US travel restrictions on air and land visitors are scheduled to be relaxed in November.
On November 8th the US will reopen its borders to fully vaccinated air travellers from 33 countries. However, they will be required to show proof of a negative Covid test taken at least 3 calendar days before flying. The new rules will apply to visitors from the UK, Brazil, China, India, Ireland, South Africa, and (surprisingly) Iran. They also include travellers from the Schengen group, which consists of 26 EU and non-EU countries:
Just as a reminder, the following EU countries are not in the Schengen group:
In addition, the US will lift travel restrictions at its land borders with Canada and Mexico for fully vaccinated foreign nationals, ending Covid related curbs on non-essential travellers in place since March 2020. Unvaccinated visitors will still be barred from entering the United States from Canada or Mexico at land borders.
This is great news for both the travel and Duty Free industries. Moreover, given the importance of the US as both a source and destination of travel, this opening will likely have a positive effect on general economic conditions and the post-Covid recovery.
The Devil Will Be in the Detail
But, as is often the case, the devil will be in the detail. Some details, like which vaccines and test documentation are acceptable are covered in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website. Most airlines, like British Airways and Swiss, will also probably have this information.
However, there are details which aren’t covered anywhere, like:
- In the absence of an internationally accepted Covid vaccination certificate or pass, what documentation will be accepted and how will it be controlled?
- Will the controls be the responsibility of the airlines at check-in, US Immigration on arrival, or both?
- Will the acceptability of documentation be consistent among the various players?
On top of that, there are some indications that you better be careful to make sure the name on your vaccination document is exactly the same as that on your ID. In Switzerland, there’ve already been several instances of vaccine certificates not being accepted if they don’t correspond exactly to the identification document.
I suspect that there will be quite a few teething problems in the early days of this policy change, so you might want to delay your travel until these are ironed out.