As part of his trip to Argentina, Travel-Dealz author Ditmar entered the USA on November 9 – just one day after the long-awaited reopening of the US-American border, after about a year and a half of the travel ban making it much more difficult for us to enter. In this short report, the requirements for entry are explained again, as well as how the entry process actually played out.
Table of Contents
Prior to Traveling
To enter the country, you need the following:
- Proof that you are fully vaccinated
- Negative COVID-19 test
- ESTA (or visa)
To enter the United States, one must be fully vaccinated. The following vaccines are accepted:
- J&J Janssen
- Pfizer BioNTech
- BIBP Sinopharm
The vaccination status is checked at check-in, so the QR code from the normal CovPass app should suffice. In any case, it worked for me when I checked in at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.
Negative COVID-19 Test
In addition, a negative COVID-19 test must be presented at check-in. Unlike with other countries, it does not necessarily have to be a PCR test, but can also be a normal rapid test or antigen test. A complete overview of all accepted test types is available from the American CDC.
The test may be up to 3 days old at the time of departure. In contrast to other countries, the entire calendar days actually count here and not a 72-hour period. Assuming you fly on Friday at 14:00, the test can take place at any time on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday.
Although it has nothing to do with COVID-19, it is still necessary. You should apply for your ESTA a few days before your trip. Usually, it is approved within a few hours. ESTA allows entry without a visa, costs USD14[/ c], and is valid for 2 years (unless your passport already expires earlier). You don’t need to print out your ESTA authorization with you, but it can’t hurt. In any case, you have to take your passport with you.
If you are not allowed to apply for an ESTA (e.g. due to a stay in Iran), a visa is required.
Trip to the USA
Although this was a trip to Argentina, we are only interested in the first segment of the trip: from Amsterdam to New York with Delta. In the USA, there is no normal transit area and so everyone has to go through the normal entry process, regardless of whether they actually want to enter the country or not.
I had booked my flight before the pandemic and kept postponing it. If you no longer have an open booking and still want to travel to the USA, you are welcome to take a look at our current US deals:
Check-in & Boarding
My journey started in Amsterdam. Accordingly, the check-in took place there. This form was immediately given to me in the queue at the check-in counter. You simply have to check the option stating that you are fully vaccinated and have a negative test. This is then checked at the counter. Then you get the form back with a stamp. This form is then collected when boarding, and sooner as you know it, you are already on the plane!
In my case, I was flying straight to the United States from my departure airport. If you were to take a feeder flight first, you will probably not get the form at check-in, but at the gate of the transatlantic flight. I assume this because the forms were being distributed again at the gate to passengers who had not received such a form – probably passengers arriving from other airports.
Entry Into New York
After landing in New York (JFK), I just went to the immigration hall, just like always. On the way, a screen indicated that entry would probably take about 20 minutes. This was a complete overestimation, however, because as many immigration counters were manned, I was facing an immigration officer after just 10 minutes. He asked me quite normally whether I was bringing food, alcohol, or tobacco into the country and why I wanted to travel to the USA. After two short answers and a photo, I was already at the baggage carousel. Questions regarding corona, vaccination, test … none. The entry would probably not have looked any different in 2019.
Entry into the country could hardly have been more normal. ESTA existed before Corona, and a normal test was often needed to enter restaurants/cinemas /etc in many places in Europe, so this is hardly an obstacle for a trip to the US. Nevertheless, entry is still not possible for unvaccinated people.
Apparently, checks are only carried out at the departure airport, because not a single word was said about COVID-19 when entering New York.
Have you made your own experiences, entering the after travel ban, that differ from ours? Then leave a comment!
Cover Picture: Photo by Goh Rhy Yan on Unsplash