Your Updated Guide to COVID Testing and Vaccine Requirements for Travel

Your Updated Guide to COVID Testing and Vaccine Requirements for Travel

Americans’ vacation confidence hit an all-time high in the summer of 2021, as COVID travel restrictions eased and people planned long-awaited trips.

But travel — especially overseas — is no longer as simple as grabbing your passport and heading to the airport. Every country now has its own COVID travel requirements, ranging from strict quarantine and testing rules to more relaxed policies.

You should know, too, that many countries now require travel insurance for visitors, to cover medical expenses in case you become ill with COVID-19. Select Allianz Travel Insurance plans now include the new Epidemic Coverage Endorsement, which adds epidemic-related covered reasons to certain benefits. (Benefits vary by plan and are not available in all jurisdictions. Terms, conditions and exclusions apply.)

Confused about entry requirements for your destination? Our interactive map shows current travel rules and restrictions for each destination, including info on COVID-19 testing, necessary travel documents and quarantine periods.

Is a COVID-19 vaccine required for international travel?

That depends on where you’re headed. Some destinations require incoming tourists to show proof of vaccination. These include Anguilla, Belize, and Bermuda, among others. 1

Other countries admit unvaccinated travelers, but require proof of a negative COVID test and/or a quarantine period upon entering the country.

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is a good idea for anyone who intends to travel. The CDC recommends American travelers get the COVID-19 vaccine before going overseas. 2

However, vaccinated travelers are not exempt from the United States’ own masking and COVID testing requirements. Masks are still required on planes, buses and trains traveling into, within, or out of the U.S. and while indoors at airports and stations. If you’re flying into the United States, you’re required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before you board your flight. 3

Is the COVID-19 vaccine required for cruise travel?

Many cruise lines are requiring passengers to provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccination before boarding. In April 2021, the CDC announced that cruise ships could begin sailing as long as 98% of crew members and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated. 4 However, that’s hard to enforce for ships departing from ports in Florida, which has banned the use of vaccine passports.

Carnival Cruise Lines requires proof of a negative COVID-19 test for unvaccinated passengers, as well as proof of travel insurance coverage. Each unvaccinated passenger must carry travel insurance protection with a minimum of $10,000, per person, in emergency medical benefits and $30,000 for emergency transportation benefits, without COVID-19 exclusions. Don’t have insurance? You won’t be allowed to sail, and the cruise line won’t give you a refund. (This requirement is currently being waived for children under 12 who are ineligible for a vaccine.) 5

Royal Caribbean, too, is requiring unvaccinated passengers departing from Florida to carry travel insurance that covers a minimum of $25,000 per person for medical expenses and $50,000 per person for emergency transportation. 6

What does “proof of vaccination” mean for travel purposes?

If you got your COVID-19 vaccine, you were given a white card showing the dates and the type of vaccination you received. But that card is awkward to carry around, and some overseas destinations may require digital proof of vaccination. A photo of the card may not be enough.

To get a digital vaccination record for travel, search for your state’s immunization registry on the CDC’s official list. You can download your vaccination record or a QR code to securely access it.

Some airlines accept the IATA Travel Pass, a mobile app that can securely store your COVID-19 vaccination and testing info. As of August 2021, there’s no international standardized system of COVID-19 vaccination records.

Which COVID tests are approved for travel?

Testing requirements vary by country, so be sure to do your research. “Some countries will only accept RT-PCR tests — considered the most accurate — while others will accept proof in any form of negative test to enter,” Travel + Leisure explains. 7 Rapid PCR or rapid antigen tests are accepted by some countries.

Timing is crucial! Check your destination’s rules about when you must take the test. There’s a narrow window (typically 48 to 72 hours before traveling) in which you have to take your test. Make sure, too, that you’ll get a document with your results, not just a phone call or text. 8

If you’re having a hard time finding a place to get a COVID-19 test within the approved window, don’t panic. Allianz Travel Insurance customers can contact Assistance by phone or via the free TravelSmart™ app. Our Assistance experts can research the options near you and will do their best to help.

If you recently were infected with COVID-19 and have recovered, then you may be able to show documentation of your illness instead of a negative test result. You’ll need proof of a recent positive viral test and a letter from your healthcare provider or a health official stating that you’ve been cleared to travel.

Which destinations have no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements?

Some countries have minimal COVID-19 entry restrictions for American travelers:

  • Costa Rica doesn’t require testing or vaccination for entry. Unvaccinated tourists, however, must purchase a travel insurance plan that covers lodging in case of quarantine and medical expenses if they become ill with COVID-19. Learn more about Costa Rica’s entry requirements.
  • Mexico has no COVID-19 testing, vaccination or quarantine requirements for U.S. tourists. 9 However, the CDC says unvaccinated travelers should avoid nonessential travel to Mexico. 10
  • Belgium has no COVID-19 entry restrictions for U.S. travelers, as long as the United States is not a red-zone country for COVID risk. Arriving Americans must complete a passenger locator form. 11
  • The Netherlands asks U.S. travelers to complete a health declaration, but vaccination, testing and/or quarantine isn’t required as long as the United States remains a low-risk country. 12

Just be sure to double-check the requirements before you go, as COVID-19 risk levels change rapidly and countries may change their policies.

How can I assess the COVID-19 risk at my travel destination?

Take a look at this color-coded map from the Centers for Disease Control. Almost every country is labeled with a current COVID risk assessment level, from 1 (low) to 4 (very high). The CDC advises avoiding travel to level 4 destinations.

There’s no such thing as travel that’s entirely risk-free. That’s why it’s smart to protect your trip with travel insurance. Get a quote for your next trip.