Air Travel to the United States

Presidential Proclamation 10294 of October 25, 2021, Advancing the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-⁠19 Pandemic, effective November 8, 2021, revoked the four prior geographic travel ban restrictions that had limited entry from 33 specific countries, and replaced them with a global requirement that "noncitizens who are nonimmigrants" traveling to the United States by air from any part of the world establish that they are fully vaccinated, with some limited exceptions. The proclamation relies on INA 212(f)/8 USC 1182(f) as the statutory authority for the restrictions. That statute provides: "Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate."

Until June 12, 2022, a separate CDC order also required all air travelers (regardless of citizenship) to show results of a negative coronavirus test taken one day preceding their flight's departure from a foreign country traveling to the United States (see details below). The CDC pre-departure testing order, however, was rescinded effective June 12, 2022. Update from the CDC website:

"As of 12:01AM ET on June 12, 2022, CDC will no longer require air passengers traveling from a foreign country to the United States to show a negative COVID-19 viral test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board their flight. For more information, see Rescission: Requirement for Negative Pre-Departure COVID-19 Test Result or Documentation of Recovery from COVID-19 for all Airline or Other Aircraft Passengers Arriving into the United States from Any Foreign Country."

Entry to the United States through Land or Ferry Ports of Entry

In separate but related announcements (see below), the controls on travel through land ports of entry on the Canadian and Mexican borders have also been modified. Starting January 22, 2022, all noncitizens who are nonimmigrants will be required to show proof that they have been fully vaccinated with an acceptable COVID-19 vaccine under the same vaccine standards as air travelers. Unlike air travel, however, travelers entering through land or ferry ports of entry were never subject to a pre-entry COVID-19 testing requirement.

Effective Dates of the Vaccination Requirement

Air Ports of Entry. Presidential Proclamation 10294 of October 25, 2021 governs entry to the United States through air ports of entry. Starting November 8, 2021, all "noncitizens who are nonimmigrants" entering the United States through an air POE will have to show proof that they are fully vaccinated with an acceptable COVID vaccine. Proclamation 10294 is "effective at 12:01 a.m. eastern standard time on November 8, 2021."

Land and Ferry Ports of Entry. Starting January 22, 2022, all noncitizens who are nonimmigrants will be required to show proof that they have been fully vaccinated with an acceptable COVID-19 vaccine under the same vaccine standards as air travelers.

Who is Covered by Proclamation 10294 of October 25, 2021?

Presidential Proclamation 10294 of October 25, 2021 prohibits entry into the United States by air travel of "noncitizens who are nonimmigrants" unless they are fully vaccinated with an acceptable COVID19 vaccine.

Section 2 of the proclamation provides that the "entry into the United States by air travel of noncitizens who are nonimmigrants and who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is suspended and limited, except as provided in section 3 of this proclamation. This suspension and limitation on entry applies only to air travelers to the United States and does not affect visa issuance."

U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, U.S. lawful permanent residents (green card holders), and those entering on an immigrant visa are exempt from the Proclamation 10294 vaccination requirement, since it covers only "noncitizens who are nonimmigrants" traveling to the United States by air.

The language stating that the "suspension and limitation on entry applies only to air travelers to the United States and does not affect visa issuance" means that someone who is not fully vaccinated at the time of a visa application or interview could still be issued a visa by a U.S. consulate, although that individual would have to be fully vaccinated in order to board an aircraft destined for the United States or to be admitted to the United States.

Exemptions and Exceptions to the Proclamation 10294 Vaccine Requirement

Proclamation Section 3(b) contains a number of important exceptions for certain individuals who would otherwise be subject to the full vaccine requirement. Nonimmigrants who do not meet the definition of fully vaccinated but who are traveling by air to the United States under one of the Section 3(b) exceptions are referred to as Excepted Covered Individuals in the CDC Amended Order Implementing Proclamation on Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic. In general see CDC Technical Instructions: Procedures for Confirming Documentation of Excepted Covered Individuals Who Do Not Present Proof of Being Fully Vaccinated.

In a liaison meeting with the Department of State, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)'s DOS Liaison Committee asked: "To what extent, if at all, are consular posts and/or the broader DOS engaged in assessing whether an individual is eligible for an exception to the new vaccine and testing requirements?" DOS responded: "Consular sections' role in the process is to ensure that an individual's request for an exception is filled out in full, and to transmit to CDC the completed requests." See Department of State/AILA Liaison Committee Meeting, January 20, 2022, AILA Doc. No. 22011002.

The CDC order provides that individuals who enter the United States under one of the order's exceptions must attest that they will take certain post-arrival actions, that, depending on the exception, could include:

  • A post-arrival viral test taken within 3-5 days after arriving in the United States;
  • Self quarantine , "even if the test result to the post-arrival viral test is negative, unless the Excepted Covered Individual has documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days";
  • Self isolation for five calendar days if the result of the post-arrival viral test is positive or if they develop COVID-19 symptoms;
  • Become "fully vaccinated against COVID-19 within 60 days after arriving in the United States, or as soon thereafter as is medically appropriate as determined by CDC, if such person intends to stay in the United States for more than 60 days, unless the individual is excepted from this requirement."

The exceptions to Proclamation 10294 for nonimmigrant travelers include:

  • National interest
  • Citizens of a foreign country where the availability of COVID-19 vaccination is limited
  • Noncitizens who are children under 18 years of age, or noncitizens for whom a COVID-19 vaccination is contraindicated or inappropriate
  • Other exceptions

These exceptions are discussed below.

Exception: National interest

Under Proclamation 10294 Section 3(b), the proclamation is not applicable to:

(x) any noncitizen or group of noncitizens whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their designees.

According to CDC Amended Order Implementing Proclamation on Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic, "Any Excepted Covered Individual granted an exception in the national interest must present an official U.S. government letter and a completed Excepted Covered Individual Attestation to the airline or aircraft operator prior to embarking an aircraft destined to the United States. Such an individual must also attest to agreeing and arranging to be vaccinated within 60 days of arriving in the United States, or as soon thereafter as is medically appropriate, if they intend to stay in the United States for more than 60 days."

National interest exceptions (NIE) granted developed under the now revoked geographic proclamations are not valid under Proclamation 10294.

Limited NIE for Certain Nonimmigrants Who Were Physically Present in Ukraine as of February 10, 2022

Limited National Interest Exception (NIE). On February 15, 2022, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued a very limited National Interest Exception (NIE) to the Proclamation 10294 of October 25, 2021 vaccination requirement, for certain nonimmigrants traveling to the United States with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. Nonimmigrants admitted under this NIE will still "need to attest to having made arrangements to receive a COVID-19 test within three to five days of arrival in the United States, to self-quarantine for seven days, to self-isolate in the event of a positive COVID-19 test or the development of COVID-19 symptoms, and to become fully vaccinated for COVID-19 within 60 days of arrival in the United States if intending to stay in the United States for more than 60 days." Following a February 28, 2022 amendment and a March 29, 2022 amendment to the original order, this NIE was in effect until 11:59 P.M. EDT, April 30, 2022. Consult the full notices for further information.

Exception: Citizens of a foreign country where the availability of COVID-19 vaccination is limited

Proclamation 10294 Section 3(b)(vii) provides an exception to the vaccination requirement for:

"... any noncitizen who is a citizen of a foreign country where the availability of COVID-19 vaccination is limited, as identified pursuant to section 4(a)(v) of this proclamation, and who seeks to enter the United States pursuant to a nonimmigrant visa, except for a B-1 or B-2 visa;"

This seems to partially address the request in an October 14, 2021 letter (led by the American Council on Education (ACE) and joined by NAFSA and 36 other organizations) that asked the Biden administration to allow international students, scholars, and researchers from countries where the vaccine is not widely available or where U.S.- or World Health Organization-approved vaccines are not widely available, to enter and be vaccinated in the United States upon arrival. Read the October 14, 2021 ACE letter that NAFSA joined.

Section 4(a)(v) of Proclamation 10294 charges "the Secretary of Health and Human Services, through the Director of the CDC," with "maintaining a list of countries where the availability of COVID-19 vaccination is limited, with such countries defined as those where less than 10 percent of the country's total population has been fully vaccinated with any available COVID-19 vaccine or are otherwise determined by the Director of the CDC to qualify as countries where the availability of COVID-19 vaccination is limited."

CDC Amended Order Implementing Proclamation on Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic mirrors the language of Proclamation 10294, and defines "Foreign Country with Limited COVID-19 Vaccine Availability" as "a foreign country where less than 10 percent of the country's total population has been fully vaccinated with any available COVID-19 vaccine. These countries are listed by CDC in Technical Instructions." CDC FAQs say that the list will be updated every three months.

In response to the question of whether someone qualifies for this exception if they live in a country with low vaccination availability but are a citizen of a country with high vaccination availability, another CDC FAQ responds: "No, to qualify for this exception, you must show a passport or other proof of citizenship of a country determined to have limited COVID-19 vaccine availability."

CDC's List of Foreign Countries with Limited COVID-19 Vaccine Availability includes the following countries at present:

Table 4. List of Foreign Countries with Limited COVID-19 Vaccine Availability as of April 14, 2022

Burkina Faso Haiti Somalia
Burundi Madagascar South Sudan
Cameroon Malawi Sudan
Chad* Mali Syrian Arab Republic
Cote d’Ivoire* Niger Uganda*
Democratic Republic of the Congo Nigeria United Republic of Tanzania
Djibouti* Papua New Guinea Yemen
Eritrea Senegal Zambia*
Ethiopia* Sierra Leone*

(* Countries that will be removed from list on June 28, 2022)

CDC Technical Guidance: Citizens of Countries with Limited COVID-19 Vaccine Availability with Non-B-1 or B-2 Nonimmigrant Visa says that airlines or aircraft operators "must confirm that an individual claiming this exception has: A passport issued by a foreign country with limited COVID-19 vaccine availability; and A valid nonimmigrant visa that is not a B-1 or B-2 visa... Airlines or aircraft operators must also confirm that the passenger has provided an Excepted Covered Individual Attestation."

Exception: Participants in certain COVID-19 vaccine trials

Proclamation 10294 Section 3(b)(iv) provides an exception to the official list of accepted vaccines for "any noncitizen who has participated or is participating in certain clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccination, as determined by the Director of the CDC." CDC Technical Instructions for implementing the proclamation list the qualifying vaccine trials. See below for more information on this exception.

Exception: Noncitizens who are children under 18 years of age, or noncitizens for whom a COVID-19 vaccination is contraindicated or inappropriate

Proclamation 10294 Section 3(b):

"(iii)  any noncitizen for whom, given their age, requiring vaccination would be inappropriate, as determined by the Director of the CDC, taking into account global vaccine availability for individuals in that age group;"

"(v)  any noncitizen for whom accepted COVID-19 vaccination is medically contraindicated, as determined by the Director of the CDC;"

"(vi)  any noncitizen who has been granted an exception by the Director of the CDC for humanitarian or emergency reasons, as determined by the Director of the CDC;"

The exception at Section 3(b)(iii) would appear to be available to certain unvaccinated minor children under 18 years of age, for example, children of students and scholars coming to the United States in dependent statuses such as F-2, J-2, H-4, etc.

The White House Fact Sheet: Biden Administration Releases Additional Detail for Implementing a Safer, More Stringent International Air Travel System has this to say about the exception for children:

"Requirements for Children:

  • Children under 18 are excepted from the vaccination requirement for foreign national travelers, given both the ineligibility of some younger children for vaccination, as well as the global variability in access to vaccination for older children who are eligible to be vaccinated.
  • Children between the ages of 2 and 17 are required to take a pre-departure test.
  • If traveling with a fully vaccinated adult, an unvaccinated child can test three days prior to departure (consistent with the timeline for fully vaccinated adults). If an unvaccinated child is traveling alone or with unvaccinated adults, they will have to test within one day of departure." [NAFSA note: since the "timeline for fully vaccinated adults has changed from 3 days to 1 day under the CDC's amended order effective December 6, 2021, all unvaccinated children will likely be required to be tested no more than 1 day prior to departure.)

In addition, the 60-day post-entry vaccination requirement of Proclamation 10294 Section 2(c) does not apply to a child under 18 years of age, although children must still "present a completed Excepted Covered Individual Attestation to the airline or aircraft operator prior to embarking an aircraft destined to the United States." See CDC Amended Order Implementing Proclamation on Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

To document medical contraindication as the basis for an exception to Proclamation 10294, CDC FAQs on Exceptions to the Proclamation state:

"What do I need to show if I have a medical contraindication to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine?

You must show a letter from a licensed physician documenting the medical contraindication to the airline or aircraft operator before boarding a flight to the United States.

The letter

  • Must be signed and dated on official letterhead that contains contact information (name, address, and phone number) of a licensed healthcare provider.
  • Must clearly state that you have a medical contraindication to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. The name of the COVID-19 vaccine product and the medical condition must both be listed.
    • Medical contraindications to COVID-19 vaccination include immediate or severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) after a previous dose or component of a COVID-19 vaccine or known allergy to a component of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Must have sufficient personally identifiable information (at a minimum full name and date of birth) to confirm that the letter matches with your passport or other travel information.

If your letter is in a language other than English, check with your airlines or aircraft operator to find out if translation of the letter is necessary for their review."

Exception: Diplomats, employees of international organizations, and similar

Proclamation 10294 Section 3(b):

"(i) any noncitizen seeking entry into or transiting the United States pursuant to one of the following nonimmigrant visa classifications:  A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official), E-1 (as an employee of TECRO or TECO or the employee's immediate family members), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 (or seeking to enter as a nonimmigrant in one of those NATO classifications);"

"(ii)  any noncitizen whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement or who is traveling pursuant to United States legal obligation (as evidenced by a letter of invitation from the United Nations or other documentation showing the purpose of such travel);"

Other exceptions

Other exceptions include:

Proclamation 10294 Section 3(a): "any noncitizen seeking entry as a crew member of an airline or other aircraft operator if such crew member or operator adheres to all industry standard protocols for the prevention of COVID-19, as set forth in relevant guidance for crew member health issued by the CDC or by the Federal Aviation Administration in coordination with the CDC."

Proclamation 10294 Section 3(b):

"(viii) any noncitizen who is a member of the United States Armed Forces or who is a spouse or child of a member of the United States Armed Forces;"

(xi) any noncitizen seeking entry as a sea crew member traveling pursuant to a C-1 and D nonimmigrant visa, if such crew member adheres to all industry standard protocols for the prevention of COVID-19, as set forth in relevant guidance for crew member health by the CDC;"

No exception for religious reasons or other moral convictions

In response to the question, "Can I qualify for an exception to the proof of vaccination requirement under the Presidential Proclamation and CDC’s Amended Order for religious reasons or other moral convictions?" CDC FAQs state: "No, there are no exceptions under the Presidential Proclamation and CDC’s Amended Order for religious reasons or other moral convictions." Likewise, the CDC Amended Order Implementing Proclamation on Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic states: "Objections to vaccination based on religious or moral convictions do not qualify under this or any other exception listed in the Proclamation or this Order." Students who have received an institutional exemption on these bases for purposes of the school's vaccination requirement should be advised that the school's exemption will not be recognized for purposes of entry to the United States under the proclamation and CDC order.

60-Day Vaccination Requirement for Excepted Covered Individuals Admitted to the United States Under a 3(b) Exception

Nonimmigrants not fully vaccinated who are traveling by air to the United States under one of the Section 3(b) exceptions to Proclamation 10294 of October 25, 2021 (referred to as Excepted Covered Individuals in CDC guidance), are required, under Proclamation 10294 Section 2(c), to "...become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 within 60 days of arriving in the United States, within some other timeframe as determined by the Director of the CDC, or as soon as medically appropriate as determined by the Director of the CDC, and must provide proof of having arranged to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 after arriving in the United States, unless:

(i)    the noncitizen's intended stay is sufficiently brief, as determined by the Director of the CDC;

(ii)   the noncitizen is one for whom, given their age, requiring vaccination would be inappropriate, as determined by the Director of the CDC;

(iii)  the noncitizen has participated or is participating in certain clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccination, as determined by the Director of the CDC [NAFSA note: see CDC Technical Instructions for the list of acceptable COVID-19 clinical trial vaccinations];

(iv)   COVID-19 vaccination is medically contraindicated for the noncitizen, as determined by the Director of the CDC [NAFSA note: see CDC Technical Instructions: Medical Contraindication to COVID-19 Vaccination];

(v)    the noncitizen is described in section 3(b)(i) or 3(b)(ii) of this proclamation [NAFSA note: these are the exceptions for diplomats and employees of international organizations] and has previously received a COVID-19 vaccine that is authorized or approved by the noncitizen's country of nationality, as determined by the Director of the CDC, in consultation with the Secretary of State; or

(vi)   the Director of the CDC otherwise determines that COVID-19 vaccination is not warranted for the noncitizen."

The CDC Amended Order Implementing Proclamation on Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic contains attestation and other requirements. CDC has provided a Combined Passenger Disclosure and Attestation that fulfills the attestation requirements of CDC orders.

The CDC states the following on its Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Approved or Authorized in the United States page:

  • "People who received the first dose of a 2-dose FDA-approved or FDA-authorized mRNA COVID-19 vaccine do not need to restart the vaccine series in the United States. They should receive the second dose as close to the recommended time as possible and upon completion of the 2-dose primary series are considered fully vaccinated."
  • "The following people who received a COVID-19 vaccine that is not currently FDA-approved or FDA-authorized in the United States may be offered a complete FDA-approved or FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine primary series as follows:
    • People who have received only the first dose of a 2-dose COVID-19 primary series listed for emergency use by WHO4
    • People who received all or some of the recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine primary series that is not listed for emergency use by WHO.
  • The minimum interval between receipt of the non-FDA-approved/authorized vaccine and initiation of the FDA-approved/authorized COVID-19 vaccine primary series is at least 28 days."

This would likely be applicable to Excepted Covered Travelers who were either partially vaccinated with a vaccine accepted by the FDA or WHO, or who were vaccinated in whole or in part with a COVID-19 vaccine not accepted by the FDA or WHO prior to being admitted to the United States. Visitors with medical questions regarding vaccination should consult a physician or other appropriate medical provider.

Acceptable Vaccines and the Meaning of Fully Vaccinated

Section 4(a) of Proclamation 10294 charges the Secretary of Health and Human Services, through the Director of the CDC," with implementing the proclamation as it applies to the public health components of the proclamation. This includes:

"(i)    defining and specifying accepted COVID-19 vaccines or combinations of accepted COVID-19 vaccines, and medical contraindications to accepted COVID-19 vaccines or combinations of accepted COVID-19 vaccines, for purposes of this proclamation;

(ii)   defining whether an individual is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and specifying acceptable methods of proving that an individual is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, for purposes of this proclamation;

(iii)  specifying acceptable methods of proving that an individual has arranged to comply with applicable public health requirements and protocols to protect against the further introduction, transmission, and spread of COVID-19 into and throughout the United States, including pre-departure testing, post-arrival testing, post-arrival self-quarantine or self-isolation, and post-arrival vaccination against COVID-19, for purposes of this proclamation;

(iv)   determining whether certain persons qualify as participants in certain clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccination, for purposes of this proclamation;

(v)    maintaining a list of countries where the availability of COVID-19 vaccination is limited, with such countries defined as those where less than 10 percent of the country's total population has been fully vaccinated with any available COVID-19 vaccine or are otherwise determined by the Director of the CDC to qualify as countries where the availability of COVID-19 vaccination is limited; and

(vi)   establishing other public health measures consistent with this proclamation to protect against the further introduction, transmission, and spread of COVID-19 into and throughout the United States by persons described in section 2 of this proclamation."

Acceptable Vaccines

The CDC webpage Requirement for Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination for Air Passengers lists the following vaccines as acceptable for this purpose:

Accepted COVID-19 Vaccines
  Vaccines Approved or Authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Vaccines Listed for Emergency Use (EUL) by the World Health Organization Clinical Trial Vaccines which Have Confirmed Efficacy
Single dose
  •  Janssen/J&J
  • Janssen/J&J
  • Convidecia (CanSinoBIO)
 
2-dose series
  • Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech)
  • Spikevax (Moderna)
  • Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech)
  • Spikevax (Moderna)
  • Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca)
  • Covaxin
  • Covishield
  • BIBP/Sinopharm
  • CoronaVac (Sinovac)
  • Nuvaxovid (Novavax)
  • Covovax
  • Medicago

 

Vaccination with a vaccine not on these lists would not satisfy Proclamation 10294 requirements, until the FDA or WHO adds the vaccine to their lists.

Exception: Participants in certain COVID-19 vaccine trials

Proclamation 10294 Section 3(b)(iv) does provide an exception for "any noncitizen who has participated or is participating in certain clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccination, as determined by the Director of the CDC." CDC Technical Instructions for implementing the proclamation list the qualifying vaccine trials, which, at the time this NAFSA page was last updated, include:

Table 3. Qualifying COVID-19 vaccine candidates that meet CDC criteria for the exception
Manufacturer Vaccine Product(s)
Clover Biopharmaceuticals SCB-2019
Wuhan Institute-Sinopharm WIBP-CorV
Sanofi CoV2 preS dTM-AS03
Shifa Pharmed-Barkat Coviran® (Inactivated, produced in Vero cells)
Zhifei Longcom, China Recombinant Novel Coronavirus Vaccine (CHO Cell)

According to the CDC Technical Instructions, to qualify under this exception the passenger must present to the airline official documentation of participation in one of the above clinical trials (e.g., clinical trial letter, participant card, or modified vaccination card) that includes the following information:

  • "Passenger has participated or is participating in a Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial with a qualifying vaccine candidate listed in Table 3 below that meets CDC criteria for the exception; AND
  • Passenger received the full series of an active (non-placebo) COVID-19 qualifying vaccine candidate, and lists name of the vaccine product and the date(s) received. See table 3 for the list of COVID-19 qualifying vaccine candidates.

If a passenger received the full series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine (non-placebo) in a clinical trial, the passenger is considered fully vaccinated."

Meaning of "Fully Vaccinated"

CDC Amended Order Implementing Proclamation on Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic defines "Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19" as someone for whom it has been:

  • 2 weeks (14 days) or more since a person received one dose of an accepted single-dose-series COVID-19 vaccine; OR

  • 2 weeks (14 days) or more since a person's second dose in a 2-dose series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine; OR

  • 2 weeks (14 days) or more since a person received the full series of an "active" (not placebo) COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S.-based AstraZeneca or Novavax COVID-19 vaccine trials; OR

  • 2 weeks (14 days) or more since a person received a complete series of a vaccine or combination of vaccines listed by CDC in Technical Instructions.

The CDC webpage Requirement for Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination for Air Passengers describes the meaning of "fully vaccinated" for this purpose:

"Are you Fully Vaccinated for Air Travel to the United States?

You are considered fully vaccinated:

  • 2 weeks (14 days) after your dose of an accepted single-dose COVID-19 vaccine.

  • 2 weeks (14 days) after your second dose of an accepted 2-dose series COVID-19 vaccine; or

  • 2 weeks (14 days) after you received the full series of an "active" (not placebo) COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S.-based AstraZeneca or Novavax COVID-19 vaccine trials

  • 2 weeks (14 days) after you received 2 doses of any "mix-and-match" combination of accepted COVID-19 vaccines administered at least 17 days apart*

If you don't meet these requirements, you are NOT considered fully vaccinated.

*CDC has not recommended the use of mix-and-match COVID-19 vaccine primary series. However, such strategies are increasingly common in many countries outside of the United States. Therefore, for the purpose of interpreting vaccination records for travel to the United States, CDC will accept combinations of accepted COVID-19 vaccines."

Proof of Vaccination

CDC Technical Instructions: Types of Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination state that "Airlines or aircraft operators must confirm that every Covered Individual, unless excepted, has presented Proof of Being Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States from any foreign country. Airlines or aircraft operators must review each passenger's paper or digital proof of COVID-19 vaccination to confirm:

  • the personal identifiers (at a minimum, full name and date of birth) on the proof of vaccination match the personal identifiers on the passenger's passport or other travel identification document; AND
  • the passenger meets CDC's definition of Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19.

CDC Technical Instructions: Types of Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination and Table 1. Acceptable Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination describe acceptable proof and provide examples.

In addition to providing vaccine or exception documentation, prior to boarding the traveler will also have to complete and give to the airline an attestation that conforms to the CDC Combined Passenger Disclosure and Attestation.

Negative COVID-19 Viral Test Condition at Air Ports of Entry Rescinded Effective June 12, 2022

Until June 12, 2022, a separate CDC order also required all air travelers (regardless of citizenship) to show results of a negative coronavirus test taken one day preceding their flight's departure from a foreign country traveling to the United States (see details below). The CDC pre-departure testing order, however, was rescinded effective June 12, 2022. Update from the CDC website:

"As of 12:01AM ET on June 12, 2022, CDC will no longer require air passengers traveling from a foreign country to the United States to show a negative COVID-19 viral test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board their flight. For more information, see Rescission: Requirement for Negative Pre-Departure COVID-19 Test Result or Documentation of Recovery from COVID-19 for all Airline or Other Aircraft Passengers Arriving into the United States from Any Foreign Country."

Brief timeline of the pre-departure COVID-19 testing requirement:

  • The negative COVID-19 test requirement applied to all air passengers 2 years or older boarding a flight to the United States, regardless of citizenship.
  • For flights departing through December 5, 2021:
    • Fully vaccinated individuals: The viral test had to be conducted on a sample taken no more than 3 days before the flight's departure from a foreign country.
    • Not fully vaccinated: The viral test had to be conducted on a sample taken no more than 1 day before the flight's departure from a foreign country if the traveler does not show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This also included nonimmigrants who were not fully vaccinated, but who are requesting admission to the United States under an exception to the vaccination requirement of Proclamation of October 25, 2021.
  • For flights departing at or after 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time on December 6, 2021 and before 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time on June 12, 2022:
    • The viral test had to be conducted on a sample taken no more than 1 day before the flight's departure from a foreign country, regardless of vaccination status. This also includes nonimmigrants who are not fully vaccinated, but who are requesting admission to the United States under an exception to the vaccination requirement of Proclamation 10294 of October 25, 2021.
  • For flights departing to the United States from a foreign country at or after 12:01am ET (4:01am GMT) on June 12, 2022:

Vaccine Requirement at Land Ports of Entry

Update: On January 20, 2022 DHS announced:

“Starting on January 22, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security will require that non-U.S. individuals entering the United States via land ports of entry or ferry terminals along our Northern and Southern borders be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and be prepared to show related proof of vaccination,” said Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “These updated travel requirements reflect the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to protecting public health while safely facilitating the cross-border trade and travel that is critical to our economy.”

Acceptable vaccines for land and ferry POEs include the same list of vaccines acceptable for travel through air POEs.

In a pair of Federal Register notices published on January 24, 2022 but effective January 22, 2022, CBP announced the end of the prior "essential travel" restrictions on entry through a land or ferry port of entry at the Canadian and Mexican borders, replacing those restrictions with a vaccine requirement virtually identical to the one that governs entry through air ports of entry, discussed above. Unlike air travel, however, travel through a land or ferry port of entry will not require travelers to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to entry.

The notices state:

"Under the temporary restrictions, DHS will allow processing for entry into the United States of only those noncitizen non-LPRs who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and can provide proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 upon request. The restrictions provide for limited exceptions, largely consistent with the limited exceptions currently available with respect to COVID-19 vaccination in the international air travel context. Unlike past actions of this type, this Notification does not contain an exception for essential travel."

The vaccination requirement at U.S. land and ferry ports of entry does not apply to:

  • U.S. citizens and U.S. nationals
  • Lawful permanent residents of the United States
  • American Indians who have a right by statute to pass the borders of, or enter into, the United States

The DHS land port of entry policy establishes several exceptions very similar to the exceptions available for air travelers, including:

  • "Certain categories of persons on diplomatic or official foreign government travel as specified in the CDC Order;
  • persons under 18 years of age;
  • certain participants in certain COVID-19 vaccine trials as specified in the CDC Order;
  • persons with medical contraindications to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine as specified in the CDC Order;
  • persons issued a humanitarian or emergency exception by the Secretary of Homeland Security;
  • persons with valid nonimmigrant visas (excluding B-1 [business] or B-2 [tourism] visas) who are citizens of a country with limited COVID-19 vaccine availability, as specified in the CDC Order;
  • members of the U.S. Armed Forces or their spouses or children (under 18 years of age) as specified in the CDC Order; and,
  • persons whose entry would be in the U.S. national interest, as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security."

However, as is the case with the "national interest" exception for air travel, DHS has not specified any blanket national interest determinations, nor has it provided any guidance on how individuals might qualify for a national interest exception to the vaccination requirement. Review the discussion of vaccination exceptions in the air travel context, above.

Also note that although the prior land port of entry restrictions had considered "Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions" and "Individuals traveling to work in the United States" as "essential travel" exempt from the prior restrictions, the policy effective January 22, 2022 no longer treats such travel as exceptions to the full vaccination requirement.

DHS Frequently Asked Questions: Entering the U.S. Through a Land Port of Entry and or Ferry Terminal confirm that, unlike air travel, there is not a pre-departure COVID viral test requirement for travel through a land POE:

"Q: Do individuals need proof of a negative COVID-19 test like you do to travel by plane?

A: No. There is not a COVID-19 testing requirement for travelers at land POEs."

Revocation of Geographic COVID-19 Proclamations
Links to Government Sources