Skip to content

Covid-19: what are the rules for traveling to the USA?

new york skyline
The Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline. (Photo Didier Forray)

The usual formalities for nationals of the European Union

If you are a citizen of the European Union or Switzerland and wish to stay for a maximum of 90 days in the United States, you must present the following documents:

  • A return plane ticketin order to prove your exit from American territory.
  • A biometric passport. Please note that your passport must not contain stamps attesting to a stay in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen since March 1, 2011.
  • An electronic travel authorization, ESTA. You must complete this authorization at least 72 hours before departure on the official ESTA website. This authorization costs $14. To help you, follow my step-by-step presentation to complete the ESTA.
  • When booking your plane ticket and hotel, also be sure to take out travel insurance that takes into account Covid-19. See the article on Covid-19 travel insurance for the USA. This insurance is not compulsory but I strongly recommend it.

Additional formalities with regard to sanitary measures

In addition to the usual formalities, the American administration has decided to put in place special health measures for people who wish to travel to the USA. You have to :

  • Present a certificate of vaccination against Covid-19 with one of the vaccines accepted in the United States, namely Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson-Janssen and Sinopharm. US authorities require that people who have been vaccinated with a vaccine requiring 2 doses (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Sinopharm) have received the 2 doses and the second dose must have been injected 14 days before departure for the USA. The French one-dose vaccination schedule for people sick with Covid is therefore not recognized in the USA.
  • Since December 6, 2021, you must present the result of a negative Covid-19 test carried out within 24 hours prior to departure. This test can be of the PCR or antigenic type. Attention, no need to count the hours precisely: the CDC, the authority in charge of health in the USA, indicates that the test must simply have been carried out the day before your departure. The CDC states: For example, if your flight is at 1 p.m. on a Friday, you can board with a negative test that was taken any time the previous Thursday.”
  • Travelers should also wear a protective mask for the duration of the flight and comply with mask-wearing obligations in places that require mask-wearing. The US government does not indicate a preference for the type of mask and therefore you can opt for a classic mask or an FFP2 mask. This rule is in place until March 18, 2022.
  • Good news: no quarantine is imposed upon arrival.

Good to know: it is possible to enter the USA without vaccination against Covid-19 but in very specific cases, for example for someone who is intolerant to vaccines against Covid-19. You will then have to provide supporting documents accepted by the American authorities. Go to the official White House website.

Rules for children

Like adults, children must follow the usual formalities to enter the United States. Each child, whatever their age, must in particular have an ESTA electronic authorization. Regarding Covid-19:

  • US authorities have announced that children and adolescents under the age of 18 are exempt from the obligation to vaccinate against Covid-19. They can therefore travel without restriction.
  • Children 2 years and older must present a negative Covid-19 test carried out the day before departure. The test can be a PCR test or an antigen test.
  • Children 2 years and older will be required to wear a mask throughout the trip to the USA. They will also have to respect the rules for wearing a mask on site, like adults.

The rules to follow for the French

If you are French, you must also follow the rules decided by the French government:

  • Since February 12, 2022, you no longer need to take a Covid test to be able to return to France, as long as you are vaccinated against Covid-19. “For travelers vaccinated within the meaning of European regulations, no more tests will be required on departure”, states the press release from Prime Minister Jean Castex published on February 11, 2022.

Everything you need to prepare for your trip to New York

  • To prepare for your next trip to New York, visit our CNEWYORK website! Book your entrance tickets, helicopter flights, cruises, passes, musicals and other excursions on our site. This Christmas, catch the famous Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall.
  • Order our New York destination guide. Our 256-page, full-color guidebook features everything you need to know and see in New York. The guide is ranked 1st in sales on Amazon in the “Cultural Guides” category!
  • Finally, book your guided tours of New York in French. Laurène, Océane, Bénédicte, Bouchra and Virginie are waiting for you ! It’s the best way to not miss anything in New York and discover the must-see places and neighborhoods off the beaten track. For Christmas, take part in our unmissable visit Santa’s neighborhood and treat yourself to a photo shoot in New York.
The CNEWYORK guide team
The CNEWYORK guide team. (Photo DR)
Previous postCovid-19: what insurance to take before a stay in the USA?
Next postCovid-19: New York mayor imposes new rules for children aged 5 to 11

Journalist specializing in tourism, I founded the site ©New York in 1999. But my passion for travel obviously does not stop in New York. And that’s how I created a site on London, Rome and France.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.