Travel from the UK to the US is set to resume from November, US officials have confirmed.
Travel to the States from a range of countries, including Britain, has been frozen for non-residents since March 2020, thanks to a series of presidential proclamations.
During his time as president, Donald Trump initially limited travel from China before banning countries from the Schengen zone, as well as the United Kingdom and Ireland, in early 2020 as the pandemic took hold. President Joe Biden’s administration has maintained these tight restrictions.
However, the White House has now said fully vaccinated adults from 33 countries, including the UK, China and EU nations, will be allowed into the US.
But what date can travel to the States resume?
Here’s everything we know so far.
When can I travel to the US again?
On Monday 20 September, a White House official confirmed that the US is is set to reopen to foreign nationals from “early November”.
White House pandemic coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters he expects fully vaccinated travellers from countries including the UK to be able to enter the US starting in “early November”.
“International travel is critical to connecting families and friends, to fuelling small and large businesses, to promoting the open exchange ideas and culture,” he said.
“That’s why, with science and public health as our guide, we have developed a new international air travel system that both enhances the safety of Americans here at home and enhances the safety of international air travel.”
An exact date has not been confirmed as yet, with travellers and industry insiders keenly awaiting more concrete information.
What are the current entry restrictions to the US for UK travellers?
A ban on travel from the UK to the US was introduced on 16 March 2020. The presidential proclamation of 14 March banned UK travellers from entering the US because their presence “threatens the security of our transportation system and infrastructure and the national security”.
It prevents holidays and non-essential business or family trips to the US. The principle exception is: “any alien whose entry would be in the national interest” and those needing to enter the country for certain compassionate reasons.
According to the UK’s Foreign Office advice, British nationals who have been in the UK, Ireland, Schengen zone, Iran, Brazil, China and South Africa in the previous 14 days will not be granted entry.
Anyone arriving from elsewhere will be subject to usual entry rules: either with a visa or with an Esta visa waiver.
These rules don’t apply to US citizens and permanent residents of the US, as well as close family members and other limited visa holders.
Once the official date for US travel to reopen is announced, double jabbed travellers will be able to enter on the normal terms: presenting a visa or an Esta (America’s online entry permit). They will not need to quarantine on arrival, although they will need to present a negative Covid test prior to departure.
How important is UK-US travel?
The Transatlantic travel market is huge. In 2019, nearly four million Britons travelled to the US, according to the UK’s Foreign Office, while 4.5 million visits were made from the US to the UK, according to figures from VisitBritain.
Pre-pandemic, London-New York was one of the busiest international air corridors in the world, with around three million passengers annually.