UK to US travel restrictions: Covid entry requirements as travel ban lifted - and how to get an antigen test

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UK travellers must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter the US and show proof of a negative viral test after arrival

Travel to the United States is now back on the cards for UK travellers as the country reopens its borders after almost two years.

The US issued a blanket ban on travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic, preventing travellers from entering for leisure purposes.

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Thousands of eager holidaymakers jetted off to the States from Heathrow Airport on Monday (8 November) morning as travel restrictions lifted, with the resumption of flights hailed as a “momentous” occasion.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic operated a synchronised departure from the London airport to celebrate the end of the travel ban, with the aircraft taking off for New York from parallel runways at 8.51am.

But while the travel ban is no longer in effect, strict entry restrictions are still in force.

So if you are planning a trip to the US, these are all the rules you will need to follow.

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What are the US entry requirements?

From Monday 8 November, foreign travellers who are fully vaccinated with any Covid-19 vaccine approved for emergency use by the World Health Organisation (WHO) or the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

This includes the AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer and Janssen vaccines.

Children under the age of 18 are exempt from the vaccination requirement.

Fully vaccinated travellers arriving in the US from the UK are required to get a Covid-19 test no more than three days before their flight departs.

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Only travellers with an exemption for vaccination or US Citizens, US Nationals, and US Lawful Permanent Residents will be able to enter the US unvaccinated.

It is also a requirement that air passengers wear a mask while on board flights and in airports.

Travellers are required to wear face masks air passengers wear a mask while on board flights to the US and in airports (Photo: Getty Images)Travellers are required to wear face masks air passengers wear a mask while on board flights to the US and in airports (Photo: Getty Images)
Travellers are required to wear face masks air passengers wear a mask while on board flights to the US and in airports (Photo: Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

What are the rules after arrival?

Travellers who are fully vaccinated do not need to self-isolate once in the US, but are required to take a viral test within three to five of arrival.

Those who have not been fully vaccinated, but are allowed to travel to the US through an exception, are required to:

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  • take a Covid-19 test within three to five days after arrival
  • self-quarantine for seven days after arrival in the US, even if you test negative, unless you have an exception
  • become fully vaccinated, if staying 60 days or longer, within 60 days of arrival in the US or as soon as medically appropriate. Those who have a medical contraindication or are too young to be vaccinated are exempt.

Children under the age of 18 who are not fully vaccinated are exempt from the quarantine requirement, but must take a test within three to five days after arrival. If they test positive, or develop any symptoms, they should self-isolate.

Details on what tests are acceptable are listed on the CDC website. You can find a US Covid-19 testing site on the US Department of Health and Human Services website.

How do I prove my vaccination status?

The US will accept the NHS Covid Pass as proof or Covid-19 vaccination and recovery, as well as a printout of a Covid-19 vaccination record or a Covid-19 vaccination certificate issued by an authorised vaccine provider.

All forms of Covid status must include your name and date of birth, the name of the official source issuing the vaccination record, the vaccine manufacturer and the date(s) you received your vaccine.

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The CDC website lists all of the acceptable forms of proof of Covid-19 status.

What is a viral test?

Fully vaccinated travellers are required to take a viral test within three to five days of arrival in the US.

A viral test checks if you have a current infection, and includes nucleic amplification tests (NAATs) and antigen tests.

The test involves taking specimens from your nose or mouth to check if you are currently infected with Covid-19.

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These tests can be carried out at home, or at a testing site.

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