White House sets Nov. 8 to open US to vaccinated travelers

Proof of vaccination and negative COVID-19 test required

Jeff Zients, President Joe Biden's COVID-19 coordinator, said last month the restrictions would be lifted for those fully vaccinated. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Jeff Zients, President Joe Biden's COVID-19 coordinator, said last month the restrictions would be lifted for those fully vaccinated. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Posted October 15, 2021 at 12:03pm

The White House on Friday set Nov. 8 for the anticipated lifting of restrictions on overseas travelers coming into the United States, saying it expects foreign nationals fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can enter the country by air, and at Canada and Mexico land borders starting on that date.

"Fully vaccinated travelers will continue to be required to show a pre-departure negative test taken within three days of travel prior to boarding," a White House official said, referring to air travel. The official added the move will put "in place a global international travel policy that is guided by public health, stringent, and consistent.”

The announcement follows one Tuesday setting a path for fully vaccinated travelers to enter the U.S. via land and ferry ports, as well as one made Sept. 20 applying to international air travel.

The Nov. 8 opening was first reported by Reuters. When implemented, it will require foreign nationals to show proof of vaccination before boarding a plane destined for the U.S., Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 coordinator, said last month. 

In November, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will also begin allowing fully vaccinated travelers from Mexico and Canada to enter the U.S. at land and ferry ports of entry. 

Travelers will be required to have paperwork that provides proof of vaccination. Unvaccinated visitors will be barred from entering the U.S. from Canada or Mexico at land borders. But for air travel, some exceptions to the vaccination requirement will be made if travelers show pre-departure negative COVID-19 tests, according to the White House. 

The shift follows more than a year of travel restrictions necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic that wreaked havoc on the travel industry. 

President Donald Trump had restricted travel for foreign nationals from 33 countries, including the United Kingdom, China, Brazil and Europe, and that restriction was unchanged when President Joe Biden took office. But on Sept. 20, the Biden administration reversed those restrictions, clearing the way for foreign nationals from those countries to come to the U.S. if they were vaccinated.

U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow praised the announcement. “Reopening to international visitors will provide a jolt to the economy and accelerate the return of travel-related jobs that were lost due to travel restrictions,” he said.

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.