When will US borders open to UK? When America will lift US-UK travel ban and current travel rules, explained
Following the UK Government’s overhaul of its controversial traffic light travel system, the United States has also announced a key change to its own travel rules.
From Monday October 8, there are new rules in place for travellers entering the United States, making it much easier to visit the country.
Here’s when US border restrictions on UK travellers are set to lift – and what new American international travel rules will look like.
How long has the US travel ban been in place?
The US travel ban was brought in by former US President Donald Trump on March 14 2020 as the pandemic took hold in worldwide.
Despite Mr Trump’s departure from the presidential office at the start of 2021, President Joe Biden ruled that the ban first enforced by Mr Trump would remain in place when he first took his seat in the White House.
The ban had been reviewed several times since, but remained in place, with President Biden stating that to allow people from these countries and the 26 Schengen countries to enter the country at that point would “be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”
What are the current rules for travel between the US and the UK?
Currently, the US travel ban means that British nationals attempting to enter the country from the United Kingdom, as well as European citizens from a number of Schengen countries, would be barred from entry.
Current travel guidance from the UK Foreign Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) states: “It is not possible for most British nationals to enter the USA if they have been in the UK, Ireland, Schengen zone, Iran, Brazil, China, South Africa or India within the previous 14 days.”
Individuals who have a visa or are US residents are exempt from the country’s closed border rules, which are set to change over the next month.
"Those arriving from outside the above areas will need to get a visa or an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) visa waiver to enter or transit the USA as a visitor,” says the FCDO.
Anyone who is able to travel to the US under the above circumstances must currently get a Covid test within 72 hours of their flight departing for the US and provide a negative result or proof of having recovered from the virus before boarding their flight.
Travellers who are fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the US Food and Drug Administration should take a Covid test between three and five days after travel – with those who are not fully vaccinated required to take a test and self-isolate for seven days upon arriving in the US.
The above rules are now due to change, however, following an announcement from the US Government on 20 September 2021.
When will the US lift travel ban from the UK?
On 20 September, the Biden administration announced the most recent change to their border rules, allowing visitors from all over the world to enter freely for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.
The new UK travel rules from the US Government will mean that anyone with proof of vaccination and a negative test from within 72 hours can travel to the country from 33 select countries across the globe, including the UK, China, India and Brazil.
“This new system allows us to implement strict protocols to prevent the spread of Covid from passengers flying internationally to the United States,” said Jeff Zients, head of President Biden’s Covid-19 task force on 20 September of the changes to the US international travel rules.
“Requiring foreign nationals travelling to the United States be fully vaccinated is based on public health.
“This is based on individuals rather than a country-based approach.”
This guidance is set to come into effect on 8 November, following confirmation of the US-UK travel ban easing on Friday 15 October.
What else do I need to know about travelling from UK to the US?
Passengers entering the United States after international restrictions are eased will be required to wear a mask while travelling, as well as share their telephone number and email address for contact tracing purposes.
The US is currently on the UK’s new, simplified green list for travel, meaning that fully-vaccinated people planning to travel from the US will no longer need a pre-departure test in order to fly home.
On top of that, double-jabbed travellers can replace the day two PCR test with a lateral flow test within a few weeks of arriving home as well.
The latest messaging from the FCDO does not currently advise against travel to the 50 states making up the US, or its territories like the US Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Samoa or Puerto Rico.
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