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USA entry requirements: Covid travel restrictions for UK visitors - and vaccination rules

Strict Covid entry restrictions are still in place in the United States for vaccinated and unvaccination UK tourists

Bookings for holidays abroad have seen a huge boost following the relaxation to travel rules in the UK.

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

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Fully vaccinated foreign citizens are eligible to enter the USA (Photo: Adobe)

It is also no longer a requirement for travellers to quarantine on their return from abroad, with the new rules applying whether you are vaccinated or not.

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

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

What are the entry requirements for the USA?

All travellers need to get a visa or an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) visa waiver to enter or transit the USA as a visitor. Travellers should check the US State Department website to determine which they will need.

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

All passengers, regardless of vaccination status, arriving in the USA by air are required to show a negative test taken no more than one day before travel, or proof of recovery from coronavirus

On arrival, fully vaccinated travellers do not need to quarantine, but are recommended to take a viral test within three to five days.

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

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

Only those with an exception or US Citizens, US Nationals, and US Lawful Permanent Residents will be able to enter the US unvaccinated.

If you are not fully vaccinated but have tested positive for Covid in the last year, you still cannot enter the USA unless you meet one of the exceptions on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and US Embassy websites.

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

If you are travelling domestically within the USA, individual states and territories may have their own quarantine requirements. A full list of local quarantine requirements is available on the CDC website.

The USA will accept the UK’s NHS Covid Pass as proof of vaccination, or a printout of a Covid vaccination record or vaccination certificate issued at national or subnational level or by an authorised vaccine provider.

The final vaccine dose must have been administered at least 14 days before travel.

What are the Covid rules in the USA?

It is a requirement for face masks to be worn on aircraft, trains, buses and at airports in the USA.

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

Travellers are advised to check the website of the state or city ahead of 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 certain localities, children aged five to 17 may not be exempt from this requirement. The precise requirements may vary from venue to venue so you should check on compliancy requirements in advance.

Local regulations on shops, restaurants, bars, beaches and other leisure activities may be following measures designed to limit the spread of Covid, meaning proof of vaccination or evidence of a negative Covid test may be needed for entry.

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