Requirements for Air Travelers to the United States

Updated December 3, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Requirements for Travel to the United States

VACCINATION REQUIREMENT: Effective November 8, 2021, all non-U.S. citizen air travelers to the United States are required to be fully vaccinated from COVID-19 and to provide proof of vaccination status prior to boarding an airplane to the United States. See the NIV/ESTA information below for details.

The new travel policy rescinds the previous Schengen Travel restrictions. The National Interest Program (NIE) has ended — NIEs are no longer required to travel, and all previously issued NIEs are now invalid.

TESTING REQUIREMENT: Effective December 6, ALL travelers to the United States ages 2 and up – regardless of citizenship or vaccination status – must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test (antigen rapid or PCR) taken within ONE CALENDAR DAY of departure, or proof of recent recovery. Please review the CDC webpage for details.  The 1-day period is 1 calendar day before the flight’s scheduled departure time. For example: if you obtain a negative COVID test at 9 a.m. on Monday, you can fly up to 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday night.

Information for U.S. Citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents, and Immigrant Visa holders

Effective Monday, December 6, ALL travelers to the United States — including U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs, aka “Green Card” holders) — must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test (antigen rapid or PCR) taken within ONE CALENDAR DAY of departure, or proof of recent recovery. Please review the CDC webpage and White House page for details.

Airline staff will verify your negative COVID test result at check-in. Your negative COVID test result can be either a paper record or via a digital app. The documents must be issued by an official source and include the traveler’s full name plus at least one other identifier such as date of birth or passport number.

If you have questions about whether your documentation is acceptable, please contact your airline. The U.S. Embassy cannot intervene in the decisions of airline staff or immigration officials, nor can we give you permission to board.

Please click here to see CDC’s website for information on international travel to the United States for U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) or immigrant visa holders.

Information for Non-Immigrant Visa or ESTA holders

All non-US citizen adults (18 and up) traveling to the United States on a Non-Immigrant Visa (NIV) or ESTA (Visa Waiver Program) are required to be fully vaccinated* against COVID-19 AND provide proof of a negative COVID test taken within 1 calendar day prior to boarding a flight to the United States, even if you are just transiting to another country.

Airlines will verify your vaccination status* and negative COVID test result (PCR or “AntigenSchnell” antigen rapid test accepted).

Click here for information on accepted COVID-19 vaccines and acceptable proof.

Your proof of full vaccination* and negative COVID test result may be either a paper record or via a digital app. The documents must be issued from an official source and include the traveler’s full name plus at least one other identifier such as date of birth or passport, the vaccine product and date(s) of vaccination.

*Note: You are considered fully vaccinated:

  • 2 weeks (14 days) after your dose of an accepted single-dose vaccine; or
  • 2 weeks (14 days) after your second dose of an accepted 2-dose series; or
  • 2 weeks (14 days) after you received the full series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine (not placebo) in a clinical trial; or
  • 2 weeks (14 days) after you received the full series of a Novavax (or Covovax) COVID-19 vaccine (not placebo) in a phase 3 clinical trial; or
  • 2 weeks (14 days) after you received 2 doses of any “mix-and-match” combination of accepted COVID-19 vaccines administered at least 17 days apart*

If you don’t meet these requirements, you are NOT considered fully vaccinated.

Click here for information on accepted COVID-19 vaccines and acceptable proof.

Exceptions

Exceptions to the vaccination requirement are very limited, including:

  • Children under 18
  • People medically unable to receive a vaccine
  • Emergency travelers who do not have timely access to a vaccine

There are NO family-based exceptions for foreign spouses or adult children of U.S. citizens.

There are NO exceptions on religious or moral convictions.

A detailed list of exceptions can be found on the CDC website, Requirement for Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination for Air Travelers.

How to Request an Exception to Vaccine Requirements

Visit the CDC website, scroll down to “Exceptions,” and click on “Do I qualify for an exception or can I apply for an exception to the vaccine requirement?” Review the categories carefully.

For all categories EXCEPT “Humanitarian or Emergency Exception,” you must request an exception from airline staff upon check-in.  Go directly to the airport at least three hours early, and bring all supporting documentation such as medical records documenting medical contraindications to being vaccinated, etc. Please note: The U.S. Embassy has NO AUTHORITY to intervene in or override the decisions of airline personnel or immigration officials.

If you are requesting an exception under the “Humanitarian or Emergency Exception” category, follow these steps:

  1. Go to this CDC website, scroll down and click on, “How do I apply for a humanitarian or emergency exception to the requirement for noncitizen nonimmigrants to show a pre-departure proof of COVID-19 Vaccination?” Collect all the requested information and supporting documentation.
  2. Send an email to ConsulateVienna@state.gov with the subject line, “CDC EXCEPTION REQUEST mm-dd-yyyy,” with your planned travel date. Your email must be in English and contain ALL the information requested on the CDC website. INCOMPLETE REQUESTS WILL NOT BE PROCESSED!
  3. U.S. Embassy Vienna will forward your request to the CDC for consideration.  We will forward the CDC decision to you by email.

NOTE: U.S. Embassies and Consulates have no role in the decision process. We cannot answer any questions about your qualifications for an exception, or provide estimated timelines for responses, nor can we intervene in the decisions of CDC officials.

Additional Information and Resources

The CDC recommends that you do not travel internationally until you are fully vaccinated. International travel poses additional risks, and even fully vaccinated travelers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some COVID-19 variants. Delay travel and stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

If you do travel, follow all CDC recommendations before, during, and after travel.

Before traveling, ensure you have adequate health and travel insurance, to include air medical evacuation (medevac) coverage. Most health insurance policies and U.S. Medicare/Medicaid do not provide coverage abroad. U.S. Embassies and Consulates do not provide medical care, lodging, or financial assistance if you must quarantine or require hospitalization.

Travel policy sources: