Fully vaccinated travellers from the EU and the UK can travel to the United States again from November. This brings an end to the US travel ban, and European travellers can once again travel to the USA with an ESTA or visa.
Take note: this article is several weeks old. Read more about the current coronavirus rules for your upcoming trip to the United States of America.The current coronavirus rules for travelling to the USA
Entry requirements USA
European travellers who want to travel to the USA from November must meet the following requirements to enter the country:
- You must be fully vaccinated. All vaccines used in the EU and the UK are likely to be sufficient.
- A negative PCR test result taken a maximum of three days before departure. For returning US travellers, maximum of 1 day before departure.
- A valid ESTA or US visa.
The new rules do not apply to travellers entering the USA by land, so via the land borders of Canada and Mexico. The US government is expected to provide more details for incoming European travellers in the coming days. For example, AstraZeneca, a vaccine approved in Europe, is not used in the United States. This could mean that travellers who are fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca will still not be allowed to enter the USA. There may also be exceptions to the vaccination requirement, such as for children who are not eligible for a vaccination yet.
Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 coordinator, also announced that the government is working on a new coronavirus healthcare system for international travel. This system should make it easier to collect health information from travellers, for example for contact tracing.
Growing criticism of travel ban
Criticism of the US travel ban on European travellers has grown in recent months. This ban means that travellers who have been in one of the Schengen countries or the United Kingdom during the 14 days prior to their trip to the United States are not allowed to enter the USA. The US travel ban was introduced a year and a half ago following the global outbreak of coronavirus, and is still in force today. The Biden administration has now announced that the travel ban will be lifted in November.
This decision comes after considerable international pressure. The vice-president of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, cancelled his trip to the United States to protest against the "unfair" travel ban. There is also domestic criticism of the governmentʼs policy. Airlines from America and travel organisations have been asking for months for the travel ban to be relaxed. Compared to 2019, there was 61% less air traffic to the United States this summer.
Mondayʼs announcement comes after the peak of the summer season, but the demand for holiday travel is expected to increase sharply by the end of the year.
ESTA application for the USA
In addition to the health measures concerning COVID-19, travellers to the United States must also comply with the US visa rules. Without a visa, they will not be able to enter the United States, even if they are fully vaccinated and have a negative test result.
However, travellers from the UK and EU do not need to apply for a visa for their trip to the United States. They can submit an ESTA application instead. The ESTA is cheaper than the US visa and much easier to apply for. Instead of going to the embassy, all you have to do is fill out an online form to submit an ESTA application. After payment has been made, the ESTA is approved within 3 days on average. From that moment onwards, it is possible to travel to the United States. The ESTA is electronically linked to your passport, meaning no paper document needs to be printed out.
An ESTA is valid for two years. This means that it is already possible to apply for an ESTA for travel to the USA after the travel ban is lifted in November.