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Here's what we know about the US reopening on Nov. 8

Oct. 26, 2021
5 min read
Orlando, Florida, United States - People wait in line at a TSA security checkpoint at Orlando International Airport on Thanksgiving eve, November 25, 2020, in Orlando, Florida. Thousands of travelers are ignoring CDC warnings to avoid holiday travel as COVID-19 cases are surging across the United States
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Editor's Note

This is a continually updated story

As the United States moves closer to its Nov. 8 reopening date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), State Department and White House issued more specific guidance regarding vaccination and testing requirements for incoming travelers to the U.S. earlier this week.

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As previously announced on Oct. 15, the U.S. will reopen its borders on Nov. 8 to both fully vaccinated international visitors and returning U.S. citizens.

"Today’s announcement means that on Nov. 8, non-U.S. citizens who are not immigrants to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of their vaccination status to fly to the United States," the CDC said in a press statement. "There will be very limited exceptions to this vaccination requirement for certain non-U.S. citizens who are not immigrants, including children under the age of 18."

Vaccination proof required for non-U.S. citizens

Vaccination proof will be required for all non-U.S. citizens entering the U.S. starting Nov. 8. Passengers are considered to be fully vaccinated 14 days after their final dose of a two-dose or one-dose vaccine.

Acceptable vaccines are those that have been authorized or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO), including Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Cvishield, Sinopharm and Sinovac. Additional information on acceptable COVID-19 vaccines is available from the CDC. The CDC declined to comment for this story.

Passengers will need to show a vaccination record to airlines for proof of vaccination, including via a hard paper copy, photo of the record or digital version. Airlines will be responsible for determining that the record was issued by an official source in the country the vaccine was administered, per the State Department.

Read more: New travel restrictions will require unvaccinated Americans to face additional testing

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Predeparture testing still required for all, regardless of vaccination status

While U.S. citizens entering the U.S. will not be required to show vaccination proof, all travelers over the age of 2, regardless of whether they are vaccinated, are subject to a predeparture testing requirement to enter the country, either via a rapid antigen or PCR test.

Per new guidance issued on Oct. 25, unvaccinated travelers will be subject to stricter testing requirements and must show proof of a negative test taken within one day of travel to the U.S., in addition to a second test upon arrival. Vaccinated individuals on the other hand, must show results of a test taken within three days of scheduled departure to the country.

"Fully vaccinated air passengers, regardless of citizenship, will continue to be required to show a negative predeparture COVID-19 test taken no more than three days before they board their flight to the United States," said the CDC. "For passengers who are not fully vaccinated, the rules will tighten to require a test taken no more than one day before departing to the United States."

Therefore, vaccinated U.S. citizens should still submit proof of vaccination to their airline before departure to the U.S. in order to qualify to the three-day testing window, per the State Department.

Travelers under 18 are exempt from vaccine requirements, but not predeparture testing

"Children under 18 are exempted from the vaccination requirement for foreign national travelers, given 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," says the State Department, who notes that children between the ages of 2 and 17 are still required to submit results of a predeparture test.

Unvaccinated children traveling with fully vaccinated adults can show proof of a negative test taken within three days before departure to align with the testing timeline for fully vaccinated adults. However, unvaccinated children traveling alone or with unvaccinated adults must adhere to the one-day testing requirement.

Those under age 2 are exempted from testing requirements.

Related: Will young kids be vaccinated in time for holiday travel? Here’s what we know

Contact tracing

In addition to the aforementioned testing and vaccine proof requirements, all incoming air travelers must provide contact info to airlines before boarding their flight to allow for COVID-19 contact tracing.

"This will allow airlines to better coordinate with public health agencies to share information when needed to keep the public safe and informed, and strengthen their ability to rapidly identify and contact people in the U.S. who may have been exposed to a communicable disease, such as COVID-19," said the CDC.

Bottom line

Although the Presidential Proclamation issued by President Joe Biden earlier this week and subsequent CDC Order only apply to air travel, a White House official previously told TPG that they expect similar requirements to be applicable at the land border as well.

"Also starting on November 8, foreign nationals crossing the land borders with Canada and Mexico or arriving in the United States by passenger ferry for non-essential reasons, such as to visit friends or family or for tourism, will be required to be fully vaccinated, they said via email. "These travelers are required to be prepared to attest to vaccination status and to present proof of vaccination to a CBP officer upon request. By January, foreign nationals traveling across the land border for both essential and non-essential reasons will be required to be fully vaccinated."

Read more: US will allow vaccinated British, EU travelers from November

Featured image by NurPhoto via 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.

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