The U.S. government has imposed a new COVID-19 testing requirement for people traveling from the United Kingdom. This new requirement is in addition to the existing physical presence ban limiting travel from the U.K.

Key Points:

  • Anyone two years or older traveling from the U.K., including U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, must take a COVID-19 test within three days before travel and must present documentation of negative test results to their airline before departure. The requirement took effect at 7:01 p.m. EST on Sunday, Dec. 27.
  • The requirement does not apply to people traveling from a third country with a layover of less than 24 hours in the U.K.; it does apply to people whose travel originates in the U.K. but who have a layover in a third country before arriving in the U.S.
  • Travelers who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past three months do not need to be tested again if they (1) have documentation of the positive test and (2) have met the criteria to end isolation, as confirmed in a letter from their doctor or health department clearing them for travel.

Background: The testing requirement was imposed amid an outbreak of a new variant of the COVID-19 virus in the U.K. The U.S. had already banned most travel from the U.K. under a Presidential Proclamation issued on March 14. That ban remains in effect, but includes exemptions for U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, foreign national spouses of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents and a limited number of others. While the U.S. has imposed a number of similar “physical presence” bans (including on travel from BrazilChina, IranIreland and any of the 26 Schengen Area countries), this marks the first time that officials have implemented a testing requirement for those who are permitted to travel to the U.S.

Additional Information: An FAQ on the new testing requirement is available on this CDC web page. A public inspection notice is scheduled for publication in the Federal Register on Dec. 31. BAL will continue to monitor the U.S. government’s response to COVID-19 and will provide updates on important information as it becomes available.

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

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