Skip to content

Don't forget to check travel requirements for your international flight — many countries still have entry hurdles

July 01, 2022
5 min read
Portugal airport COVID sign
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

While the United States recently scrapped its pre-entry COVID-19 testing mandate, some countries around the world continue to require COVID-19 testing, proof of COVID vaccination and specific documentation for entry.

The airline check-in process may require evidence and input of this documentation before you can proceed with your trip. In addition, some countries will require additional documentation at border control, and at least in the case of Japan, a new specialized type of tourist visa.

In this summer of hectic travel and flight disruptions, be sure to take a little time and do the research well ahead of your journey to determine any potential entry requirements. You won't want any last-minute surprises before what may already be a stressful trip.

TPG took a look at a few popular countries with continued entry requirements, as well as some that recently dropped their mandates. Requirements can change on a daily basis, so check again with your airline, hotel, tour group, or country tourism website for the latest information well before your departure date — and again as your trip approaches.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Entry requirements can vary

The ArriveCAN electronic entry registration page. (Screenshot from canada.ca)

Many countries have scrapped their pre-entry requirements, no longer mandating COVID-19 testing or even asking for proof of vaccination. Destinations that have eased entry requirements over the past couple of months include Italy and Cyprus, Greece, Switzerland, and Bermuda.

Most European countries, including England, France and Germany do not require any testing or vaccination documentation prior to entry.

Related: Country-by-country guide to coronavirus reopenings

However, a number of destinations, even those not requiring testing, have implemented mandatory pre-arrival digital registration systems. This includes Australia's Digital Passenger Declaration, Canada's ArriveCAN, and South Korea's Q-Code. These registrations can typically be completed up to two to seven days before your departure.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

For most of these registration programs, you'll need a number of documents on hand. Don't wait until you're at the airport to begin securing them, or you may be out of luck.

Airlines should remind you of the registration requirement prior to checking in (or when booking a flight). However, as regulations change quickly, it's important to double-check with the destination prior to your departure.

My experience with a registration process

As one example, I recently traveled to Canada, pre-registering using the ArriveCan program — but only learning about the program as I reviewed my flight details.

The process took me just about 10 minutes once I gathered the required documents. I needed to create a user name and ID in the program (with email verification), then input my passport data, flight and travel information, as well as my vaccination status.

The program asked for verification that I had received two doses of vaccine, but nothing related to a booster shot. Once completed, the ArriveCan system generated a QR code for a physical printout or digital display to be used upon entry. Upon my arrival at Montreal's YUL airport, I was not asked to present the QR code (possibly because it was attached to my passport information). However, travelers should have the QR code ready for presentation just in case.

As a bonus, the ArriveCan program allows passengers to pre-register for customs declaration, eliminating the need for additional forms or questions at the airport. I did have a slight delay when I couldn't quickly answer a border official's question about where I was staying in Canada. He eventually passed me through, though, when he grew tired of me searching on my phone and in my documents for the information.

Document requirements

Beyond countries like Canada that have streamlined digital systems, some destinations still require an additional back-and-forth document exchange for entry. For example, TPG editor Senitra Horbrook's planned July trip to the Caribbean island of St. Kitts requires her to submit pre-arrival COVID negative test results, a vaccine certificate, as well as an online customs, immigration and health declaration forms.

After submission, she'll wait for approval from the Ministry of National Security.

Japan is one continuing outlier in the travel process. It recently reopened for tourism — but with tight restrictions and requirements. Japan continues to require a pre-arrival negative COVID-19 test along with vaccination documentation. It also currently requires a visa for entry, with tourists allowed only as part of an accredited tour group.

In addition, visitors must sign a code-of-conduct form attesting to their obedience to health regulations. Japan's regulations continue to change on a monthly basis, so potential travelers there should check in regularly with the Japan National Tourism website for information.

Related: Japan reopens for tourists — but only in tour groups

Bottom line

Most countries worldwide have relaxed or completely eliminated COVID-related entry requirements. However, a significant number of destinations still require some form of vaccine or health documentation before arrival. Travelers should be aware that restrictions may still be in place for their end destination.

Be sure to check with your airline, tour operator or your destination's health website about a week before your planned date of departure to validate what requirements may be in place. You may need to arrange a COVID test, register for a digital entry program or make copies of your vaccination certificates, none of which you'll want to be doing at the last minute at the airport before an international trip.

Featured image by Porto Airport testing (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best for earning alternative rewards for travel purchases
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review
Apply for Credit One Bank Wander® Card
at Credit One Bank's secure site

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10XEarn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
5XEarn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
1XEarn 1x points on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 10,000 Bonus Points
Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

Fair/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The revamped Wander Card from Credit One Bank earns cardmembers up to 10 points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases. With no foreign transaction fees, the card is also great for international travel. However, points earned from this card can only be used at a fixed value, so it may not be the best option for those striving to get maximum value from their rewards.

Pros

  • This card has no foreign transaction fees and earns up to 10 points per dollar on travel purchases through the Credit One Bank travel partner site.

Cons

  • While cardholders can earn a significant amount of points on travel purchases, there isn't any way to redeem points from the Wander Card for maximum value (beyond 1 cent per point).
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for Credit One Bank Wander® Card
at Credit One Bank's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for earning alternative rewards for travel purchases
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
5XEarn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
1XEarn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel

    Earn 10,000 Bonus Points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    Fair/Good

Why We Chose It

The revamped Wander Card from Credit One Bank earns cardmembers up to 10 points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases. With no foreign transaction fees, the card is also great for international travel. However, points earned from this card can only be used at a fixed value, so it may not be the best option for those striving to get maximum value from their rewards.

Pros

  • This card has no foreign transaction fees and earns up to 10 points per dollar on travel purchases through the Credit One Bank travel partner site.

Cons

  • While cardholders can earn a significant amount of points on travel purchases, there isn't any way to redeem points from the Wander Card for maximum value (beyond 1 cent per point).
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees