United States: COVID Travel Restrictions
United States COVID Travel Restrictions for Business Aviation
This article covers the latest United States COVID travel restrictions impacting business aviation, including testing, quarantine, and entry requirements. Ask your Universal Trip Support team for a Feasibility Guide to get detailed intelligence for your destination of interest.
May 3, 2021
- On Jan. 12, 2021, the U.S. CDC issued an order requiring proof of a negative viral COVID-19 test (NAAT/PCR or antigen), or medical proof of recovery, for anyone arriving from a foreign country to the U.S. The order went into effect Jan. 26, 2021 for ALL flights, including private flight and GA aircraft. Key points:
- Only ACTIVE crew members are EXEMPT. You can find the full definition of ACTIVE CREW and some analysis on the various exemption scenarios that we’ve been asked about on our website.
- Passengers must show aircraft operator proof of negative result, taken with 3 days of boarding, or of recovery prior to boarding.
- Operators of private flights and general aviation must maintain passenger Attestations (i.e., declaration forms) for 2 years. Note: While the operator needs to see the test result, only the Attestations (which can be captured digitally) must be kept on file. We are providing free pre-populated Attestation forms on Universal-managed trips in-bound to the U.S. Ask us for details.
- The CDC’s website has more information on the order, including the official announcement and FAQs.
- Note FAA NOTAM reinforcing the CDC order.
- This article on our blog has more information, including a comprehensive list of FAQs we’ve received such as vaccines exemptions (not allowed), types of tests accepted, enforcement, “active crew” definition, impact to air ambulance missions and more.
- On March 8, the CDC issued its first set of guidelines on how fully vaccinated people can visit safely with others. The CDC continues to advise against all non-essential travel, but there is no meaningful impact on int’l travel with the release of these guidelines.
- U.S. Presidential Proclamations: On Sunday, Jan. 25, the Biden Administration re-instated the U.S. travel restrictions on all non-U.S. travelers who have been in Brazil, South Africa, and most EU countries, including the UK and Ireland. Update: A new Presidential Proclamation adding INDIA to the list of Suspended Regions has been released. The new India travel ban is effective at 12:01 a.m. EST on May 4, 2021.
- CBP has published a bulletin announcing a variety of U.S. visa holders have been granted blanket national interest exceptions to the current entry restrictions on travelers from suspended regions. Note: B1 and B2 visas are not exempt.
- All stops in suspended regions, overnight or just tech stops, are treated the same.
- The U.S. State Department quietly released a buried update allowing National Interest Waivers (NIWs) to be issued to foreign crew seeking entry to the U.S. for the purposes of training or aircraft pickup, delivery, or maintenance – despite their travel history. Crew must have a B-1/B-2, B-1, or M-1 visa, or Visa Waiver Program authorization to qualify. This is a big one many in the business aviation community have been asking for. We have extensive expertise with NIWs and can assist.
- Entry by any non-U.S. foreign national (that includes Canadian and Mexican citizens) who has been in a suspended region over the past 14 days is HIGHLY RESTRICTED and will be denied, with few exceptions.
- CDC guidelines RECOMMEND quarantine; they don’t mandate it. CDC spokespeople have confirmed the same. While a new Presidential Proclamation concerning quarantine on arrival is likely, details and possible exemptions (e.g., vaccine passports) are still TBD.
- U.S. APIS Update: All GA travelers are now required to provide additional details, including primary phone number and email address, for contact tracing purposes when coming from Guinea or the DROC in response to Ebola. Scheduled airlines have already been doing this. Airport funneling from these destinations is also in effect. While these destinations aren’t the most popular for GA travel, it’s not unlikely that we could see the APIS data collection portion of this requirement expanded to cover arrivals from more countries (e.g., for contact tracing other diseases). Note that Private and Charter flights will have different processes for complying with this based on how APIS information is currently transmitted for each of these two flight types. Read more about this on our blog.
- Applications for signatory carrier status under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are still being processed. All U.S.-based operators (including some international companies with U.S. subsidiaries) and non-U.S. commercial operators are eligible to apply. If you are not a signatory carrier and qualify, we recommend you apply to increase your operating flexibility. We can help.
- The National Interest Waiver (NIW) is another avenue foreign nationals can seek for entry into the U.S. and can be an effective means of entry. Allowed purposes of visit include Business, Education, Training, and Medical. Application for entry is available for the following U.S. AOEs: KLAX, KEWR, KDFW, KJFK, and KIAH, as well as through the U.S. Embassy in France and the UK. Our Global Regulatory Services team has worked out the repeatable process to apply at each of these and can provide support.
- The U.S. STEP Program is an important risk mitigation program that U.S. nationals should be using on every international trip, especially now with COVID. When the first wave hit and we saw the massive wave of lockdowns, this program helped get people on the U.S. Embassy’s evacuation list to return home. It has a whole host of other benefits like if you lose your passport or have medical issues, if there is a terrorist incident or civil unrest, etc. Our Global Regulatory Services team offers an optional, turnkey STEP Registration Service for your trips with us.
- Any operator entering the U.S. from the south should be taking advantage of the CBP’s Border Overflight Exemption (BOE) program to avoid having to make an extra stop at the first designated AOE when returning home. A BOE is good for 2 years, and it greatly increases your operational flexibility. We can take care of this for you.
- Non-U.S. charter (non-scheduled commercial) operators flying to/from the U.S. with less than 12 flights per year MUST have a DOT Part 375 Ops Permit and/or Special Authorization. We can assist.
- Advise passengers and crew to continue maintaining a 14-day travel history log of the countries, states, and cities they visit. This is critical for both travel into the U.S., within it, and abroad.
- Restrictions on non-essential travel for USA/Canada/Mexico land borders remain in place until April 21, 2021.
- Hawaii – The pre-arrival testing program began Oct. 15, allowing visitors to bypass quarantine. Read more online. Hawaii has a specific list of approved C19 testing providers and tests that you must use, and this supersedes the CDC pre-testing order. All travelers arriving in Hawaii are still required to have a temperature check and complete a Travel Declaration Form. U.S Presidential Proclamations restricting flights apply. People traveling interisland can find additional information and the interisland limited quarantine request by visiting county webpages. Note that each island has its own requirements and rules, so check beyond the state level. The state’s vaccine passport program which would allow inter-island travel is now delayed to at least July. Kauai has joined the Safe Travels pre-travel testing program for Trans-Pacific travel.
- Puerto Rico – Open to foreign tourism. Both U.S. and international pax need a COVID-19 test (within 72 hours of travel); otherwise, traveler will be tested on arrival. Complete a digital Travel SAFE Declaration Form and submit at www.travelsafe.pr.gov or www.viajaseguro.pr.gov. Proof of negative COVID test required to avoid quarantine. Crew are exempt.
- USVI – International leisure hotel guests are allowed. U.S Presidential Proclamations restricting flights apply. Since this is a U.S. territory, CDC testing requirements for int’l arrivals do not apply for U.S. citizens. Visit the USVI Travel Screening Portal and fill out the info requested in advance. Additional information and testing requirements available on https://usviupdate.com/. Note that testing requirements DO apply to the crew, unless crew is on the ground less than 24 hours. Our preferred ground handler at TIST, Standard Aviation, has parking availability and can provide air transfers to neighboring Caribbean islands.
- Alaska – Alaska’s travel mandates and orders are now just travel advisories. Full entry details online.