USA Travel Guidelines
07 Oct 2021

USA Travel Guidelines

USA travel checklist during the pandemic.

The United States of America has imposed a travel ban on high-risk countries in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. It requires travellers to undergo pre-departure tests, observe 14 days of quarantine, and fulfil other basic USA travel guidelines. The USA has also requires transitting passengers to comply with specific guidelines. You can check all the latest travel guidelines for USA on the CDC website.


The United States of America has increased caution for travellers worldwide. The steep rise in Covid -19 cases and the threat of the deadly Delta variant has made several countries apprehensive about opening their doors for travel. Here are some key points of the USA travel guidelines that you must note before planning your journey.

Important Notices Regarding USA Travel Guidelines

  • Only USA citizens and lawfully permanent citizens are allowed to enter the United States
  • USA citizens and Lawful Permanent Citizens travelling to the USA from these high-risk countries must undergo mandatory quarantining for 14 days upon arriving in the USA.
  • Travellers from countries like India, China, South Africa, Brazil, Iran, USA, Ireland and the European Schengen region cannot enter or transit the USA as per the United States of America Presidential Proclamation
  • Travellers from countries other than the ones mentioned above must provide either VISA or Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) visa waiver for travel or transit. Such travellers may consult the USA State Department to check which of the two documents they will require

Exceptions To Travel Restrictions

In its travel guidelines for USA during pandemic circular, the USA has also eased travel restrictions on specific groups of people, including:

  • Non-American citizen spouses of USA citizens or lawful permanent citizens
  • Unmarried children or siblings under 21 years of age of USA citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents
  • Parents or legal guardians of USA citizens or lawful permanent residents under 21 years of age
  • International students are holding a valid F-1 or M-1 visa intend to begin or continue their academic studies from August 1, 2021. Such students may enter the USA 30 days before starting their academic course)

Pre-Departure Testing

Per the Guidelines for travelling to the USA, all incoming airline passengers aged two years and older must submit a negative Covid-19 viral test report taken three days before their departure date.

Things To Consider While Taking The Pre-Departure Test

  • Travellers should take the Covid-19 viral test three days before the travel date; no test taken before that will be considered.
  • If the Covid-19 viral test result is positive or not detected, the traveller will not be allowed to board the plane.
  • All travellers must mandatorily provide the Covid-19 viral test certificate with proper validation proving their identity.

There are specific guidelines for travelling to the USA for passengers who have previously been diagnosed with covid and since recovered from the illness. Such travellers must submit documentation from a licensed healthcare professional stating that they are no longer covid positive. They must produce this certificate while boarding the flight to the USA.

Guidelines For Vaccinated And Unvaccinated Travellers

Per the travel guidelines for the USA during a pandemic, fully vaccinated travellers vaccinated with FDA authorised vaccine or any vaccine authorised vaccine for emergency use by World Health Organisations must undertake the Covid-19 viral test three to five days after entering the USA.

Unvaccinated travellers are required to take the Covid-19 viral test three to five days after entering the USA. They must also observe self-quarantine for seven days.

Travellers who have recovered from COVID within 90 days of their travel must follow the same US Travel guidelines as fully vaccinated travellers. However, such passengers are not required to take the Covid-19 viral test after entering the States unless symptomatic.

If you are travelling within the United States, the quarantine rules and regulations may differ from state to state. Make sure to check the state and local guidelines before travelling.

New Visa Issuance – Travel Guidelines for USA

USA authorities have issued a restraining order on new visa issuance. They are only considering emergency or mission-critical visa applications. They have also enforced limits on the number of visa appointments made available to prospective travellers.

It would be best if you got in touch with the USA embassy in case of emergency travel. Check with them if you qualify for economic interest, humanitarian grounds or any other exceptions as stated in the latest travel guidelines for the USA. However, note that the emergency travel criteria are strict and need to be backed by proper documentation.

If you do not meet the emergency travel criteria, The USA border control authorities will cancel your existing appointment for the non-urgent non-immigrant visa on short notice. Keep an eye on the USA embassy website as the norms for travel are subject to change from time to time.

Travelling From High-Risk Countries

As mentioned earlier, the USA has imposed travel restrictions on most high-risk countries. If you intend to travel or transit through any of these countries, you will not be permitted entry in the USA unless you have the following things:

  • A Valid visa stamp in your passport
  • A boarding letter authorising you to enter the USA.
  • If you do not have a boarding letter and still wish to enter the USA, you can opt to spend 14 days in a country that is not marked high risk by the USA before travelling

Note: You cannot transit through any countries barred by the USA unless you have a boarding letter.

USA Travel Guidelines and Mandatory Protocols

Due to the high risk of safety and security, all travellers are expected to follow the mandatory protocols of the state thoroughly. The state protocols are as follows:

  • Travellers must wear a mask, especially while using public transport
  • Travellers must practice social distancing etiquettes
  • Travellers must sanitise their hands frequently
  • Travellers must avoid visiting overcrowded and poorly ventilated places

Ensure you stay up to date with the USA Travel Guidelines before you plan your trip. With the USA changing their travel rules and enforcing restrictions on increasing or reducing Covid-19 caseload, you must have contingencies in place while planning your trip to the USA.

Keep referring to the USA State Department website for the latest travel guidelines for the USA.