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According to the International Air Transport Association, 73% of people who have traveled since June 2020 have found it difficult to understand what COVID-related travel rules applied for their trips.
There’s no doubt that traveling internationally during the COVID-19 era adds an extra layer of complexity and trip research. You not only need to check entry requirements for the country you’re visiting, but guidelines for returning to the U.S., too. Depending on your destination and vaccination status, you may or may not have to quarantine, provide a negative COVID test ahead of departure and/or take that same COVID test post-arrival.
Navigating the sea of information can be tricky. If you're hoping to do some international traveling, don’t despair. You still have options, and we’ll teach you how to find where you can travel right now. Generally, you will have more options if you can prove your COVID-19 vaccination status.
Visit country-specific U.S. embassy sites
Step 1: Find the country’s COVID hub page
The easiest way to find entry requirements for the country you’d like to visit is to head over to the COVID-19 hub page on that country’s U.S. embassy website. To get started, go to Google and type in “COVID US embassy + name of country.”
Let’s use France for our example.
The first search result is usually the one that will contain the information. As you can see by the URL, it's a usembassy.gov page, which means it's a U.S. government site.
Step 2: Look at the entry and exit requirements
When you’re on the COVID page, check to see that it’s been updated fairly recently.
If you come across a country and that last updated date is fairly old, don't despair. The information displayed within may still be new. The COVID-19 webpage on each embassy's website may feel overwhelming to read, given the extent of information.
Scroll to the section titled “Entry and Exit Requirements,” or better yet, hold down the Control (or Command) key and the F key simultaneously to launch the Find function. Enter “entry and exit” and you’ll immediately drop down to the relevant section
Using France as an example, this is what that section looks like:
Again, you’ll want to focus on the section pertaining to U.S. citizens because the rules differ depending on which passport you have. For France specifically, U.S. citizens who are fully vaccinated do not need a COVID test. If you’re unvaccinated, the requirements differ.
Step 3: Check quarantine information and movement restrictions
Two other important sections on this page to read are titled “Quarantine Information” and “Movement Restrictions.” The former section will advise if quarantine is mandated, while the latter will discuss if a curfew is in place. Let’s check this information on France’s page.
For France, If you’re fully vaccinated, you won’t have to quarantine. If you’re unvaccinated, you’ll need to check the Entry and Exit Requirements section for further details.
There are also no restrictions on movement and there is no curfew in place in France.
Embassy page not updated? Check local tourism websites
Although most countries do a pretty good job of keeping their U.S. Embassy COVID pages up to date, you may come across a page that hasn’t been updated in a while, or that may redirect you to the country’s local government website. Maybe your chosen destination doesn’t have a U.S. Embassy at all.
In this case, check the country’s tourism board or government website, and specifically look for the section that refers to entry requirements. Tourism boards are pretty good at listing out the COVID rules and usually have an English version.
Some government websites may not have an English version or the entry requirements may be buried and difficult to find. If there’s no English page, use a browser like Chrome, which will allow you to translate the whole page into English. For government websites with hard to find information, look for a search bar where you can type in your question. If all else fails, try Twitter because the country may have an active social media presence.
State Department and the CDC
The U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regularly update travel advisories for the majority of countries worldwide during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Both of these sites provide health and safety recommendations that can be taken into consideration before making travel plans abroad.
To see the latest travel advisory, head over to the State Department website and enter the country you plan to travel to in the “Learn about your destination” field. Separately, look for further information on the CDC website, which features an interactive map that shows the latest COVID-19 risk assessment levels.
Reentry to the U.S.
Note: Certain regulations mentioned below, including the CDC's requirement of a negative COVID-19 test to enter the U.S., have changed since publication. Check the CDC's news page for the most up-to-date information.
You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with U.S. reentry conditions before booking. In addition to the federal government’s requirements, the state you live in may have further mandates.
The State Department and CDC websites both publish travel conditions for air passengers returning to the U.S. To find travel guidelines specific to your state, search for “entry requirements [name of U.S. state]” in your preferred search engine. You will then see your state’s government website, which will include any additional restrictions.
For example, when searching “entry requirements New York state,” the first search result is the state’s website: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory/.
If a COVID test is required, ask your hotel to recommend a testing center. Some hotels are offering on-site COVID tests to guests before they fly back to the U.S.
Purchase travel insurance
Even if you plan everything perfectly, traveling during the pandemic carries a lot of uncertainty. If you decide to go abroad, we strongly recommend considering travel insurance.
According to insurance comparison site Squaremouth, travel insurance purchases in January 2022 have increased by 181% over the January 2019 year due to increased awareness around travel insurance and consumers’ desire to protect their trips. Furthermore, about 40% of purchasers have specifically selected COVID coverage in their policies.
However, before purchasing a policy, check if your credit card offers free travel insurance. Many credit cards offer this perk; look at the fine print for your individual card to see what coverage you already have.
» Learn more: Will my travel insurance cover Coronavirus?
If you’re going abroad, be prepared
Traveling these days isn’t as simple as it used to be. However, you can still learn where U.S. citizens can travel right now with a quick internet search. If you check the relevant government websites mentioned above before you travel internationally and purchase travel insurance, you’ll be prepared for your trip.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card