The U.S. Will No Longer Require International Air Travelers To Test for COVID

The move comes more than a year after the rule was first implemented.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Biden administration will no longer require international flyers to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before entering the U.S.

A senior administration official indicated that the requirement would be dropped on June 12 at 12:01 am EDT. White House Assistant Press Secretary Kevin Munoz also shared the news in a tweet today, writing, “US will end Covid-19 testing requirement for air travelers entering the country.”

 

The move comes more than a year after the rule was first implemented. The initial version of the mandate required fully vaccinated travelers to take a test within three days of their flight, while unvaccinated travelers needed to do so within one day. Additionally, the announcement was made less than two weeks after leaders of the U.S. Travel Association and Airlines for America met with White House officials to push for the rule’s reversal.

“Despite the countless studies affirming that the hospital-grade air onboard aircraft is some of the cleanest available and the significant increase in vaccination rates, the Administration continues to hold air travel to a standard different than land border crossings,” Airlines for America CEO Nicholas Calio said in a statement after the meeting.

When the U.S. experienced an abrupt surge of the highly contagious Omicron variant in November 2021, the White House pivoted to make the requirement stricter. It mandated that all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, had to get a test within 24 hours of traveling to the U.S.


A number of lawmakers and other officials reacted positively to the decision to lift the testing requirement. Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, called it “another huge step forward for the recovery of inbound air travel and the return of international travel to the United States.” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) said in a statement that she was “glad CDC suspended the burdensome coronavirus testing requirement for international travelers, and I’ll continue to do all I can to support the strong recovery of our hospitality industry.”

The CDC still requires international flyers who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents to be fully vaccinated before traveling to the U.S.


The decision to end the testing requirement is also a reflection of floundering U.S. international travel rates. The Associated Press reported that while U.S. domestic travel rates have risen to pre-pandemic levels, international travel still lagged, sitting 24% below 2019 levels.