New U.S. Vaccination Check And Testing Requirements For International Passengers

The Biden administration has announced new more stringent Covid-19 testing requirements for unvaccinated travelers and contact tracing requirements for entering the country by air. And as part of that process, passengers will need to document their vaccination status to determine the testing requirements they’ll have to undergo.

The U.S. currently requires a negative Covid-19 test taken within three calendar days in order to enter the country by air (but not to cross land borders). Alternatively passengers can show documentation of recovery from prior infection within the past 90 days.

  • There’s no vaccination requirement, or vaccine check
  • Prior infection is recognized for its immunity, but not vaccination, which is odd because the reverse is true in almost every other government policy. (Immunity from prior infection and one dose of an mRNA vaccine is the gold standard for immunity based on current scientific knowledge.)

Going forward the U.S. will be requiring airlines to check vaccination status, and those who are unvaccinated will have to:

  • Test the same day or day prior to returning to the U.S.
  • Show proof that they have puchased a second test to take after arrival

There will also be new contact tracing procedures with airlines collecting phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Currently airlines may not have this information if tickets were booked through a third party agent.

Since Covid-19 prevalence in the U.S. remains elevated, and there are still several states were less than half the population is vaccinated, requiring Covid-19 testing for vaccinated Americans is silly. We aren’t keeping out new variants, those are already here and growing here. And such travelers pose less of a threat than the people you bump into in a restaurant or bar in Texas or Florida. Yet the U.S. is not reducing restrictions on those who are vaccinated, which might serve as a carrot alongside the sticks being used to pressure people to vaccinate.

The White House coronavirus advisor Jeff Zients says the “new international travel system follows the science to keep Americans and international air travel safe.” There remains no vaccination or testing requirement to enter the U.S. via Mexico’s land border.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Jeff Zients says the “new international travel system follows the science to keep Americans and international air travel safe.”

    Jeff is a science and fact denier. In fact, he sounds more like a troll.

  2. The trolls are really the ones running the White House and Joey’s stuttering mouth. Scary indeed. Just as bad as Trump but in a different way. And, of course, when things are done wrong, which is often, the trolls can always blame Trump.

  3. I’ve now been through Mexicali 2 twice since June with Global Crossing and the single agent each time was running vehicles through just about as fast as he could scan the cards. Sunday I got asked if I had anything to declare (I said, 3 hard cheeses), but there was no provision for secondary inspections.

    Compare and contrast to the last time back from Paris when processing through PHX I declared (permitted) rilletes and the mid-20s Nazi with quite the attitude enjoyed delaying us for half an hour while he went through the “inspection”. No I did nothing to aggravate the situation, that would be dumb for getting through.

    Now, I happen to think that the expedited crossing protocol, which harkens back to my pre-9/11 experiences, is a Good Thing. There is always leakage. But I would have absolutely no problem showing my laminated vaccination card; or better, some sort of approved app, as my friends have in the EU.

  4. Was is not clear from Gary’s note is what the protocol is for those who have been vaccinated.

  5. IMO, this is dumb. If you had prior infection (but only in the past 90 days) you don’t need a test. If you’re vaccinated (“fully”, meaning 2 weeks past 2nd shot for mRNA), you STILL have to be tested? I thought the new admin was supposed to follow the science?

  6. Someone check if Hunter is invested in a European testing company – with a share set aside for The Big Guy.

  7. Great news. Because we know all those japanese and europeans and americans returning from $3000 mediterranean cruises are really the problem in controlling covid coming in from foreign countries.
    America is so woke we can’t even solve the clear problem everyone knows we have but no one wants to even mention.

  8. Why is natural immunity not considered? This is about control and misery. Welcome to hell. Dont come here it sucks

  9. Yes, the clear problem that does not get enough attention is the low vaccination, low mask usage, high case and death rate states that prohibit private businesses and others from trying to keep themselves safe with vaccine and mask mandates and are otherwise clearly not doing enough to stop the spread of the virus. Whatever happened to not regulating private businesses and to protecting your residents?

    Meanwhile, many of these states are, without evidence, blaming Mexico.

  10. I agree that these requirements should apply to land borders
    * ~1/3 of those who survived COVID-19 have lifetime debilitations
    * 1 in 500 Americans have already died of COVID-19
    * More Americans have already died of COVID-19 than in the 1918 pandemic
    * And yet still 2,000 Americans are dying every day of COVID-19 – NOW
    * The number of Americans dying every day of COVID-19 is INCREASING
    * Vaccinations work extremely well and are safe

  11. Good for America. I also think we should make drugs illegal and spend billions of dollars waging a war on stopping people from getting them. That will really help the problem and stop anyone from ever dying of drugs again. Ditto to illegal immigration.

  12. “Since Covid-19 prevalence in the U.S. remains elevated, and there are still several states were less than half the population is vaccinated, requiring Covid-19 testing for vaccinated Americans is silly.”

    Why? A mere fact that we have a bad Covid situation doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try and reduce more Covid cases coming from abroad, especially that we know that vaccine protection against Delta is waning out. While I’m fully vaccinated and would like to be exempt from this rule, I understand why it exists, and getting an antigen test is easy anyway.

  13. “The U.S. currently requires a negative Covid-19 test taken within three calendar days in order to enter the country by air (but not to cross land borders).”

    Well of course it doesn’t pertain to land borders! That wouldn’t fit the left’s narrative allowing everyone to cross freely from Mexico! Duh!

  14. Vaccinated or not, you can carry and transfer the virus. So this is really all smoke and mirrors to cover for the fact that the vax isn’t working as well as people had hoped. Cases reaching prior peaks but with half the US population vaccinated? Yeah.

  15. The migrant refugees are screened for Covid.
    Wow these comments sections have really deteriorated to a playground for the racists still pining for the return of the pussygrabber in chief.

  16. Ah, I see we have both the rightwing immigration nuts and the anti-vaxxers in the house today.

    FACT: immigration, illegal or otherwise, is not meaningfully contributing to COVID spread in the US right now. Let’s see DeSantis, Abbott, Ducey and their ilk take COVID mitigation and vaccination seriously. Then we can talk about the relation of “the crisis at the Southern border” to COVID spread.

    FACT: The vaccines are working just fine. Significantly reduce transmission and spread (no, not completely prevent) amongst the vaccinated. Drastically reduce hospitalization and death among the vaccinated. Just look at the stats (where they are reported) about vaccination status of who is hospitalized and who is not.

    Internet comment threads are a terrible place for fact and reason.

  17. “Follows the science”

    Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of illegals have crossed the southern border without testing or vaccination.

  18. It’s like nobody is in charge in the executive branch. One gets the feeling that there are these people behind the scenes not agreeing with one another and there is no arbiter (you know, like, a President…).

    So we end up with these delayed decisions, and then the outcome is a mishmash that doesn’t make any sense, whether based on policy consistency, science, or anything else.

    Like others have said, how does it make any sense to require *testing* from *vaccinated* individuals? This destroys the certainty required for the average person traveling internationally – and let’s not even begin to talk about the hardship and cost it imposes on families traveling with children.

    And, get this, the land border closure for Canadians has been extended once again! What the…?….

    One thing is for sure, those of us (myself included) who thought that a new administration would bring sanity and competency back were sadly and gravely mistaken.

  19. It’s really a hodgepodge of science, politics, bureaucracy and more. There is no science on earth that will say that a fully vaccinated Canadian is a bigger risk coming to the U.S. than an unvaccinated Russian, yet that’s the message. Europeans from countries with 1/10 of our COVID rates can’t come, but Brazilians and Indonesians can. So much of the messaging is still based on what we thought we knew in April 2020. The previous administration didn’t even pretend to care about science. This one pretends to, but its actions speak loudly to the contrary.

    I agree with the need for both carrots and sticks. Time to retire those four deadly words, “Regardless of vaccination status.” End the testing requirement for vaccinated Americans, while retaining the right to do a rapid test on anyone with apparent symptoms or on a spot check basis. A substantial majority of American adults now have been vaccinated. Before that was possible, treating everyone the same was fair. Now it is not.

  20. @James N
    675,000 dead. The number of dead increasing. What is your solution, genius? Hiding behind your door?
    Read Jake’s post above. His FACTS are accurate. Get your head out of your ASS.

  21. “The number of dead increasing.”

    The number of dead rarely decreases. Just thought I’d point that out for those who wonder if it can go the other way.

  22. @C_M. The number of dead CAN stop increasing by remaining static. What @Rog refers to, I think, is the rate of increase. In a rich country like the US of A there is ample scope to minimize covid infections and deaths through vaccination but self-centred a*holes (many featured in this thread) refuse to make the tiny sacrifice to safeguard others. How pathetic! They are cowards hiding from humanity’s battle. Vaccine passports are the way to go. A woman I know who was an adamant anti-vaxxer made a beeline to the clinic when she found out that the only way to avoid quarantine in Canada was to get the jabs. Yes, I agree; the Biden policies on vaccination and travel to the US are bizarre and inconsistent in the extreme. That Zients dimwit has to be given the boot. What science is he following?

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