Since 17 March 2020, the US borders have been closed to UK and EU travellers. Finally, we’ve got some exciting news to share!
Note: this article was last updated on 25 October 2021 and was correct at time of writing. For the most up to date information, check our travel restrictions page which is updated three times weekly.
Latest UK-US travel news: when can I travel to the US?
The US has confirmed that it will reopen its borders to fully vaccinated travellers from 8 November 2021. With this move, travellers will no longer be subject to the tight restrictions that have been imposed since spring 2020.
From 8 November, passengers will have to show proof of vaccination before boarding a US-bound plane and a negative COVID test result, taken within 72 hours of departure. Children under 18 are exempt from showing proof of vaccination, but all children over the age of two must show a negative COVID test result.
On Monday 1 November, new contact tracing rules will be announced, requiring airlines to collect information from international air passengers “to follow up with travelers who have been exposed to COVID-19 variants or other pathogens.”
To enter the US, the vaccine you’ve received should either be FDA-approved or included in WHO’s Emergency Use Listing. The AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines meet these criteria.
The UK has already opened its borders to quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated US citizens. Since the traffic light system was scrapped, vaccinated travellers to England from the US must now take only one lateral flow test on day two of arriving back in the country. You also have to fill out a passenger locator form before arriving at UK customs.
If you’re not vaccinated, you have to self-isolate for 10 days when you get home and take a second COVID test on day eight.
Can I travel to the US now?
You can only travel to the US right now if you are a permanent US resident or hold a special, limited kind of visa (e.g. for UN staff and diplomats). Since March 2020, British nationals are not allowed to enter (or transit through) the US if they have been in the UK, Ireland, Schengen zone, Brazil, China, India, Iran or South Africa in the previous 14 days, as a travel ban is also in place for these destinations.
This is due to change starting from 8 November, when the US will ease its travel restrictions for fully vaccinated British arrivals.
What are the entry requirements for travel to the US?
If you are eligible to travel to the US, all travellers (aged two and over) must provide a negative, pre-departure COVID test result (antigen or PCR), taken within 72 hours of arrival.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) also requires all arrivals to take a COVID-19 test (NAAT or antigen) three to five days after arrival, and unvaccinated arrivals should then quarantine for seven days. Full details on the US entry policies and recommendations can be read on the US CDC website.
Whether or not you’ve been vaccinated, the CDC still recommends that you wear a mask over your nose and mouth at all times throughout your travel journey – which is required on planes, buses, trains, airports and stations. You should also stay two metres away from others and wash your hands often or use hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol.
Can I travel within the US?
Flights are running, but travel restrictions depend on where you are and where you want to go. State, local and territorial governments have different rules in place, including travel restrictions, stay-at-home orders and testing and quarantine requirements. You can use this search engine to check the local COVID-related requirements in whichever city or zip code that you’re planning travel to.
If you do travel domestically within the US, the CDC recommends that you take a COVID-19 test one to three days before your trip, and three to five days after you travel. It also recommends that you self-isolate for seven days after any domestic travel and avoid any contact with anyone at increased risk from COVID-19. It should go without saying that you must not travel if you test positive, are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or were recently exposed to someone with the virus.
Is the US in lockdown?
While restrictions in the US are easing, the country is a patchwork of different COVID-related restrictions on social distancing, which sometimes differ by state, county and even city. Wherever you are planning to go to, you should check the latest state, county or city advice and restrictions well in advance, and keep an eye on developments.
Travel to the US FAQs
Not if you are fully vaccinated, although all passengers must take a COVID-19 test three to five days after they arrive. If you are not fully vaccinated, the CDC requires that you self-isolate for seven days after arriving in the US.
Yes, you need to show proof of a negative, pre-departure PCR or antigen test on arrival in the US, taken less than 72 hours before arrival.
That can vary between states, counties and even cities. If you are eligible to travel to the US right now, check the local advice and restrictions before heading off.
Where can I go?
Making plans to get back out there? Find out which borders are open with our interactive global map, and sign up to receive email updates when your top destinations reopen.
Want to read more?
- Coronavirus travel advice: our regularly updated advice page
- 10 dream holiday destinations for a post-pandemic break, from Mexico to the Maldives
- 7 destinations for planning a trip a year in advance: Australia, India and the USA, here we come.
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