U.S. will allow vaccinated foreign travelers to enter starting Nov. 8

Travelers leaving baggage claim area of airport
Travelers leave the baggage claim area at San Diego International Airport.
(Hayne Palmour IV / San Diego Union-Tribune)

The U.S. will open its borders to vaccinated foreign travelers starting Nov. 8, a White House official said Friday, in a move that will expand travel options for those who have gotten their COVID-19 shots while keeping them restricted for those who haven’t.

The measures are the biggest changes to U.S. travel policy since the early days of the pandemic, and replace a system that flatly barred most foreign nationals coming directly from certain places, including Europe, India, Brazil and China.

Under the new system, vaccinated people who have had a negative test in the prior 72 hours will be able to board a flight to the U.S. as long as they share contact-tracing information. Unvaccinated foreigners will be generally barred from entry, while unvaccinated Americans will need a negative COVID-19 test.


The move was first announced Sept. 20, but the Biden administration didn’t immediately say when the liberalization would kick in. Airlines, which have battered by the coronavirus crisis, have applauded the move. Transatlantic flights between the U.S. and Europe — filled with premium travelers — had been the single-most profitable segment of the global aviation market.

Most of Europe is allowing vaccinated Americans to visit, but the U.S. is retaining its ban on European arrivals.

Aug. 19, 2021

The Nov. 8 date applies to air travel rules, as well as to an opening of the land borders with Canada and Mexico announced earlier this week.

The U.S. will consider people arriving by plane to be vaccinated if they received shots that are either authorized by the Food and Drug Administration or have an Emergency Use Listing from the World Health Organization. The same will likely apply to those arriving by land, the official said.

The decision to accept WHO-cleared shots not used in the U.S. that means millions of travelers who have received doses developed by AstraZeneca, as well as China’s Sinopharm Group and Sinovac Biotech, will be allowed to enter.

It’s not yet clear how the U.S. will treat people who have mixed shots — a first dose of one vaccine followed by a dose of another.