Expert Advice

Covid Rules and Restrictions: What You Need to Do and Know to Travel the World

by Pavia Rosati
Photo by Pavia Rosati.

This article was updated on April 3, 2022.

Here we go again: Another coronavirus variant was spreading fast, threatening our best-laid, ever hopeful travel plans. But faster than you can say "yes, I have my booster," Omicron is waning around the world. Yes, the roller coaster of mask-on-mask-off, go-out-stay-home is frustrating, but that's the reality of traveling (and living) as we work through the pandemic turning endemic. (Consider a very faint silver lining: We're brushing up on the Greek alphabet.)

Joking aside, we're all a little confused about rules and regulations that seem to change at break-neck speed as governments scramble to react to new threats that eventually (and mercifully!) become not-so-threatening.

Consider this a cheat sheet for the latest news and info you need on rules and testing requirements before you head out into the world.

The One-Stop Guide for Every Country on Earth

Sherpa

Sherpa is a travel tech company that powers tools for such global companies as American Airlines and Airbnb. They've developed an incredibly simple, useful, and free tool that tells you everything you need to know wherever you're going. You input a few variables — the country of your passport, departure and arrival countries, and vaccination status — and the tool generates the essential info you'll need about testing, quarantine, visas, any documentation you'll need to enter the country, and helpful links. A separate page on their site lists the latest health and travel restrictions by country. Bookmark this one.

And If You're Traveling To...

Here's country-specific info for popular destinations around the world. You'll notice a theme as rules are relaxing: If you're not vaccinated, you should reconsider traveling to keep yourself and everyone else safe.

Canada

Foreigners can go back to Canada! If they're fully vaccinated, that is, and have proof of a negative antigen/rapid test (taken within 24 hours of arriving in the country) or PCR/molecular test (taken within 72 hours or a flight's departure). This is for everyone over age 5. Here's more info.

The United States

Starting December 6, all international travelers entering the United States need proof of a negative antigen test taken within one day of travel or proof of recovery from Covid within the past 90 days, regardless of vaccination status. This includes US citizens and applies to all travelers older than two. Get more details here.

Special Hawaii Note: Good news from the American tropics! From March 26, the Aloha State is easing its strict Covid requirements for domestic travelers. The usual rules apply for international travelers. Here's more info.

The Caribbean

Barbados: Per newly relaxed rules, vaccinated travelers need to present a negative PCR/molecular test taken within three days of arrival or an antigen/rapid test within 2 hours. Non-vaccinated travelers, in addition to taking a test, have to quarantine for five days. The country is also easing the 12-5 a.m. curfew that has been in place since December 2020. Here's more info.

Jamaica: Starting March 1, visitors no longer need to complete a travel authorization form. Those over the age of 12 need to provide a negative antigen or PCR test taken within 72 hours of arriving in Jamaica. Jamaica has dropped all quarantine requirements. Here's more info.

Bermuda: Starting March 7, travelers over age 12 need to show proof of vaccination. Everyone over age 2 needs to complete a travel authorization form and have proof of a negative Covid test taken with two (for antigen) or four (for PCR) days of arrival. Here's more info.

England

Getting In
The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the United Kingdom on its Level 4 - Do Not Travel list.

The United Kingdom has relaxes all travel restrictions. That's right: Vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers no longer need to complete a passenger locator form, take a Covid test, present proof of vaccination, or quarantine when entering the country. Here is more info (in case you think this sounds too good to be true). 

If you need to get a Covid test when leaving England to enter another country, we have tried and liked Project Screen by Prenetics for self-administered tests and DocTap for in-person tests.

Getting Around
Under the new Living With Covid government plan, masks are no longer required on public transportation, though they are still "strongly encouraged." The Brits have been lax about masking since the beginning of the pandemic. Restaurants and other public places don't usually check for proof of vaccination.

Here's more info on the UK government website.

France

Getting In
The United States CDC has France on its Level 4 - Do Not Travel list.

France has relaxed many travel restrictions.

All countries are classified into three categories according to risk levels: red, amber/orange, and green. The United States is green; the United Kingdom is amber/orange.

Green countries: Vaccinated travelers need to carry proof of vaccination. Unvaccinated travelers must have proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel or an antigen within 48 hours or a certificate of recovery.

Amber/orange countries: Vaccinated travelers need proof of vaccination and a sworn statement certifying they don't have Covid-19 symptoms and have not had contact with anyone with Covid. Additionally, unvaccinated travelers also need to carry a travel certificate and may be subject to random testing. Those who test positive have to quarantine.

There are no restrictions for leaving France. Here's more info.

Getting Around
The French no longer require travelers to carry a "pass sanitaire" (the health pass or the Green Pass) unless they are visiting a healthcare facility or another place where there are at-risk individuals. Here's more info and a directory of French pharmacies if you need a pass.

Germany

Getting In
The United States CDC has Germany on its Level 4 - Do Not Travel list.

Starting December 23, everyone over the age of six must show proof of their Covid status in order to enter Germany; Covid tests must be taken within one day of travel. Visitors from high-risk countries, which include the US and the UK, must complete a digital registration form to enter the country. Here's more info.

Getting Around
Face masks must be work in stores, on public transportation, and in crowded outdoor areas.

Italy

Getting In
The United States CDC has Italy on its Level 4 - Do Not Travel list.

All visitors to Italy must fill in a digital Passenger Locator Form (minors can be included on their adult's form) and a self-declaration form attesting their health status and reason for travel. American travelers must show proof of vaccination and submit a negative test (PCR or antigen) within 72 hours of arriving in Italy. Here's more info.

Getting Around
The Italian government rates every region on a risk scale of white (very low), yellow (low), amber (high), and red (very high). The Italians have been very strict about masking at indoor and outdoor cultural events and on public transportation, requiring medical-grade face masks of the FFP2/KN95 variety. (So don't bother packing your cute cloth masks.) Starting February 11, masks are no longer required outdoors except for crowded areas. Proof of vaccination will also be required for entry to most places, including hotels and restaurants.

Mexico

The US CDC has Mexico on its Level 3 - Reconsider Travel list. But Mexico is open, with no quarantine or testing required. Travelers should complete a health declaration form before traveling in case airlines, customs officers, or resorts ask for it.

Australia

Down Under is Down Open! After a very long and very stringent lockdown, the country reopened to vaccinated travelers starting February 21. Unvaccinated travelers will need a special exemption to enter (and cheating will not be well received, as we learned from Novak Djokovic). All travelers need a visa (as usual) and to complete a Digital Passenger Declaration form. Here's more info.

Asia

India: The United States CDC has India on its Level 3 - Reconsider Travel list. International travelers must have a visa issued after October 15, 2021, and must complete a self-declaration form, and upload results of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel. Here's more official info from the US Embassy in India.

Vietnam: The United States CDC has Vietnam on its Level 4 - Do Not Travel list. Restrictions will ease beginning March 15: Vaccinated visitors with a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel will only have to quarantine for one day, not three, upon arrival. Travelers also need a valid visa. Here's more info.

Cambodia: The United States CDC recommends avoiding travel to Cambodia. Vaccinated international travelers must have proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival to Cambodia, then take a rapid test upon arrival and wait for the results. Here's more info from the Kingdom of Cambodia and from the US Embassy in Cambodia.

Thailand: The United States CDC has Thailand on its Level 3 - Reconsider Travel list. The country is open, with limitations. Starting March 1, vaccinated visitors arriving by air must have a Thailand Pass, proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel, an insurance policy worth at least $20,000, and proof of payment at a government-approved hotel for day 1 of their trip, as well as proof of payment for a PCR tests to be taken on day 1 and and an antigen test on day 5. Here's more info.

China, Hong Kong, and Japan remain closed.