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We're here to help: Answering readers' top 5 questions of the week

Oct. 15, 2021
5 min read
Parisian Restaurant in St Michel, Latin Quarter
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Editor's Note

This story has been updated with breaking news

At TPG, one of the things we value most is the connection we’ve built with our audience. We receive hundreds of emails from readers each week, asking thoughtful questions, offering suggestions and sometimes even calling out details we missed. While we strive to provide the TPG community with real-time updates, we can't always keep up.

So, we’re adding a new weekly column to our roster entirely based on frequently asked questions submitted by you, our readers, since many of you are often wondering about the same thing when it comes to traveling these days.

Consider this a thank-you from us to you, a token of appreciation for your continued loyalty, via an extra story each week to keep you informed about the latest travel regulations, news and more. Welcome to TPG’s “Weekly Q&A," where we answer five top readers' questions each week.

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

Here are this week's top five questions:

1. Is a negative COVID-19 test still required coming back to the US from abroad?

Yes! For all travelers over the age of 2, proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days before your flight back to the U.S. has been required since the beginning of this year. The test must be a viral test, either a PCR or rapid antigen test, and must include identifying information, such as your name, date of birth and/or passport number. The only exception to this rule is for those who can show documentation of recovery from COVID-19 within the last three months. This testing requirement applies to all travelers, even those fully vaccinated and transiting through the U.S. Full U.S. testing requirements can be found here.

(Photo by Ergin Yalcin via Getty Images)

2. How long does it take to receive a French digital health pass?

As I've previously reported, Americans traveling to France must apply online for a digital health pass, also known as a "pass sanitaire." The pass shows proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test, necessary to enter places like restaurants, cafes, museums, public transit, etc. Due to an enormous backlog of applications for the pass (there were reportedly 80,000 applications waiting to be processed earlier this month), the French government says applications are currently being processed within 16 days on average, although you should expect delays and you may not even get a response until after your trip.

If you are traveling to France soon and still waiting to receive your pass, you can obtain a temporary, 72-hour pass by taking a negative COVID-19 test (antigen or PCR) on the ground in France. TPG readers outlined their experience attempting to navigate the ever-changing application process for France’s digital health pass here.

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A COVID-19 testing site in Marseille, France, on Sept. 11. (Photo by Gerard Bottino/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

3. I’ve applied for the French health pass but didn’t receive it in time for my trip. What do I do?

TPG freelance reporter Terry Ward chronicled her recent trip to Paris, Montpelier and the South of France, where he had little issue showing proof of vaccination when requested, despite not having the elusive digital health pass.

There was “sometimes mild confusion at this paper I proffered instead of my phone when asked to show the pass, but my CDC vaccination card was never rejected anywhere,” he wrote. Although the digital health pass is your safest bet, your card issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should suffice for proof of vaccination throughout France.

(Photo by Onfokus via Getty Images)

4. Can I travel to Europe if I am vaccinated?

Yes, and that likely won’t change. Nearly half of the 27 European Union nations have reissued travel restrictions due to rising COVID-19 cases, to either allow only vaccinated visitors from the U.S. or to require quarantine for unvaccinated travelers. If you need to modify your trip because of changing restrictions, read my story about how to change or cancel your travel plans without losing too much money.

The Amalfi Coast in Italy. (Photo by Marco Bottigelli via Getty Images)

5. Speaking of, when is the US opening to EU travelers?

On Oct. 15, the Biden administration announced that vaccinated passengers, including those from both the EU and U.K., will be welcome back to the country starting Nov. 8, as part of a plan to reopen to international travelers who have been banned from entering the U.S. since March 2020. The aforementioned testing requirement will still apply, so incoming travelers to the U.S. must present results of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of scheduled departure. Unvaccinated Americans returning to the U.S. will be subjected to stricter testing requirements, which are outlined here.

(Photo by Yevhen Borysov via Getty Images)

Got a question for next week? Email me at or

Featured image by Getty Images
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.