According to the International Air Transport Association, 73% of people who have traveled since June 2020 have found it difficult to understand what COVID-related travel rules applied for their trips.
There’s no doubt that traveling internationally during the COVID-19 era adds an extra layer of complexity and trip research. You not only need to check entry requirements for the country you’re visiting, but guidelines for returning to the U.S., too. Depending on your destination and vaccination status, you may or may not have to quarantine, provide a negative COVID test ahead of departure and/or take that same COVID test post-arrival.
Navigating the sea of information can be tricky. Here are three ways to stay up to date on foreign travel restrictions so that your trip can go as smoothly as possible.
State Department and the CDC
The U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regularly update travel advisories for the majority of countries worldwide during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Both of these sites provide health and safety recommendations that can be taken into consideration before making travel plans abroad.
To see the latest travel advisory, head over to the State Department website and enter the country you plan to travel to in the “Learn about your destination” field. Separately, look for further information on the CDC website, which features an interactive map that shows the latest COVID-19 risk assessment levels.
Reentry to the U.S.
You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with U.S. reentry conditions before booking. In addition to the federal government’s requirements, the state you live in may have further mandates.
The State Department and CDC websites both publish travel conditions for air passengers returning to the U.S. To find travel guidelines specific to your state, search for “entry requirements [name of U.S. state]” in your preferred search engine. You will then see your state’s government website, which will include any additional restrictions.
If a COVID test is required, ask your hotel to recommend a testing center. Some hotels are offering on-site COVID tests to guests before they fly back to the U.S.
U.S. embassy COVID-19 pages
The U.S. government has standardized the COVID-19 information hub pages for each country that hosts a U.S. embassy, making it much easier for travelers to find pertinent, country-specific travel information.
To access these sites, pull up a search engine and enter “U.S. embassy covid [name of the country you plan on visiting].” For example, if you’d like to visit Italy, you’d search for “U.S. embassy covid Italy.”
The COVID-19 webpage on each embassy’s website may feel overwhelming to read, given the extent of information. Scroll to the section titled “Entry and Exit Requirements,” or better yet, hold down the Control (or Command) key and the F key simultaneously to launch the Find function. Enter “entry and exit” and you’ll immediately drop down to the relevant section.
Although the information displayed can vary from country to country, this section will let you know if U.S. citizens are allowed to enter, including which type of a COVID test and/or a vaccine is required (if applicable).
Two other important sections on this page to read are titled “Quarantine Information” and “Movement Restrictions.” The former section will advise if quarantine is mandated, while the latter will discuss if a curfew is in place.
Government website of your destination
The embassy pages will often have a link to the country’s local government site for more information. Due to the constantly changing travel restrictions, taking a look at local government sites is advisable. In case the U.S. embassy page is outdated, you’d want to cover your bases.
If there’s no link on the U.S. embassy page, search for “Can I enter [country you plan on visiting] from the U.S.” in a search engine. Using the aforementioned example of Italy, you’d want to search “Can I enter Italy from the U.S.?”
Within the first few search results, you’ll likely see the country’s local government page. Hopefully, you’ll find relevant, up-to-date travel information. Since these are local government websites, the information provided can vary by country or may not be in English.
Consider purchasing travel insurance
Even if you plan everything perfectly, traveling during the pandemic carries a lot of uncertainty. If you decide to go abroad, we strongly recommend considering travel insurance.
According to insurance comparison site Squaremouth, travel insurance purchases have increased by 300% over the past year due to increased awareness around travel insurance and consumers’ desire to protect their trips in case of unexpected emergencies.
However, before purchasing a policy, check if your credit card offers free travel insurance. Many credit cards offer this perk; look at the fine print for your individual card to see what coverage you already have.
If you’re going abroad, be prepared
Traveling these days isn’t as simple as it used to be. However, you can still learn where U.S. citizens can travel right now with a quick internet search. If you check the relevant government websites mentioned above before you travel internationally and purchase travel insurance, you’ll be prepared for your trip.