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The US is one of the very few countries that require COVID-19 vaccination without the option of providing a test as an alternative (although none of this is really enforced at the land border, as you probably know). Unfortunately, it seems that all this nonsense has been extended.

The US hasn’t made an official announcement, but an amendment has just been issued to confirm the requirement’s extension, at least by air.

Here are the details.

 

Reminder of current US rules

The United States is not among the 130+ countries that have lifted all pandemic-related travel restrictions for all travelers. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended eliminating all restrictions since January 2022, because their analyses have shown that these measures have absolutely no impact.

The US requires vaccination (for adults only), but they’ve never even updated their definition of what “vaccinated” is.

And in practice, they don’t enforce their requirement for land entry in almost all cases, even though in theory, it’s for all foreign travelers everywhere.

You can read all about it in our ultimate guide on how to travel to the United States, including infographics to sum it all up.

 

Renewal of the US requirement

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the federal agency that manages transportation security in the United States, has just subtly issued an emergency amendment.

This document says that the vaccination requirement has been extended to April 10, 2023

Obviously, as always, this is just an arbitrary date. 

They could obviously extend the requirement after April 10, as they just did. Or even lift it in advance if the political science changes by then and it becomes more politically rewarding to remove the rule than to keep it. That’s the only thing that has guided all travel rules for years now, whether it’s there or here.

 

Impact of the renewed requirement

There is actually no change, at least according to this document. The current rules remain in place as is.

The renewal doesn’t change the outdated definition of “vaccinated”: it’s still 2 doses of vaccine (or 1 dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine). You must have the required number of doses for a minimum of 14 days, but there’s no maximum timeline.

So someone who got a vaccine 2 years ago without a booster dose can enter the USA, but someone who had COVID-19 a month ago and is immunized cannot enter. And it’s those who criticize that who are wrong according to some “experts” who suffer from covidanxiety and won’t get over this before 2025, if ever.

 

Entry by air vs. entry by land 

This document says that it applies only to air entry, because of a technicality. 

This is because the presidential proclamation requiring vaccination for entry into the US is formalized in separate rules for air and land:

  • TSA is in charge of the air component
  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is in charge of the land component

As mentioned, thousands of unvaccinated Canadians already enter the US by land anyway.

But it seems the requirement still officially applies for entry by land too, according to the official CBP website.

The requirement still officially applies by land (image credit: CBP)

 

It would’ve been surprising for them to officially lift the requirement just by land. That wouldn’t make much sense… but of course, there’s nothing very logical about any of this, so we never know! We’ll keep following this.

 

The “logic” behind this renewal

Let’s remember that:

  • President Biden declared in September that the pandemic was over (a true “conspiracy theorist”)
  • The US federal public health agency, the CDC, has stated in August what “conspiracy theorists” have been saying for a long time: having recommendations based on vaccination status makes no sense
  • The experts are clear: considering 2 doses received more than a year ago as being up-to-date in terms of vaccination is absolutely antiscientific and absurd

The worst part about this isn’t that the US says it’s following the science. The worst part is that there are naive people out there who still really believe that.

 

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Summary

According to an emergency amendment issued by the TSA, the US is extending its vaccination requirement for entry by air until April 10, 2023. This will likely be the same for entry by land, although it seems like it’s almost never applied by land in reality.

What would you like to know about the vaccination requirement in the US? Tell us in the comments below.

 

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Featured image: Abiquiu, US (photo credit: Joonyeop Baek)

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Andrew D'Amours

Andrew is the co-founder of Flytrippers. He is passionate about traveling the world but also, as a former management consultant, about the travel industry itself. He shares his experiences to help you save money on travel. As a very cost-conscious traveler, he loves finding deals and getting free travel thanks to travel rewards points... to help him visit every country in the world (current count: 64/193 Countries, 47/50 US States & 9/10 Canadian Provinces).

This Post Has 43 Comments

  1. Edu Braga

    Hi Andrew! Many thanks for the updates and thorough post!

    My wife and I are traveling to Brazil, and just heard about this ridiculous vaccinate mandate extension. We are not vaxxed, and sadly there is a connection flight in Houston (4 hours layover). At this point, we would like to confirm if the fully vaccinated restriction also applies for in-transit passengers, which we think is the case. What are your thoughts about this? Should we cancel our flight and look for a direct flight (Canada-Brazil)? Plz let us know. Thanks!

    Here are the two CDC pages we went trough:
    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/international-travel-during-covid19.html
    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/proof-of-vaccination.html

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Yes unfortunately, sterile international transits do not exist in the US, so even when you just have a layover, you have to enter the country and then you exit it right away, so the vaccination requirements applies.

  2. Greg

    Hi thanks for the information do you know if they automatically check this covid vaccination requirement at the border when travelling by plane? As I potentially need to travel from Europe (Amsterdam) and obviously I don’t want to do this if there’s a risk to not enter crazy we can’t just show a test worse case also if we take a negative test that comes with a QR code that is valid a few days do they really check the vaccination status from your perspective ?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi,
      The airline usually does check the proof of vaccination before boarding. To be fair, in recent weeks, it seems it is no longer as systematic and guaranteed as it sure was for most of the past years, but it definitely is a big risk. If you don’t check a bag and check-in online you might avoid it (I’ll have a post about a few recent experiences soon), but there’s no guarantee at all and it is still way more likely that they ask, unfortunately.
      You can’t show a test, the rule is they require vaccination, not a test.

  3. Yulia

    We (Canadians) were turned away at the land border without shots, at the Ambassador Bridge. Just FYI.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, thanks for the testimonial. It sure does happen, unfortunately you were one of the unlucky who were asked about vaccination status and didn’t lie (or asked about status and lied and were one of the unlucky who were asked for proof). It’s definitely not 100% as we said, hopefully they remove this soon.

  4. Karpati Gabor

    Hello! I am unable to enter the US from Europe, even though I was invited several times to deliver lectures in Boston, New York, and D.C, one invitation I had from MIT too. I couldn’t even perticipate at the screening of my own film, which is just nonsense.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, there is no rational explanation. I hope it ends soon so you can go!

  5. Steve

    Hi Andrew, am I correct in stating that Canadians under the age of 18 can visit the US without proof of Covid-19 vaccination? CDC exemptions seem to read that way. An expensive Florida trip is hinging on this…

    Regards,

    Steve

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, yes the requirement only applies to adults. We have all the details in our guide to USA travel rules, including a section with a bullet point list of the rules based on age/vaccination status 🙂

  6. Lulu

    Hi Andrew D’Amours, I am an Indian and I’m waiting it out as you said for almost 2 years now. what is my best land port entry option. Your help much appreciated.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, there really is no way to predict which port of entry is most likely to work unfortunately :S

  7. Carolyn

    How refreshing to see an article about entry into the U.S. by someone who actually gets how NONE of this makes sense.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      I would dare to say that anyone with half a brain gets that it doesn’t make sense (how can it make sense with an outdated definition of vaccinated like that), but it seems that the pandemic has killed many people’s ability to criticize governments entirely…

  8. Joe Cyber

    Bonjour, c est vraiment incroyable, aucune logique possible dans cette décision. Des irresponsables decident de nos gestes et aucune raisons valables, sinon des interdictions infondées.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      En effet. En passant, toutes nos pages sont disponibles en français en utilisant l’option dans le menu du haut.

  9. Ron

    Hey Andrew,
    I’m trying to wrap my head around this and understand if I am considered an excluded person or not. Here are the details – I’m a Canadian citizen living in Israel (my children are Canadian citizens, my wife isn’t), and I’m interested in a relocation position in a global firm reflecting some sort of working Visa. According to this status, am I consider “excluded” or not for the Vaccination requirement? I’ve been reading on the CDC website to try and understand this but its too confusing.
    Thanks

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, I’ve only looked closely at the rules for travelers since that’s what most of our audience cares about, but I know the rule does have exceptions, depending on how your working visa is considered.
      These are the people who the rules apply to, as listed on the US website.

      Hope this helps.

  10. Chris

    Thank you for very objective and wise article! If you would predict today, just for fun sake, you think they will extend this requirement on 10 of April or finally invalidate? Cheers

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      I don’t think they will extend, but then again I didn’t think they’d extend it last week either. As I said months ago, it’s almost impossible to predict when there’s literally no rational reasoning behind measures, when they simply do not make any sense at all like the US requirement :S
      So we’ll see, unfortunately no one knows. Even Biden probably doesn’t. And to be clear, I’m not commenting on his cognitive state, I just mean he will base the decision on the political science in effect in 3 months, he still doesn’t know right now either.

  11. John Smith

    My family and I live in Florida and were considering a trip to Europe in late April. Only my wife has been vaccinated, since none of us trust this experimental “vaccine.” When it came time to return to the U.S., would those of us in our family who haven’t been vaccinated be denied entry when we fly back? I’m fuzzy on the details about that.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      The requirement only applies to foreigners, so it depends on your status in the US.

      1. Angela

        You have mentioned that Canadians are very seldom asked for the vaccination status at the land border. It is the same for Australians and Irish passport holders or do they tend to be treated differently at the Canadian border if entering USA from Canada (than Canadian citizens).

      2. Andrew D'Amours

        Good question, we don’t have any testimonials from non-Canadians since our audience is here in Canada, but I would assume it doesn’t really make a difference. Just a hypothesis but I feel if that agent is going to ask, he’s going to ask no matter where the traveler is from. That said, regular entry rules are different for some nationalities (while Canadians don’t need a visa or ESTA or anything) so that process might ask about the vaccine, I’m not sure unfortunately.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, yeah at this point that doesn’t guarantee anything but we’ll definitely keep watching and let you all know whenever something changes, if something does ever change.

      1. isabelle

        Hi, I’m French and I have a flight booked for a group of students on April 11… I had lost hope to go with them but now I feel there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Since this bill was introduced on Jan 12, do you have any idea how long it may take to know if it’s passed? I’ll pray and pray! Thanks for the article.

      2. Andrew D'Amours

        Hi, it’s not a bill it’s already in effect and will be until the president decides to reverse it. So in theory there’s a chance you’d be okay on April 11, but unfortunately there’s also a chance you would know only just a few days before :S
        Could be worth risking it depending on the cancelation fee for your ticket!
        (En passant, toutes nos pages sont disponibles en français en changeant la langue dans le menu principal si tu préfères)

  12. Lynne Mahan

    An unvaccinated Canadian citizen working under an American green card wanting to come home to Canada for a visit- what are the re entry rules to get back to the US?

    1. Jason Voorhees

      If you’re a Canadian who is unvaxxed and working in the USA, my advice to you would be to stay put until they lift the ban on unvaxxed foreigners. If you come home right now then you’re not going to get back into the USA, not with that ban in effect. Not unless you drive in and get lucky that way.

  13. Leah Sinclaire

    As a Canadian who will never take the jab, who is used to traveling to the US to see family members and flying to Costa Rica to vacation on our property it is beyond infuriinfuriating that this nonsense is still going on! Who do we raise this issue with to get something done about it? Politicians? Who? These senseless rules and restrictions are ruining peoples lives. While all around us now people of all ages that HAVE been jabbed are dropping dead. Why is this tragedy not front page news?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      The pressure would really have to come from Americans, not foreigners, because clearly, the political science behind the vaccination requirement is one that Biden believes helps him politically somehow. Not much to do other than wait it out, unfortunately. Or try entering by land as many have been doing, of course.
      As for Costa Rica, there are direct flights or flights via Panama or Mexico as options.

  14. Kris

    So if my fiance were to travel through a land port of entry through canada there is a pretty low chance of her being demanded to show proof? What would happen if she were asked and didn’t have proof of vaccination?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Yes, pretty low chance based on all the many testimonials we’ve received. And if they ask if she’s vaccinated, they might not ask for proof. But if they do ask for proof, she will definitely be denied entry if she doesn’t have it. But the few who experienced that and told us said there was no punishment or anything, they were just turned back.

  15. GA

    Since you mentioned that the US vaccination requirement is not being enforced on land crossings, just wanted to bring up that myself and my wife were turned back at the Windsor/Detroit bridge crossing just yesterday because we are not vaccinated. To add insult to injury we felt treated like criminals because they insisted they had to perform a full search of our car and phones without allowing us to be present during the inspection! Sorry to say, but the US is no longer a free country that respects human rights and dignity.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Yes it certainly can happen, it just doesn’t seem to happen often. You were unfortunately among the unlucky :S

  16. AC

    Thank you for covering this story and for providing some extra information and context on the ongoing border closure. As an American with family in Canada, it has been beyond maddening to see this senseless policy continued month after month and for this issue to get so little attention from our political representatives and the media.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Yeah, zero logic and pretty antiscience to keep requiring a not-up-to-date vaccination status, but those who kept crying about following the science suddenly don’t care that much, as long as it punishes the unvaccinated. Very sad.

  17. Jamar miller

    my Japanese wife cant enter cause she has not been vaxed ( nor have I but Im a US citizen and can enter. Makes no sense at all, I can sleep with my wife every night in the same bed and enter the USA with no requirements ( no vaccine, no mask, no pcr test ) but she ( same condition as I ) cannot enter the USA. Totally feel abandoned by my country and God right now . If Trump did this, they would indeed call him rasist Xenophobe ect ect. but Biden does it, its okay. So , It’s been over 3 years now that I and my kids have been unable to enter the USA with my wife / their mother . Looks like it may get to four years too .

  18. Lisa Robinson

    That is infuriating and SO absurd. As an American with unvaxxed family in Canada, since they’ve all had and recovered from Covid, I haven’t had them visit for ages. The funny thing is when I tell fellow Americans about this, they have no idea this entry requirement exists, and you never hear this nonsense mentioned on the news. Ugh.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Yeah, exactly, the fact that it doesn’t apply to Americans is why most Americans (or at least many Americans) don’t even know this nonsensical policy is still in place sadly.

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