Skepticism is fairly warranted at this point, but the United States will finally drop blanket travel bans in place for visitors from the UK and Europe. After months of waiting, there’s finally a confirmed date, too.
Ahead of the exciting announcement, here’s what to expect, what won’t change, and how to properly go about travel planning in the interim, including newly released info on what counts as proof of vaccination, and who might be exempt.
Of course, there will be some big airline sales to follow the big news.
US Drops Blanket Travel Bans November 8th
As speculated, the United States will drop blanket travel bans impacting entire countries and regions, in favor of more science and nuance based approaches allowing entry to all fully vaccinated visitors from November 8th, 2021.
Basically, you can visit the US again as a visitor (don’t forget your ESTA) from this date, but only if you’re fully vaccinated — or under 18 if you’re not.
The plans will become a part of the larger framework intended to reshape US travel policy, introduced by the Biden Administration, according to the FT, including more contact tracing, with airlines providing email and phone information.
Under the new system, all visitors must be vaccinated and take a negative test within 3 days of travel. That’s pretty much it.The test can be antigen or PCR, and can even be an approved “at home” test supervised by a clinician.
For unvaccinated Americans, travelers would need a negative test within 24 hours of departure to the United States, and would also need a post arrival test.
Initial worries were that anything involving “working groups” or new “systems” for US travel would take months, but that does not appear to be the case. Details of which vaccines will be eligible are also now here.
This means Britons, Europeans and people from other areas of the globe currently subjected to bans will be allowed to visit the United States once again, provided they are fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine, and can prove it. They’ll just need a test before departure.
The travel bans will be lifted from November 8th. On the news, new bookings for US travel surged as much as 700%. Of course, masks are still required on planes, until at least January, and that date is likely to be extended.
Approved Vaccines For US Travel
The US has provided some clarity on which vaccines will be accepted, giving a big boost to travel plans, for people vaccinated outside of the US, or with a vaccine not offered in the US. You can read up on the list here, and confirm that against the official US Travel resource, here.
In short: if the vaccine is accepted in the US, or by the WHO it will be approved for entry to the United States. Mix and match vaccination regimens which have been fully completed will also be ok, and people under 18 traveling with an adult do not need to be fully vaccinated but must be tested before departure.
The FT also reports those involved in UK clinical trials will also likely be given ‘fully vaccinated’ status by the United States, as well.
Take Advantage Of Flexible Travel Policies
Many airlines and hotels are still offering flexibility policies for travel, which make it easier to swap dates without pesky fees, or without any fees at all.
Amid all the good news and increasing vaccination rates, these policies are likely to be lifted sooner than later. Airlines have been particularly eager for the US to end blanket bans impacting the UK and Europe, so major sales are likely to follow. Personally, I’ll be waiting for Black Friday & Cyber Monday.
It might be worth taking advantage of the great flight pricing while it includes added flexibility, but that must be weighed against potential discounts in upcoming sales.
However the new US system for international travel is enacted ESTA’s will remain a requirement for entry and must now be renewed at least 72 hours before departure. Before booking any trips, it’s always good to ensure you have a valid ESTA, with plenty of time left on it.