As the world reopens, here's what travelers need to know
The COVID-19 global pandemic ground much international travel to a temporary halt. As vaccine distribution gains traction, business and leisure travelers alike are itching to explore the world once again. Yet traveling during a pandemic can be complicated, with responses from countries around the world varying widely.
For U.S. citizens who want to wander internationally, it's important to consider pandemic rules and regulations for the nation destination you have in mind and be aware of any regulations you might face upon your return to U.S. soil. Will you be required to quarantine for a length of time on either leg of your journey? What border closings should you be aware of? Do you need proof of vaccination? Will you have to be tested for COVID-19 before a country lets you in? The questions abound, and the requirements can be overwhelming.
So where can you find the latest regulations for the country or countries you plan to visit? And as the situation is ever-changing, where can you find up-to-the-minute information about U.S. reentry requirements? Let's take a look.
Understanding international travel regulations and COVID-19
To understand your responsibilities as an international traveler and the expectations you'll meet in your destination country, you'll want to consult reputable sources with current information. The U.S. Department of State has issued travel advisories specific to each country, which are updated regularly. It is essential to be aware of destination-specific requirements related to the pandemic. Failure to follow these policies could result in denial of entry and a required return to the U.S. — putting a swift end to any business or leisure activities you had planned.
The requirements, in many cases, may not change even when you are fully vaccinated. Certain destinations may still require you to show a negative test result or recent recovery — which is currently the case when traveling back to the United States.
Enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) may be helpful, as this free program through the Bureau of Consular Affairs connects you with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, through which you will receive safety alerts related to your destination country. In addition, it can help you receive support from the U.S. Embassy in case of emergencies, including natural disasters and civil unrest.
Upon re-entering the United States
When you return to the United States, be aware that you will have several responsibilities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at this point, requires all air passengers entering the country to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within three calendar days of departure. Alternately, you can present proof that you have recovered from COVID-19 within the past 90 days. It is the airline's responsibility to confirm that you have presented one of these two requirements — and that all passengers over the age of two have done so as well. Fail to present proof of recent recovery or a negative test, and you may be denied boarding.
It is also important to note that the CDC does not recommend travel at this time. If you are planning to travel internationally, the volatility of the pandemic could present travel disruption and even affect your ability to return to the U.S. as intended. Because the situation is rapidly evolving and cities, countries, and airlines frequently change their policies to adjust to the situation, be sure to conduct your own research to prepare for any policies in place through your air carrier and destination.
Inform yourself for safe travel
Traveling in a pandemic is complex and requires a good deal of due diligence on your part to ensure a smooth journey. Stay abreast of conditions in your destination country, and be sure you have a full understanding of the policies of the airlines, destination and home country as we all continue to navigate the COVID-19 crisis.
By Emily Iverson, La Crosse Divorce and Family Lawyer at Johns, Flaherty & Collins, SC. For a family and divorce lawyer in La Crosse, WI, call her at 608-784-5678.