developments on your email to access the travel alerts on the go. It would be wise to follow the Facebook and Twitter handles of TravelGov and the US consulate to stay updated. 

Recommendations For Domestic And International Air Travelers

People who are planning to travel domestically or internationally have different magnitudes of risk of being exposed to Covid-19 depending upon two factors, the destination of travel (domestic/international) and the Immunity of the traveler (fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated, or not vaccinated). According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people are those individuals who have been vaccinated against Covid at least two weeks before the start of the travel journey. 

Even if you are vaccinated against covid, you still have a chance of being infected by a new strain of virus or its mutation while traveling abroad, so it is advisable to remain vigilant and practice the measure as mentioned earlier to ensure your security. Now let us look at the different recommendations for international and domestic travelers.

For International Travelers

For international travelers, there are multiple procedures that they need to follow. However, people who have developed immunity by using the FDA- approved vaccine (such as Pfizer or Moderna or Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine) are allowed certain relaxations. They are permitted to:

  • Resume normality following the above instructions for traveling safely and get examined 3-6 days after travel.
  • NOT required to get inspected before leaving the United States unless your destination demands it.
  • NO need to self-quarantine consequent to landing in the United States.

The CDC recommends delaying your travel abroad until you get fully vaccinated. Still, if you must travel, you must follow the recommendations as shown in the table below:-

Recommendations of CDCFully VaccinatedNot Fully Vaccinated
Get tested with a COVID test 2-4 days before your journey.NoYes
Compulsory Viral test required before your return journey to the USYesYes
Get tested 3-5 days after travelYesYes
Self Quarantine After travelNoYes
Self Monitor for symptomsYesYes
Use a mask and take extra precautions while travelingYesYes

For Domestic Travelers

If you want to travel domestically then there are fewer testing requirements especially for those people who are fully vaccinated By this we mean that people who have taken the shot of FDA-approved vaccine (such as Pfizer or Moderna or Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine) can travel safely within the United States as:

1. Such people need not get examined before or after the trip unless the destination requires it.

2. Such individuals are exempted from mandatory self-quarantine after the journey.


The people who want to travel within the States can use the Travel Planner formed by CDC to get more region-specific Covid guidelines within the United States. Apart from the travel Planner, there are some basic recommendations that you must adhere to for your own and other’s safety.

Recommendations of CDCFully VaccinatedNot Fully Vaccinated
Get tested with a COVID test 2-4 days before your journey. NoYes
Get tested 3-5 days after travelNoYes
Self Quarantine After travelNoYes
Self Monitor for symptomsYesYes
Use a mask and take extra precautions while travelingYesYes

Return Process For Traveler’s Into The United States

After completing your journey now it’s time to get back home. While returning to the US you need to take a mandatory test to board your return flight. Now when you land on American soil, you are provided with a couple of options by the customs and border security department which include:

Automated Passport Control (APC)

  • According to this program passengers can directly move to the APC kiosks in the passport control area instead of filling the CBP form. These Kiosks don’t require any pre-approval and do not charge any fee for their service. Those eligible for this program use APC and experience shorter wait times, less congestion, and faster processing. Steps involved in APC automated Processing include:
  • You need to scan your passport and take a photograph using the kiosk
  • The kiosk will bring forth a list of questions related to CBP inspection which you need to answer.
  • Now you will be asked to verify your identity using a biometric scanner.
  • At last, you will be asked for some flight information after which a receipt will be issued. 
  • You need to bring your passport and the receipt to a CBP officer to finalize their inspection for entry into the United States.

Form 6059B Customs Declaration

It is the standard procedure for getting entry into the United States. This process is usually followed by non-US citizens to get entry into the United States. This process involves filling up the CBP Form 6059B for custom declaration along with ancillary forms different from one case to another. For instance, in the case of asylees, refugees, or individuals with parole records, the legal rules necessitate a complete CBP Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record.

Mobile Passport Control

This procedure is currently available for only US citizens and Canadian travelers under which you are required to download a free application named Mobile Passport app. This MPC app is available on both Google Play Store and Apple App Store. After this travelers need to follow the following steps for re-entering the US:

  • You need to create a profile with your passport information by filling in your name, gender, date of birth, and country of citizenship. 
  • Upon landing in the United States, You need to select your arrival airport or seaport and terminal in the app
  • Now you need to take a fresh self-photo using the app
  • The app will ask a series of questions relating to CBP  inspection, just answer them one by one.
  • Once you submit the answers and complete the transaction through the app, you will receive an electronic receipt with an Encrypted Quick Response (QR) code.
  • You need to carry your physical passport and smartphone with the digital QR-coded slip to a CBP officer to conclude their inspection to set foot into the United States.

That’s pretty much it! 

The above guidelines are enough to clarify most of your doubts. However, the travel guidelines are constantly changing based on the situations of COVID transmission. Because of this, we’ll recommend staying in touch so we can keep you abreast with whatever’s going around. 

In case things are crystal clear and you want to proceed with the bookings, feel free to connect with our customer support team. Our team will be happy to help you get the best possible cheap flight deals. And in case of any queries, give us a call or join the live chat. We look forward to seeing you on the other side of the call/chat! 

Girish

About Girish | View Posts

Girish Sharma is the CEO of a leading travel company named Myticketstoindia, established in 2012. Being a versed travel expert since 12 years, he shares his peerless voyage expeditions along with interesting travel destination ideas and news updates for the travelaholics across the globe. He is the member of TAAI, Travel Agent Association Of India and his firm has got recognized with the reputed IATA accreditation and became the Inbound Flight Booking Portal of the Year. Loyalty & honesty towards the clients and vendors, have always been the key behind his successful walk of life.


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