The U.S.’ new pre-departure COVID-19 testing protocols for inbound international air travelers will take effect on Monday, Dec. 6.

Key Points:

  • Beginning Dec. 6 at 12:01 a.m. EST, travelers entering the U.S. by air will be required to show a negative COVID-19 viral test result taken no more than one day before travel or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days, before they board their flight.
  • Air passengers will also be required to attest that the information they present is true.
  • The requirement will apply to anyone ages 2 and older traveling to the U.S. by air, including U.S. citizens, regardless of vaccination status.
  • The requirement will not apply to individuals crossing land borders or arriving at seaports.
  • The testing requirements are in addition to the vaccination requirements for nonimmigrant foreign nationals that took effect Nov. 8.
  • Additional information is available here on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

Background: President Joe Biden announced the new testing requirement Thursday as part of a broader strategy to fight COVID-19 and mitigate the spread of the Omicron variant. Earlier this week, the U.S implemented new restrictions on travel from South Africa and seven other countries following the emergence of the new variant. The White House also said Thursday it would extend a requirement that individuals wear a mask on airplanes, trains and public transportation and at indoor transportation hubs, including airports.

BAL Analysis: The Biden administration took steps this week to tighten travel protocols following the emergence of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus. Anyone traveling internationally should arrange to be tested within one day of returning to the United States, and should anticipate the possibility that travel protocols may change with little notice. Employers and employees should continue to consult their BAL professional before planning international travel.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact

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