USA Eases Travel Rules for International Arrivals; No More COVID Testing before Departure

Good news for the US-bound international travelers! After weeks of pressure exerted by the airline industry, the US government decided to ease the travel regulations for international arrivals by dropping the pre-departure COVID-19 testing requirement. The much-awaited lifting of pre-boarding testing will take effect from midnight on June 12, 2022 (as per US time zones). However, you will still be required to carry an international travel certificate (your vaccination proof) downloaded from Indian Government’s CoWin portal.

USA entry rules, USA ends pre-boarding COVID testing, travel to USA without COVID test

To say precisely, to be fully-vaccinated is still a mandate for the entry of foreign nationals above 18 years of age, including Indians. According to the Presidential Proclamation that has been applicable to inbound travel to USA since November 8, 2021; unvaccinated or partially vaccinated US citizens and Green Card holders (LPRs), irrespective of age, can travel to the US only if they test COVID-19 negative prior to undertaking the journey from a foreign shore. Whether pre-departure testing will continue to be mandatory for unvaccinated/partially vaccinated US citizens and Green Card holders’ return travel to USA, is still uncertain.

Under the existing policy for entry into the United States, foreign nationals including Indians above 2 years and under 18 years of age are exempt to vaccination but subject to pre-departure COVID-19 testing. We at Indian Eagle, a most trusted air-ticketing partner of Indians in America, are wondering whether the US government’s lifting of pre-boarding testing applies to unvaccinated Indians under 18.

However, the relaxation announced today is a welcome relief for fully-vaccinated travelers from the constraints of taking a COVID-19 test just the day before their scheduled departure from India. The pre-departure testing timeline that the US government restricted to no more than one calendar day before scheduled departure on a US-bound flight, effective from December 6, has caused a great deal of inconvenience to many travelers from tier 2 and 3 cities in India. Many Indians traveling from domestic airports to major airports, such as Delhi IGI, Mumbai CSMI, Hyderabad RGI, Chennai MAA, for catching international flights to USA past midnight (IST) found it very difficult to get tested within the stipulated timeframe.

Are you wondering what if a negative test report is required for hassle-free transit in Doha or Dubai while traveling on Qatar Airways or Emirates flights to USA from India? Neither Dubai nor Doha requires transit travelers from India to present a negative COVID test report. You can also transit in London Heathrow or Germany without taking a pre-departure test in India. No pre-departure testing is required for your transit through Singapore if you are scheduled to travel on Singapore Airlines flights to USA from India.

The CDC has made it clear that the decision to let international travelers enter the country without a negative test result will be reviewed in 90 days. The pre-departure testing policy will be reinstated as and when the CDC officials find it necessary. More details of the announced change to the existing policy for US-bound travelers are underway through an official release from the White House.

India was the first country to have eliminated its pre-departure testing requirement for fully-vaccinated international arrivals from the US and other countries in February 2022. Canada, the UAE, Qatar, the UK and Singapore followed suit. Most recently, Turkey, Thailand, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway and a few other EU countries lifted COVID-19 travel restrictions.

“It seems that we are back to the pre-pandemic travel times. The pre-boarding testing removal by the US is a welcome move especially for elderly travelers from India. Since the news broke out this morning, we have been receiving an influx of queries with regard to fares and itineraries for flights to USA from India. We’re afraid of running out of the best deals from our airline partners,” said the chief travel advisor of IndianEagle.com.

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