Do I need a COVID-19 test to travel to the USA? Depends on how you're getting there

Even if they are fully vaccinated, some Americans require that travelers present negative COVID-19 results to gain entry. Before you travel, here are the details.
Next week, travel to the USA is open for business. On November 8, the European Union's travel ban and COVID-19 hotspots countries will be lifted. Additionally, restrictions on land and ferry crossings to Canada and Mexico will also be lifted (for the first times in nearly 20 months). All foreign nationals who visit the country under the new policy must present proof of vaccination, regardless of whether they are traveling by land, air, or sea. The country will require that most visitors show proof of negative COVID-19 testing results, depending on the method they are traveling.

When entering the US via one of its land border with Mexico or Canada, people don't have to pass a test. Mark Spowart/Getty Image

To enter the US, do I need to pass the COVID-19 exam?

For entry to the US at seaports, or for people crossing the border at the Mexico and Canada borders, no tests are required. Only people who fly to the US from overseas will need them. This rule was introduced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January, when more contagious coronavirus strains emerged all over the globe. This is required for both US citizens as well as foreign visitors. Airlines can deny you permission to board if the documentation you have not provided isn't up-to-date.

What time do I need to take the COVID-19 test.

US-bound passengers will need to complete a flight plan within three days and provide proof to the airline. This usually happens during the boarding process when airline staff check passports and boarding passes. Airlines will accept results from both PCR or antigen tests that have been done in a laboratory. US citizens returning home who have not been vaccinated must take their test within 24 hours of their return flight.

Are there any exceptions?

Children under two years old, federal law-enforcement agents and airline crews are exempt from the requirement. The test is not required for anyone flying to the US mainland from US territories other than Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands.

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