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Factsheet: Biden administration releases additional details for implementation of safer, stricter international air transport system

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As we continue to work to protect people from COVID-19, the Biden administration today is releasing additional details on the implementation of the new international air travel policy requiring foreign travelers to the United States are fully vaccinated. This updated policy establishes a rigorous international travel system that is consistent across the world and guided by public health.

Starting November 8, non-citizen and non-immigrant air travelers to the United States will need to be fully immunized and provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccination status before boarding a plane to travel to the States -United, with a few exceptions. . The updated travel guidelines also include new testing protocols. To further strengthen protections, unvaccinated travelers – whether they are U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPRs), or the small number of unvaccinated foreign nationals excepted – will now need to be tested within one day of their departure. .

Today, the administration is issuing the following documents to implement these requirements: 1) a presidential proclamation to promote the safe resumption of global travel during the COVID-19 pandemic; 2) three orders from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on vaccination, testing and contact tracing; and 3) technical instructions to provide implementation details to airlines and their passengers.

With science and public health as a guide, the United States has developed a new international air transportation system that both improves the safety of Americans here at home and improves the safety of international air travel. Additional details released today give airlines and international air travelers time to prepare for this new policy ahead of the November 8 implementation date. As previously announced, fully vaccinated foreign nationals will also be able to cross the northern and southwestern land borders for non-essential reasons, such as tourism, from November 8. Further details on changes to land border restrictions will be available. in the coming days.

Travelers can find full details of today’s air travel announcement on the CDC and state department websites. A summary is below:

Fully vaccinated status:

  • As of November 8, non-citizen and non-immigrant air travelers to the United States will need to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of immunization status before boarding a plane to travel to the United States

Proof of vaccination:

  • For foreign nationals, proof of vaccination will be required – with a few exceptions – to board the plane.
  • Passengers will need to show their vaccination status and airlines will need to:
    • Match name and date of birth to confirm passenger is the same person listed on proof of vaccination;
    • Determine that the record was issued by an official source (eg, public health body, government agency) in the country where the vaccine was administered;
    • Review critical information to determine if the passenger meets the CDC’s definition to be fully immunized, such as vaccine product, number of vaccine doses received, date (s) of administration, site (for example, clinic vaccination, health care facility) vaccination.
  • The Biden administration will work closely with airlines to ensure these new requirements are successfully implemented.

Vaccines accepted:

  • The CDC has determined that for travel to the United States, accepted vaccines will include vaccines approved or authorized by the FDA and vaccines listed for emergencies (EUL) from the World Health Organization (WHO). .
  • Individuals can be considered fully vaccinated ≥ 2 weeks after receiving the last dose if they have received a single dose from a single dose series approved / authorized by the FDA or approved by the WHO EUL (i.e. i.e. Janssen), or any two-dose combination of a Two-Dose Series of COVID-19 approved / cleared by the FDA or listed by the WHO for emergency use (i.e. mix and match).
  • More details are available in the CDC appendix here.

Improved tests:

  • Previously, all travelers were required to produce a negative viral test result within three days of their trip to the United States.
  • Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT), such as a PCR test, and antigen tests are eligible.
  • As announced in September, the new system strengthens these requirements, so unvaccinated U.S. citizens and LPRs will have to provide a negative test performed within one day of their travel.
  • This means that all fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and LPRs traveling to the United States must be prepared to present documentation of their immunization status along with their negative test result.
  • For Americans who can prove they are fully vaccinated, the same requirement currently in place will apply – they must produce a negative test result within three days of travel.
  • For anyone traveling to the United States who cannot demonstrate complete proof of vaccination, they will need to produce documentation of a negative test within one day of departure.

Requirements for children:

  • Children under the age of 18 are excluded from compulsory vaccination for foreign travelers, given both the ineligibility of some younger children for vaccination, as well as the overall variability of access to vaccination for older children who are eligible to be vaccinated.
  • Children aged 2 to 17 must pass a pre-departure test.
  • If you are traveling with a fully immunized adult, an unvaccinated child can be tested three days before departure (as per the schedule for fully immunized adults). If an unvaccinated child is traveling alone or with unvaccinated adults, they will need to be tested within one day of departure.

Limited exceptions to the vaccination requirement:

  • There is a very limited set of exceptions to the vaccination requirement for foreign nationals. These include exceptions for children under 18, some participants in the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial, those with medical contraindications to vaccines, those who must travel for emergency reasons, or humanitarian workers (with a letter issued by the US government affirming the urgent need to travel), those traveling on non-tourist visas from countries with low vaccine availability (as determined by the CDC) and other categories very narrow.
  • Those who benefit from an exception will generally be required to certify that they will comply with applicable public health requirements, including, with few exceptions, the requirement to be vaccinated in the United States if they have the intend to stay here longer than 60 days.

Contact search:

  • The CDC also issues a contact tracing order that requires all airlines serving the United States to keep on hand – and promptly hand over to the CDC, if necessary – contact information that will allow public health officials to track incoming air travelers who are potentially infected or have been exposed to an infected person.
  • This is an essential public health measure both to prevent the introduction, transmission and spread of new variants of COVID-19 as well as to add an essential prevention tool to deal with other threats. for public health.

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