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US Releases Details of New International Travel System, Effective Nov. 8

The White House has just released an initial outline of its new system for foreign nationals traveling to the United States, which is scheduled to take effect on November 8. The upcoming policy change was first announced back on September 20, though no specific details were given at that time.

But, today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today issued official Orders for implementing the Biden administration’s new travel policy to safely regulate and facilitate international travel in the pandemic era.


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Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

The move will lift the current out-and-out bans on visitors from 33 countries, instead welcoming only fully vaccinated visitors from those areas. In early 2020, in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, the previous administration blanketly banned most non-U.S. citizens who, within the last 14 days, had spent time in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the European Union (including the border-free Schengen zone), China, India, South Africa or Brazil.

“These Orders put in place a stringent and consistent global international travel policy that is guided by public health,” the CDC said in a press release.

The agency’s Orders issued today set forth the new system’s requirements that all non-immigrant, non-U.S. citizens seeking to enter the United States must be fully vaccinated and supply documented proof of their vaccination status. The agency said that exemptions to the vaccination requirements would be very limited, but would include children under the age of 18.

The CDC said earlier this month that it would accept any of the vaccine types authorized for use in the U.S. or approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), and would also accept mixed doses of the two-dose vaccine types.

In addition to proving they’re fully vaccinated, all inbound international passengers will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours prior to their departure for the U.S., regardless of their citizenship. Note that this rule also applies to vaccinated U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents re-entering the country.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection forms.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection forms.

Returning U.S residents who are unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated will be subject to stricter requirements than they are now, and will need to produce a negative test taken no more than 24 hours before boarding their flight.

The CDC also announced that it’s introducing new contact-tracing practices and will rely on airlines to collect inbound international travelers’ basic contact information before they board their U.S.-bound flights.

“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,” the agency said.

In reaction to the news, Tori Emerson Barnes, U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy, said: “U.S. Travel has continuously advocated for the safe reopening of our borders, and today’s guidance detailing how international air travelers can prepare for resumed travel to the United States starting November 8 provides much-needed clarity for planning. We are grateful this additional detail has been made available as we move to reopening to fully vaccinated international travelers, and we look forward to similar guidance in coming days for those qualified visitors who plan to enter via our northern and southern land borders as well.”

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