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Following news of the Omicron variant, the USA has tighthend up its entry rules. All inbound travellers now have to test within one day of their departure from the UK.
The USA reopened to fully vaccinated UK citizens back at the start of November. Even then, travellers had to take a Covid test, but instead they had a 72 hour window to do so.
The new mandate simply means that you must take a test closer to your flying time, and that the window for receiving your result is much tighter.
The rest of the rules remain the same. Unvaccinated children are still permitted to enter the country, and must also take a test if aged two or older.
However, unvaccinated adults are still not allowed to fly to the USA.
Fully vaccinated travellers will also need to take a pre departure covid test before returning to the UK, plus a day 2 test.
Want to find a decent airline to fly to the US with? See our flexible airline policy guide here
Do I need to be double vaccinated to travel to the USA?
Yes, unless you are under 18. The USA will only allow adults who have been double vaccinated to travel. You need to provide evidence of being fully vaccinated, which is typically 14 days after your second or final dose of the vaccine.
You are required to provide evidence of vaccination through the NHS Covid app or an NHS letter, or other accepted forms of proof in order to travel. You can check these via the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website. The USA will also accept the UK’s proof of recent recovery record.
Can unvaccinated children travel to the USA from the UK?
Yes. Children under the age of 18 are exempt from the vaccination rule. Those aged between two and 17 need to take a pre-departure test one day prior to departure.
Do you need to show a negative Covid test to enter the USA as well as proof of vaccination?
Yes. UK travellers aged 18 and over need to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test result, as well as proof of vaccination status. You will need to have taken this test no more than 24 hours before your flight to the US departs.
When choosing a test you need to read the requirements carefully. Antigen tests are acceptable, but not all DIY home tests will be permitted. If you choose a home test, it must be supervised by the test provider on a video call so that they can confirm your identity, they must watch you take the sample and then issue a report that meets CDC requirements.
Now that you have to get the test turned around within 24 hours, it would be easier to either choose an approved home antigen test (check CDC website for details) as the turnaround is quicker than a PCR test, book into a clinic, or pay for a speedy airport test.
Children do not need to show proof of vaccination.
Is the USA on the red list for England, Wales and Scotland?
No. The USA is not on the UK red list. For vaccinated travellers that means you only need to follow green list ‘rest of world’ rules, taking a day two test on your return to the UK from the USA. These rules only cover your return to the UK.
What type of Covid test must I take when I return to the UK from the USA?
The rules in the UK changed in December. Now even vaccinated arrivals must take a pre departure test before returning to the UK. You’ll also need to have booked day 2 PCR tests (lateral flows are no longer permitted), and isolate until receiving a negative result. Read further details about PCR tests and the new travel rules.
Is it safe to book a flight from the UK to the USA?
For now, the USA remains on the green ‘rest of world’ list [link], which means you could book a flight without having to quarantine in a hotel on your return. However you need to bear in mind that due to the Omicron variant, travel rules and restrictions could quickly change.
If the USA was suddenly added to the red list and you were already overseas, you’d need to swap onto an earlier flight to avoid having to pay to quarantine in a hotel. Because of this we’d recommend booking with a flexible airline.
Additionally, if Covid-19 cases start to worsen in either the UK or US, there is the possibility you won’t be able to travel.. If an airline cancels your flight you’re entitled to your money back. However, flights may not necessarily be cancelled even if cases start to worsen, meaning you’re not automatically entitled to a refund.
In this scenario, you will probably be able to rebook your flight for different dates, although if the new dates are more expensive you will have to pay the difference. That can be costly.
If you are booking, British Airways book with confidence policy and Virgin Atlantic’s flexible booking policy are generous. Both airlines allow you to not travel for any reason and hold the value of your flight as a voucher. Beware though that for BA, this is for journeys due to be completed by 31 August 2022. For Virgin, this covers journeys due to be completed by 30 April 2022. You can use the voucher to rebook new dates, or even a different destination.
As our comparison of US and UK airline flexible booking policies shows, BA and Virgin have more flexible policies than American Airlines, Delta and JetBlue.
Package holidays are a better way to protect your money. If the travel ban remains, your operator will cancel your package holiday entitling you to rebook for a new date or to receive a full refund. Many trips to Florida and Disneyland in California are offered on a package basis.
If you are planning to fly with Tui, Virgin or British Airways, you might consider booking a package holiday (accommodation and flights together) instead, with Tui Holidays, Virgin Holidays or British Airways.