From 12:01am on 8 November 2021, the blanket travel ban instigated by President Donald Trump’s presidential proclamation – and later reimposed by the newly elected President Joe Biden – in March 2020 will be lifted. This will allow fully vaccinated individuals from the UK, Ireland and the Schengen Area to freely travel to the US along with under-18s travelling with them. Notably, all arrivals by air to the USA must take a Covid-19 test no more than three days before travel.
Under the current rules, only individuals with a compassionate reason to travel to the USA are given a ‘National Interest Exception’ while individuals with family or partners in the USA are banned from travelling to the USA.
From Monday, individuals who have been fully vaccinated – at least two weeks before their arrival date – with a vaccine authorised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) will be able to visit the USA and will not need to quarantine on arrival. The list of permissible vaccines are as follows: Oxford AstraZeneca, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Sinopharm, and Sinovac.
To prove vaccination status, travellers must show a “record issued by an official source (e.g., public health agency, government agency) in the country where the vaccine was given.”
For British travellers, a copy of the NHS Covid pass can be used. While it is highly likely a digital version of the pass will be accepted, British travellers are advised to have a printed out copy of the pass as well.
In addition to proof of being fully vaccinated, travellers by air must show proof of a Covid test which was taken no more than three days before travel. British travellers are unable to use a free NHS test. Instead, they must use a test paid for privately. There is no need to take the more expensive PCR test as cheap and rapid antigen lateral flow tests are acceptable. Travellers can find a £30 test at Boots. Alternatively, Collinson holds testing centres at Heathrow, Gatwick, and Manchester airports (amongst others) for £40 with discount codes for numerous airlines that reduces the price to £32.
If you cannot provide a recent Covid test, individuals can provide proof of recovery from Covid-19 in the past three months. British travellers can use the NHS online recovery pass as proof amongst other alternatives.
The main exemptions for unvaccinated non-American adults comprise air or sea crew; people with diplomatic, UN or armed forces accreditation; arrivals from countries with limited vaccination programmes, (clearly not the UK); those with medical contraindications to vaccines; and people who have participated “in certain clinical trials for Covid-19 vaccination” such as AstraZeneca in the USA or Novavax Covid-19 vaccination trials. Evidence of exemption will still be required such as official documentation of clinical trial participation. Covid tests for those with exemptions must be taken no more than one day before travel rather than three days.
For unvaccinated children travelling with fully vaccinated guardians, Section 1 part 4 and Section 2 part 4 of the ‘Combined Passenger Disclosure And Attestation To The United States Of America’ form must be completed.
It should be noted that mask-wearing on transport is mandatory within the USA and there are several restrictions imposed by individual cities and states which may interfere with your plans. For example, New York City’s ‘Key to NYC’ policy imposes individuals 12 and older to show proof of at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine before entering indoor dining, museums, aquariums, zoos, and performance venues.
On your flight, you may expect airlines to ask for the following pieces of personal information:
- Full name, date of birth, email address, address while in the United States, primary contact phone number, secondary or emergency contact phone number.
- Airline name, flight number, cities of departure and arrival, time and date of departure and arrival, seat number.
This is part of the CDC’s ‘Contract Tracing Order’ to collect contact information to allow public health officials to follow up with travellers who are potentially infected or have been exposed to an individual who is infected.
This is not quite open skies but we at Whitestone Aviation see this as a key moment in opening up business travel and holiday travel with what will be our biggest Brexit economic partner in the years to come.
© 2021 Whitestone Chambers