Here's What the U.S.'s New International Travel Rules Mean for You

Heads-up: American and international travelers should check out the changes ASAP.

International travelers who are fully vaccinated will be able to travel to the United States for non-essential reasons starting on November 8, the CDC announced on Monday. The Biden Administration has released new guidelines for international travel, and a presidential proclamation to implement them. The changes are meant to make traveling a bit safer for everyone, but is a bit different from the guidelines you may have grown accustomed to during the pandemic.

"These are strict safety protocols that follow the science and public health to enhance the safety of Americans here at home and the safety of international air travel," said a senior Biden Administration in a press briefing.

Here’s what you need to know about international travel, whether you live in the US or are visiting from abroad.

What the rules mean for American travelers

Both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers from the US traveling back to the country will be required to receive a COVID-19 test before re-entering. For travelers who can show proof of being fully vaccinated, you’ll be able to get a test within three days of your departure. For travelers who cannot show proof of vaccination, you’ll have to be tested within a day of your departure.

What the rules mean for international travelers

All international travelers will be required to provide proof of vaccination in order to board planes headed for the US. The vaccinations must be approved by the FDA and meet the CDC's definition for being fully vaccinated. Airlines will be tasked with making sure that proof of vaccination was issued by an official source where the vaccine was administered.

There are very limited vaccine exceptions for international travelers. Certain medical conditions, travel for emergency or humanitarian reasons, and a few other very specific issues can exempt a traveler from the vaccine requirement.

What the rules means for everyone

Children under the age of 18 won’t be required to be vaccinated, as the US government is aware that availability to children varies widely and has not been approved in as many places. Children between the ages of 2 and 17 will have to take a test before departure as well. The timeframe of the test will correspond with the adults they are traveling with. So, if the child is traveling with fully vaccinated adults, they can get a COVID-19 test within three days of departure. If they are traveling with unvaccinated adults or traveling alone, they will have to test within one day of departure.

All travelers will be required to provide the airlines with basic contact information. The Biden Administration’s plan will also implement a more stringent contact tracing process so that anyone who came in contact with someone with COVID-19 could take the proper health precautions.

You can find out more information about the CDC’s travel recommendations, and get expert recommendations for traveling in the COVID era.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter@opheligarcia and Instagram@opheligarcia.