On 12 May 2023, the USA lifted the last measures related to COVID-19 for international travellers. This means that you no longer require proof of vaccination or testing to enter the United States. Showing a valid passport and an ESTA USA is enough. On this page, you can read everything about the impact of COVID-19 for your trip to the USA.

You still require an ESTA

The end of 38 months of COVID-19-related measures

More than three years ago, as a reaction to the outbreak of COVID-19, former US President Donald Trump announced a travel ban. This travel ban applied to all Europeans and entered into effect the next day, on 13 March 2020. At first, this measure would only last for 30 days. However, this turned out to be a wrong estimation, as it would eventually take up to 38 months before the last measures related to COVID-19 were lifted.

COVID-19 caused strict travel restrictions in the past.On 12 May 2023, the last measures against COVID-19 in the USA were lifted

Full border closure because of COVID-19

Because of the increasing COVID-19 infection rates, travellers from the European Schengen area were banned from entering the United States early on in the pandemic. Given the good relations with the USA, this was initially met with incomprehension among European politicians. Due to COVID-19, it became impossible for most travellers from Europe to travel to the USA. As the processing of visa applications was almost completely put on hold, ESTA applications were still processed. Nevertheless, travellers with a valid ESTA or visa were also not allowed to travel from Europe to the United States. The only exceptions to the entry ban were US citizens.

Gradual border opening

Due to COVID-19, the US border remained closed to Europeans until 8 November 2021. Almost 20 months after the introduction of the entry ban, Europeans could finally travel to the USA again. Travellers were quite eager to take advantage of the border opening, and many immediately submitted visa applications for the USA. During the pandemic, part of the staff of the US immigration service was laid off. These cuts at the immigration service, combined with the high demand for visas, caused the waiting times for visas to increase. However, there was no increased delay in processing ESTA applications. Tourists and business travellers from the EU and the UK were able to obtain the required travel authorisation quickly and easily.

Despite the borders being reopened, there were some measures in place for travelling to the USA. Part of these measures to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 was a strict vaccination requirement. Due to this vaccination requirement, only fully vaccinated travellers and minors were allowed to travel to the country. Only 38 months after the first border closure for European travellers was the vaccination requirement lifted, namely on 12 May 2023.

The ESTA is a digital travel authorisation

What is an ESTA?
Travellers from a number of visa-waiver countries can use an ESTA instead of a visa for a trip to the USA. The ESTA is an electronic travel authorisation that allows travellers to travel to the USA multiple times within two years. Each stay can last up to 90 consecutive days. The ESTA can be applied for online and is granted within 3 days on average. As such, this travel authorisation is easier to obtain than a US visa.
Apply for your ESTA here

The end of COVID-19-related travel restrictions

On 12 May 2023, the last measures related to COVID-19 for travel to the USA were definitively lifted. Since then, US authorities no longer check whether inbound travellers are vaccinated against COVID-19. From this date, unvaccinated and not fully vaccinated people can also travel to the USA again. Proof of vaccination is no longer required. Since 12 June 2022, there has already been no need to show a negative test result.

What do I need to take into account?

Despite the fact that all measures related to COVID-19 have been lifted, there are still a number of general requirements in place for travel to the USA. For example, travellers need to have a valid passport, and a visa or ESTA among others. In addition, it is recommended to always check the current travel advice for the USA. Finally, it is important that you are aware that the situation regarding COVID-19 can change quickly. Local regulations may differ, so check the regulations at your destination before departure.
Apply for the ESTA for your trip to the USA now

COVID-19 restrictions during your return trip

If you are travelling back to the United Kingdom or Ireland, you also no longer need to take COVID-19 into account. For your return trip to one of these countries, there is also no longer a testing or quarantine requirement. It is also not necessary to complete a health declaration or Passenger Locator Form (PLF).

Disclaimer: this page about travel to the USA with an ESTA during COVID-19 is updated regularly to keep it as up-to-date as possible. However, due to the complexity and changeability of the situation regarding COVID-19 and related measures, this page cannot be guaranteed to be complete and up-to-date at all times, and therefore no rights can be derived from it.

e-Visa.ie is a commercial and professional visa agency, and supports travellers in obtaining, among others, the ESTA USA. e-Visa.ie acts as an intermediary and is in no way part of any government. You can also apply for an ESTA directly with the immigration service (21 USD per ESTA, via esta.cbp.dhs.gov). However, not with our level of support. If you submit your application via e-Visa.ie, our support centre is available to you 24/7. In addition, we manually check your application and all the documents you provide before submitting it to the immigration authorities on your behalf. If we suspect any errors or omissions while doing so, we will personally contact you to ensure that your application can still be processed quickly and correctly. To use our services, you pay us 21 USD in consular fees, which we pay to the immigration service on your behalf, as well as € 30,72 in service fees as compensation for our services, including VAT. Our services have saved many travellers from major problems during their trip. Should an application be rejected despite our support and verification, we will refund the full purchase price (unless an application for a previous ESTA USA was rejected for the same traveller). Read more about our services here.