With the recent announcement made by the Biden Administration regarding a more stringent international air travel policy, which becomes effective beginning on November 8th, people have more questions than ever about COVID-19 testing and vaccination requirements for international travel. The more stringent international travel policy requires foreign national travelers making their way to the U.S. to not only be fully vaccinated but to also provide proof of vaccination status before being permitted to board an airplane, with extremely limited exceptions being made for this. How do passengers prove vaccination status? What type of COVID-19 test will meet the testing requirement? The U.S. Department of State has addressed some of these frequently asked questions and more. We will go over several of them here.
U.S Department of State Answers Frequently Asked Questions about Covid-19 Vaccinations and Testing for International Travel.
If you are a foreign national looking to travel to the U.S. on or after November 8th, you may be wondering how you can comply with the new travel policies pertaining to COVID-19 vaccination and testing. For instance, have you considered how you can show the airline that you are fully vaccinated? Proof of your vaccination status will be, after all, required prior to you being allowed to board your plane. The Department of State explains that proof of vaccination can be a paper or digital record but must be issued by an official source and include your name and date of birth in addition to the vaccine product you received and the date or dates of all dose administrations received.
According to the CDC, vaccines that will be accepted for purposes of travel to the U.S. will include those approved by the FDA, as well as those listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization. It is also worth noting that children below the age of 18 are exempt from the foreign national traveler vaccine requirements. This is due to the fact that some younger children remain ineligible to receive the vaccine. Furthermore, there is still a significant amount of global variability regarding the availability of the vaccine for children who are eligible to be vaccinated.
Another frequently asked question that has emerged is what kind of tests meet the testing requirement. The new regulations coming into effect mandate travelers to show documentation of a negative viral COVID-19 test result prior to boarding a plane. In the alternative, a traveler can show documentation that they have recovered from COVID-19 within 90 days prior to travel. Testing, therefore, must be administered no more than three days prior to boarding an international flight to the U.S. Tests that may be administered for travel purposes include nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) and antigen tests. If a self-test is taken while being proctored in real-time by a telehealth service affiliated with the manufacturer of the test, and the test result is generated so that the airline can view it prior to boarding, then this will also be acceptable.
While you may have read that there are very limited exceptions to the vaccination requirement for foreign nationals traveling to the U.S., you may still be wondering what kind of exceptions there are. As previously noted, children under the age of 18 are an exception to the vaccination requirement. Additionally, certain COVID-19 trial participants and those with rare medical contraindications to the vaccines are also an exception to the new policy in place. Furthermore, those traveling for emergency or humanitarian reasons are also excepted as are those traveling on non-tourist visas from countries that have low vaccine availability.
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