From 8 November, tourists and business travellers are again welcome in the United States of America. Most travellers need a vaccination certificate, a test certificate and an ESTA. On this page, you can read about all the coronavirus rules you should take into account. Last updated: 30-12-2021

The end of the travel ban in the USA

From 8 November you may once again travel to the USA with an ESTA for a holiday, business trip or transit. This marks the end of the travel ban that was introduced over a year and a half ago due to the coronavirus.

However, you should still take into account a number of important coronavirus rules. Adults who have not been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus are in most cases still not allowed to travel to the USA. Those who have been vaccinated do not have to undergo quarantine upon arrival in the US, nor when they return home. The information on this page applies to travellers with citizenship of the United Kingdom and all countries of the European Union.

Step 1 Apply for your ESTA

Before travelling to the United States, you should apply for an ESTA or a visa. An ESTA is a digital travel authorisation for tourists and business travellers, which can easily be applied for online. After it has been granted, your ESTA will be valid for two years, unless your passport expires earlier. Within this period you may travel to the USA an unlimited number of times. Each stay in the US may not exceed 90 days. You can apply for your ESTA even before you have booked your trip.
Apply for your ESTA now

Step 2 | Arranging your vaccination certificate

For a holiday, business trip or transfer in the USA, you must be fully vaccinated, and the final dose must have been given at least 2 weeks before your arrival in the United States. Children under 18 do not need to be vaccinated. You have only been fully vaccinated if you have been vaccinated twice with a coronavirus vaccine from Moderna, Pfizer / BioNTech, AstraZeneca / Covishield, Sinopharm or Sinovac, or once with the coronavirus vaccine from Janssen / Johnson & Johnson.

When boarding your flight to the US, you must prove that you have been vaccinated. People in the United Kingdom can do this easily with their NHS COVID Pass QR code. Those who prefer not to use an app can have a letter sent to them, or print out a paper vaccination certificate via Travellers of other nationalities can find out how to present a vaccination certificate here. You can also show a printout or photo of another type of vaccination certificate issued by a government authority. This must show: the name of the issuing government agency, the type of coronavirus vaccine, the date(s) of vaccination and your full name and date of birth, which are also listed on your ESTA.

Step 3 | Arranging your test certificate

Before leaving for the US, you must take a coronavirus / COVID-19 test, even if you are fully vaccinated. You can use an antigen test or a NAAT test, including a PCR, LAMP, TMA, NEAR or HDA test. Children/minors above the age of 2 must be tested as well. You must get tested at maximum one day before departure. This is counted in days, not hours, so it does not matter what time you were tested or what time your flight is. Your test certificate will remain valid even if your flight is delayed by your airline for a day.

You must show your negative test result when boarding your flight to the USA. You can do this digitally or on paper. The test result must state: what type of coronavirus test was taken, when the test was taken, which organisation took the test, what the test result was, and your full name and date of birth, which are also stated on your ESTA. Because these details are not given in the QR codes, they will not suffice as proof of testing (but will suffice as proof of vaccination).

Did you test positive for the coronavirus in the 90 days prior to departure? Then you can also travel to the United States without a coronavirus test. You must then show a letter from a health authority when boarding. This letter must state that you were infected less than 90 days ago and that you are now allowed to travel again. In addition to this, a vaccination certificate and an ESTA are necessary.

If you do get COVID-19

You may not travel to the United States if you have tested positive for the coronavirus and should still be in quarantine. You are also not allowed to travel if you have symptoms of coronavirus / COVID-19. Not even if you have an ESTA, a vaccination certificate and a test certificate. It is wise to check with your travel agent or travel insurance company in advance to see if you will be reimbursed for any damages that may occur as a result. The ESTA cost cannot be refunded if you are unable to travel due to coronavirus. However, you can then still use your ESTA for your next trip.

Returning to the UK

When returning to the UK from the United States, you must book and pay for a pre-departure COVID-19 test (to be taken in the 2 days before your return flight) and a post-arrival PCR test. You must also complete a passenger locator form in the 48 hours before your arrival. You must quarantine in your home or the place you are staying until you receive the test result. If the test result is negative, you can end your quarantine. If the test result is positive, you must self-isolate for 10 days. The day you took the test counts as day 0.

If you are not fully vaccinated, you must book and pay for an additional test (to be taken on day 8 after your arrival) and quarantine at home for 10 days.

Other coronavirus rules during your trip to the USA

Even for fully vaccinated travellers, there are still some coronavirus rules to keep in mind. Your airline will record your contact information, so you can be traced if it appears that you have been in contact with infected persons. You will be asked to undergo another voluntary coronavirus test 3 to 5 days after arriving in the United States, but this is not mandatory. You only need to wear a mask in crowded indoor areas such as hospitals, airports, aeroplanes and other public transportation.

Travelling to the USA is once again possible from 8 November.On 8 November, the US COVID-19 travel ban was lifted.

Exceptions for unvaccinated adults

Are you over 18 and unvaccinated?
Then under the current rules you may not travel to the US for a holiday, business trip or transfer. Not even if you have a valid ESTA. Exceptions are only made for diplomats, family members of US military, people who have participated in clinical coronavirus research, people with a contraindication against coronavirus vaccines, people who are travelling in the national interest of the US, and people who must travel for the safety or health of themselves or another person.

Do you want to make use of an exception?
Then you must show a document when boarding your flight to the USA which shows that an exception applies in your situation. This document must have been issued by a US government agency, such as a US embassy. In the case of a contraindication, an English-language statement from a doctor will also suffice. This must be signed by the doctor, printed on the letterhead of a health care institution and contain: your full name, date of birth, medical condition that prevents you from taking the vaccine (such as allergy) and the name, address and telephone number of the health care institution.

In addition, you must be tested for Coronavirus / COVID-19 up to one day before leaving for the US. Upon arrival, you must spend 7 days in quarantine at a location of your choice. Between 3 and 5 days after arrival, you have to be tested again. Do you have a letter from a health authority stating that you had coronavirus in the past 90 days and are now allowed to travel again? If so, you do not need to go into quarantine, and you do not need to be re-tested after arrival. You may only stay in the United States for more than 60 days if you have been vaccinated against coronavirus / COVID-19. This also applies if you have an ESTA, which normally allows you to stay in the USA for 90 days.

Can my ESTA be cancelled?

If the US immigration service suspects that a traveller is not complying with the travel ban, his or her ESTA will be cancelled. As soon as the traveller again complies with the rules, a new ESTA may be applied for. In exceptional cases, ESTAs are incorrectly cancelled (set to "cancelled" or "expired" status). This happens if the airline has not correctly informed the US immigration authorities that a resident of one of the above countries has not been there for at least 14 days. Has your ESTA been cancelled wrongfully? Contact your airline, explain that you are not covered by the travel ban, and ask the airline to report this to the RCLG.

Disclaimer: This page about travel to the USA with an ESTA during the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic is regularly updated with current information. However, due to the complexity and changeability of coronavirus rules, this page cannot be guaranteed to be complete and current at all times, and therefore no rights can be derived from it.