Need a holiday? US green to go

Mitchelle D'Souza
Filed on July 6, 2021

Learn about the Covid-19 travel requirements for the US, and how the country has conducted a mass inoculation campaign

The travel bans dictated by the Covid-19 pandemic around the world have created much flux and uncertainty. With the United States fully vaccinating over 47 per cent of its population, many intending travellers can now travel to the country. The successful Covid-19 vaccination campaign in the US is an ongoing mass immunisation campaign against the pandemic plaguing the world. With the the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granting emergency use authorisation for the Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine last year, mass vaccinations began on December 14, 2020. The Moderna Covid-19 vaccine was granted emergency use authorisation on December 17, 2020, and the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine was granted emergency use authorisation on February 27, 2021. With a clutch of vaccines proven to be effective against the virus, the US was able to alleviate the dangers posed by Covid-19 that has been rampaging across the world.

Travel requirements

If you plan to travel to the US from the UAE, you will need to get tested no more than three days before you travel by air and show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight, or be prepared to show documentation of recovery (proof of a recent positive viral test and a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel). This requirement applies to all air passengers, two years of age or older, travelling into the US, including US citizens and legal permanent residents.

As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), passengers flying into the US must undergo a viral test that could be either an antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT). Examples of available NAATs for SARS-CoV-2 include but are not restricted to reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP), transcription-mediated amplification (TMA), nicking enzyme amplification reaction (NEAR), and helicase-dependent amplification (HDA).

The test used must be authorised for use by the relevant national authority for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in the country where the test is administered. A viral test conducted for U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) personnel, including DOD contractors, dependents, and other US government employees, and tested by a DOD laboratory located in a foreign country also meets the requirements of the order.

Open to UAE residents

The good news is that residents and citizens from the UAE are allowed to freely travel to the US provided they follow the necessary protocols. Dubai and Abu Dhabi governments have been issuing tourist visas. US citizens may receive a tourist visa on arrival, typically valid for 30 days. For additional information, one can consult the UAE Embassy in the US.

In an effort to help slow the spread of Covid-19, the US government has temporarily suspended entry for certain travellers into the US, including China, Iran, the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland), the Republic of Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, European Schengen Region and India.

All travellers from the UAE shall be required to comply with recommended CDC guidelines and wear masks in airports, commercial aircraft, trains, public maritime vessels, intercity bus services, and other modes of public transportation. Travellers shall also be required to comply with recommended CDC guidelines regarding periods of self-quarantine or self-isolation. For more information, one can visit the CDC travel resources page.

Many states and cities have issued guidelines based on specific, community needs. Travellers planning to visit the USA should consult the official state and local government resources.

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