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Can I travel to the United States?

·7-min read
 ( Pexels)
( Pexels)

On 8 November the United States reopened its borders to fully-vaccinated, Covid-tested air travellers from Great Britain and over 30 other countries.

Previously, severe restrictions were in place - these were imposed during Donald Trump’s presidency in a bid to reduce the spread of coronavirus infections. But the Biden administration announced last month that these would be eased, raising the possibility of family reunions and holiday for the first time in almost two years.

Read on for full details of the requirements that remain in place for those wishing to fly to the US from the UK, including what you need to do when you return to the UK.

Travel to the United States from 8 November

From 8 November, fully-vaccinated individuals will be able to travel to the US. Children under age 18 will not be required to be fully-vaccinated,

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says travellers heading to the US must:

  • get a Covid test no more than 3 days before their departure if they are fully-vaccinated

  • get a Covid test no more than 1 day before their departure date if they are not fully-vaccinated

  • present a negative result or documentation of recovery from Covid-19 to their airline.

Children under 2 are not required to take a test.

Travellers who have been fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or World Health Organisation (WHO), and travellers who are unvaccinated, should get tested for the virus 3 to 5 days after travel, with the latter self-quarantining for a full 7 days after arrival.

Travellers who have recovered from a documented COVID-19 infection within the last 3 months, should follow the rules for fully vaccinated travellers, except they do not need to get tested 3 to 5 days after travel unless they are symptomatic.

All travellers should follow state and local guidelines for the specific area of the US they are entering, which can be found on the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Masks must be worn on aircraft, trains, buses and at airports across the US.

What else do I need to travel to the US?

Those travelling to the US from other areas should have a visa, or in most cases will be eligible for an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) visa waiver, at a cost of $14.

Refer to the US State Department website to find out which you will need.

Contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the US for further information on rules of entry.

You can check that your travel documents meet the necessary requirements for travel to the US, with your airline or travel company.

Once in the US

While hotels are reopening they, and other public places such as shops, restaurants and bars, are following the rules and regulations of their local authorities, in relation to Covid-19.

Returning to the UK from the US

Depending on the restrictions in force at the time, you may be required to take Covid-19 tests or even enter quarantine on your return to the UK. This could be at your home or in a government-sanctioned quarantine hotel.

The UK government aims to review its restrictions every three weeks.

Find out more about travel rules for returning to the UK.

Taking out travel insurance for the US

Travelling to the US requires a specific type of travel insurance policy with a sufficiently high level of cover to act as a financial safety net if a problem were to arise. Emergency medical costs alone can easily stack up to tens of thousands of dollars in the US so, while travel insurance is not a legal requirement, such protection can be extremely useful.

Here’s what to look out for when choosing travel insurance for the US:

What is travel insurance for the US?

When choosing a policy, look out for worldwide cover that includes the US, Canada and the Caribbean.

Then, decide what type of policy you need. Options include a single trip policy for a one-off holiday, or an annual policy which will cover you for multiple trips to various destinations within the space of 12 months.

Alternatively, you can choose backpacker insurance for a longer period of travel to numerous destinations, including the US.

What’s covered under travel insurance for the US?

Typically, travel insurance policies will cover you for the following as standard:

  • Medical expenses for treatment, medical bills and repatriation costs should you fall ill or get injured while you’re away

  • Cancellation costs if an emergency means you are forced to cancel your holiday

  • Lost or stolen possessions in the event that your personal belongings, baggage or money are damaged, lost or stolen

  • Disruption and delays to cover the costs of cancelled flights

  • Personal liability for compensation claims made against you for damaging someone else’s property or causing injury or death.

Types and levels of cover vary depending on policy. If your policy does not include all of the above, your insurer may be able to add the cover you need, potentially at an additional cost.

Remember to check your policy details for limitations and exclusions, such as a cap on the number of items for which you can make a lost and stolen possessions claim.

What else is there to consider when travelling to the US?

Depending on your insurer, you will also be able to add various other types of extra cover to your policy. This ranges from cover for risks related to extreme sports and activities to end supplier failure or scheduled airline failure cover, in case your holiday company or airline goes bust.

But remember as always, your insurer will expect you to ask your holiday provider or airline for compensation before making a claim. It’s only if your request is rejected that you should claim on your insurance.

Package holidays may be certified ATOL- or ABTA-protected, which means you’d be provided with financial compensation if something were to go wrong.

When will I not be covered if travelling to the US?

While non-essential travel to the US is currently permitted by the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), it’s best to check the status of your destination as close to your departure as possible, as the FCDO regularly updates its advice.

Going to a destination where the FCDO advises against ‘all but essential’ travel can invalidate your policy.

Very few insurers will protect you if you travel against the FCDO’s advice. These include CoverForYou, Cedar Tree and Outbacker.

What is an excess?

You will need to make a set payment towards any claim you make - usually £50 or £100. This is called the excess or deductible.

Some policies charge a single excess for each claim, while others charge the excess for each person listed on the policy, which is potentially more expensive. However, a higher excess may result in lower premiums.

Some policies offer an ‘excess waiver’ option, where you pay a single amount to remove the imposition of any excess if a claim is made.

What about Covid-19?

It is now common practice for insurers to cover at least medical expenses and repatriation costs for Covid-19-related risks, in the event you fall ill with the virus while on holiday and need to return to the UK early.

Cover often extends to cancellation due to Covid-19-related risks too, should, for example, you or a member of your party contract the virus before your departure date and need to quarantine.

As with non Covid-related risks, accepted reasons for claims vary between insurers, so make sure to check these when purchasing your cover.

Finding the right travel insurance policy for the US

Use a travel insurance comparison tool such as ours to easily compare policies catered to your trip to the US.

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