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(Updated 27 October 2021 and 10 April 2022) Due to the discovery in the United Kingdom of the more transmissible variant of the virus that causes CoVID-19, as of 28 December 2020, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began requiring that airline companies collect US bound traveler attestations and review documentation of negative test results for Covid-19.  From November 8, 2021, they also started to require from non-US citizens and non-US permanent residents:  proof of vaccination from the NHS in the form of the machine readable QR Code "NHS COVID Pass" or documentation of recovery from Covid-19 within the past 90 days.  From December 6, 2021, the proof of negative Covid-19 test needs to be from a specimen given no later than the day before travel.  A national interest exception to travel will no longer be required for fully vaccinated foreign travelers.[1]

Pre-Flight Tests

For air travelers outbound from Britain, the compliant viral tests will be tests determined by the United Kingdom’s relevant national authority to detect SARS-CoV-2. Test results should read “Negative,” “SARS-CoV-2 RNA Not Detected,” or “SARS-CoV-2 Antigent Not Detected.” British Airways has information on obtaining compliant test results on its website.[2]  Both nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs), such as a PCR test, and antigen tests qualify.  A self-test may be used, if it meets the certain requirements, including real-time proctoring by a telehealth service affiliated with the manufacturer of the test.  This type of test will likely be needed to meet the unvaccinated person's, prior day pre-flight test requirement. [3]

Applicable to US Citizens, US Permanent Residents and Other Travelers

Test specimens need to have been collected no earlier than the single (1), calendar day preceding travel to yield a qualifying test result for travel to the US, if from a vaccinated person. Originally, test specimens could be taken in the three days prior to travel from vaccinated individuals, but that rule was amended with effect from 6 December 2021.  The personal identifiers (e.g., name and date of birth) on the test result documentation will need to match the traveler’s personal identifiers. 

While vaccination proof is not required for US citizens and US permanent residents, an unvaccinated US citizen or permanent resident would need to have the certification of a negative Covid-19 test from a specimen given at earliest on the day prior to travel, in order to board a plane bound for the United States.

Pre-Flight Doctor Letter for Those Who Have Had Covid-19 Recently

Those who have had Covid-19 in the 90 days prior to travel to the US will need to show "your positive COVID-19 viral test result on a sample taken no more than 90 days before the flight’s departure from a foreign country and a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel."[4]

Proof of Being Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19

Prior to 8 November 2021, most foreign citizens could not enter the United States due to Presidential Proclamations erecting pandemic related travel bans.  From 8 November 2021 at 12:00 am, if you are a noncitizen, nonimmigrant and are fully vaccinated, you may travel to the US.  You just need to show an acceptable proof of vaccination.  An unexpired NHS Covid-19 Pass will be acceptable proof of vaccination.  We recommend printing a recent NHS Covid-19 Pass with a machine readable QR code prior to check-in.  Take time at least a few days before your flight to register with the NHS to receive this pass, if you have not done so prior to travel.  It can take at least 24-hours for photo-verification to create the necessary NHS account to have the pass issued. 

The vaccine type needs to be acceptable.  Approved vaccination manufacturer jabs in the United Kingdom are approved for travel to the United States.

Exemption from Vaccination Requirement for Foreign Children

Children under 18 are exempted from the vaccination requirement for foreign national travelers.  This policy decision takes into account 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. [5]

Tests for Unvaccinated Children Ages 2-17.  Regardless of nationality, the child's vaccination status, or the vaccination status of the adult with whom they are traveling, a child will need to test at the earliest on the calendar day prior to departure. [6]

CDC Orders Regarding Travel to the US

The December 2020 CDC Order regarding travel to the US from the United Kingdom was expanded to include all travel from outside the US by January 2021.  The original CDC order restricted travel to the US based on negative, pre-flight Covid-19 tests.  The latest CDC order from 25 October 2021 divides test-based restrictions into those for vaccinated and those for unvaccinated travelers. [7] 

The CDC Order mandates that airlines only board passengers, including US citizens and legal permanent residents, headed to the US - if they can produce documentation of a recent negative test result - either on paper or electronically - and proof of vaccination for most non-citizens.  The test result and vaccination evidence must be available at the time of flight check in. 

• Airlines will need to receive an attestation for each traveler aged two years or older, and save the attestations for two years. 

• Travelers who falsify their vaccination paperwork or test results are subject to criminal penalties and/or  administrative fines.
 

Footnotes

[1] US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs, Frequently Asked Questions on COVID-19 Vaccinations and Testing for International Travel (travel.state.gov 26 October 2021). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Requirement for Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination for Air Passengers (CDC 25 October 2021).

[2] British Airways Covid-19 Tests Information (BA 26 October 2021).  British Airways has helpful information for entering the United States in its “by country” entry requirement listings.  British Airways Covid-19 Travel Requirements (BA 26 October 2021).

[3] US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs, Frequently Asked Questions on COVID-19 Vaccinations and Testing for International Travel (26 October 2021).

[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Order "Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Documentation of Recovery from COVID-19” (CDC 25 October 2021).

[5] US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs, Frequently Asked Questions on COVID-19 Vaccinations and Testing for International Travel (26 October 2021).

[6] Foreign nationals under age 18 are an exception to the Covered Individuals rules of the CDC.  Requirement for Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination for Air Passengers (updated 4 April 2022).

[7] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Order, "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" (detailed 21-page order signed 25 October 2021) and "Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Documentation of Recovery from COVID-19” (CDC 25 October 2021).