Major Update: December 14, 2021
The response to the new Omicron scare from Europe and most of the world has been remarkably mild (with an exception of the bans imposed for several African countries), but if you’re heading to the UK or Belgium, you have to take an antigen test now. Not a huge hurdle, though.
UK adds 2-day pre-test (antigen is fine) and must book and prepay for a PCR test within 2 days of arrival and quarantine until you get the result.
Belgium now requires a pretest: 1-day Antigen for vaccinated Americans and you’ll need to test on the day of your arrival and stay in quarantine until you get the result, You’ll also have to test on day 7.
Antigua and Barbuda has reinstated the 3-day negative PCR requirement.
The tables below are updated with the latest information.
British Virgin Islands has dropped the pre-test requirement for vaccinated travelers in favor of the $50.00 antigen test on arrival.
Ecuador now requires vaccination AND 3-day negative PCR test.
Peru, on the other hand, has ditched the 3-day negative PCR test requirement for fully vaccinated travelers (again).
Sint Maarten has dropped pre-test requirement for fully vaccinated travelers.
Ireland has added a pre-test requirement from December 3 — a 72-hr negative PCR or 48-hr antigen test is now required for vaccinated travelers.
Sweden used to ban most Americans, but not anymore! The government now allows entry to vaccinated Americans without a pretest. Note, however, that the U.S. embassy hasn’t updated their entry information regarding this policy change. The changes were announced on October 28, so they just need a little more time.
Ecuador has lifted the PCR-test requirement for vaccinated Americans visiting the Galapagos Islands (restored pre-test requirements).
Anguilla still requires a pre-authorization and pre-test, but it now allows a PCR or antigen test within 5 days of travel.
Curaçao has also revised its entry requirements. Now, you have a choice between a 48-hour PCR test and 24-hour antigen test. You’ll also need to take another antigen test on the third day of your stay.
Cuba is technically closed to most Americans anyway, but in terms of Covid, vaccinated Americans can enter the island without a pre-test from Nov 7.
Please read first!
The focus of this list is to help vaccinated U.S. travelers find a vacation destination with as few restrictions as possible. I don’t focus on entry rules for the unvaccinated, although I mention them sporadically when needed in context.
I always try to give you actionable info because anything along the lines of “a negative Covid test is required” is utterly useless.
- Which Covid test? PCR or antigen?
- When must you take it? Two days, five days, or one week before departure / arrival?
The devil’s in the details, and these details make all the difference in the world.
I’ve gone to great lengths to make sure this info is accurate
It’s unfortunate but many publications are printing (reprinting probably) unverified or outdated information without consulting primary sources.
Even U.S. embassies, while usually reliable, can take their sweet time updating crucial entry information. Which is why I try to get to the primary sources wherever possible.
Having said that, if you do find any errors or inconsistencies in this article, please don’t keep it to yourself.
The PCR test requirement is a huge headache for a traveler sitting on her packed bags
Any quarantine requirement is a deal killer for an occasional traveler. I think no one can argue with that.
But the PCR Covid-19 test requirement is a huge problem, too. First of all, you’re usually supposed to get it within 72 hours of boarding or arrival. In New York City not a single lab will guarantee you this turnaround. In order to get your PCR test within this timeframe, you must:
- Go to a hospital. Many hospitals can get you a result within 12 to 24 hours.
- Go to a commercial Rapid-PCR provider. The can get you results within a few hours to 24 hours.
The problem with the first approach is that you’re likely to wait hours and hours in an emergency room, which is also a high-risk environment. When my wife got sick, our ER wait was 5 hours, between 11 pm and 4 am.
The issue with the second approach is the cost. The Rapid-PCR test can cost you around $250 and is unlikely to be covered by your insurance.
Of course, you can just take a regular PCR test for free, cross your fingers, and hope that the result will arrive in time for your travel. I’ve taken several PCR tests so far. Most results have arrived within three days, and one on the next day. But a couple of tests have arrived on the fourth and fifth day. Not acceptable.
Which is why the best tests to me are as follows:
- No test.
- Antigen test.
- Any free or low-cost test on arrival.
- PCR test with a longer time-frame (not as good as options above, but still…).
I would like to clarify that I’m not being snarky in any way. I fully recognize that any country has the right to decide how to protect their people without asking for my approval. 🙂
But it’s in my power to skip countries that make me jump through the hoops and go to the one that doesn’t. Or, more realistically, the one that makes me jump through fewer hoops. I think it’s fair. 🙂
What you still need to consider
There are additional steps that might be required by many countries. You might have to fill out an online form, download an app, apply for the entry permission online, and / or undergo a random test upon arrival. In addition, keep in mind that things can change very quickly (including new lockdowns, curfews, etc.). You’re also supposed to take a Covid test within 72 hours before returning to the U.S (although that’s about to change in light of the new Omicron variant). Fortunately, a rapid antigen test will satisfy that requirement. You might also consider buying a good travel insurance plan that covers Covid and repatriation services in case of medical emergency.
Vaccinated travelers are usually considered the ones who have received the second (or first for Johnson & Johnson) shot at least two weeks before the date of travel, but there are exceptions, so DO READ the links I’m providing.
I always try to avoid “public service announcements,” but please consider avoiding travel until you’re fully vaccinated.
I don’t keep tabs on every country in the world
If you don’t see the country you want to visit in my list, presume one of the following:
- It requires a quarantine for fully vaccinated travelers.
- It requires vaccinated travelers to present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel.
- I believe the country in question isn’t touristy. If you disagree, please reach out, and I’ll promptly update!
And thank you, reader Joel, for reminding me about Honduras (for beautiful Roatan), but please, everyone, use the comments section rather than email.
And please, keep in mind that this list only provides the most vital information about countries’ entry requirements.
After that the ball’s in your court
Remember there are a lot of other things you’ll need to figure out.
- Entry terms for unvaccinated children are different for every country
- Ditto the vaccination timeline (who’s considered fully vaccinated)
- Ditto pre-approvals / pre-authorizations / application forms
- There can be health insurance requirements
- There can be transit testing requirements (yes, some countries require a negative test just to transit through their airports!)
- If you’re coming to a country after a stay in a third country, there might be additional restrictions
Also, keep in mind this piece is about air travel. Conditions for border crossings by sea or land may differ.
Do click on the provided links to get the full info!
ALWAYS check local Covid restrictions
Even if the country you’re visiting has easy entry requirements it doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Do you want to vacation in a country with a 6pm curfew? Will you be happy if masks are required outside? What if they ask you to wear two masks in crowded places (Peru does)? Every municipality within your destination country makes their own rules and restrictions, so make sure to research these kinds of things thoroughly, even if it involves asking questions on travel forums.
The Americas (valid as of 10.6.21)
|Countries||Vaccination to Enter or Avoid Quarantine?||Test Required for the Vaccinated|
|Anguilla||Yes||Up to 5-day PCR or up to 48 hrs Antigen|
|Yes||3-day PCR, antigen option removed for now|
|1. Aruba||No||3-day PCR or test at home if flying JetBlue|
|Bahamas||No||PCR or Antigen 5 days|
|Belize||No||PCR 96 hrs, or Antigen 48 hrs,
or a $50 test on arrival
|Brazil (as of 10.6.21)||No||PCR 72 hrs, or Antigen 24 hrs|
|British Virgin Islands||Yes||$50.00 antigen test on arrival|
|Colombia||No||No test required|
|Costa Rica||No||No test required|
||No||No test required|
|Curaçao||No||48-hour PCR test or 24-hour Antigen|
|Dominican Republic||No||No test required|
|Yes||Now requires vaccination AND 3-day PCR test|
|Yes||PCR 72 hrs, Antigen 48 hrs, or test on arrival|
|Honduras including Roatan||No||No test required|
|Jamaica||No||72-hour PCR or Antigen test|
|Mexico||No||No test required|
|Panama||No||No test required|
|Peru||No||No test required|
|St. Lucia||Yes||PCR 5 days|
|Sint Maarten||Yes||No test required|
|Turks and Caicos||Yes||72-hour PCR or Antigen|
|Countries||Vaccination Required to Enter or Avoid Quarantine Y/N||Entry for Vaccinated: Test requirements|
|Austria||Yes||No test required|
|Belgium||Yes||72hrs PCR. 1 day antigen. or
test on 1st or 2nd day in Belgium
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||No||No test required|
|Czechia||Yes||No test required|
|Croatia||No||No test required|
|Cyprus||No||No test required|
|Denmark US Embassy||Yes||No test required|
|Estonia||Yes||No test required|
|Finland||Yes||No test required|
|France||Yes||No test required|
|No||No test required|
|Germany||Yes||No test required|
|Greece||No||No test required|
|Iceland US Embassy||Yes||72-hr PCR or Antigen|
|Ireland||Yes||72-hr PCR or 48-hr antigen|
|Italy||Yes||72-hr PCR or Antigen|
|Latvia||Yes||No test required|
|Lithuania||Yes||No test required|
|Luxembourg removed||No||US citizens are now banned|
|Malta||Yes||No test required|
|Monaco||Yes||No test required|
|Montenegro||No||No test required|
|The Netherlands||Yes||48 hrs PCR or 24 hrs Antigen|
|North Macedonia||No||No test required|
|Poland||Yes||No test required|
|Portugal, Azores, Madeira||No||72 hrs PCR, 48 hrs Antigen,
an EU Digital COVID Certificate
|Romania||Yes||No test required|
|Serbia||No||48 hrs PCR or Antigen|
|Slovenia||No||No test required|
|Spain||No||No test required|
|Switzerland||Yes||No test required|
|Turkey||No||No test required|
|UK||No||2-day Antigen, PCR for days 0-2|
Africa and the Middle East
|Namibia Trusted Travel platform||No||7-day PCR but see the links|
|Senegal||No||No test required|
|South Africa||No||72 hrs PCR / Antigen or Antigen on arrival|
|Oman||Yes||72-96 hrs PCR or PCR test on arrival|
OWB countries 🙂
|French Polynesia||Yes||72 hrs PCR or 48 hrs Antigen|
|The Maldives||No||96-hour PCR|
Every country on this list is worth visiting, including Montenegro and Georgia, which are sadly not on many people’s radar. The countries from this list are not just open, but allow a vaccinated traveler go places with the minimum hoops to jump through. That counts for something, IMHO.
Of course, we know that this pandemic is unpredictable. There are countries that saw great success containing Covid that quickly turned into a nightmare when some restrictions were lifted. So there are quite a few questions all of us should ask ourselves before we start packing.
- What’s the Covid situation there right now?
- Do they have lockdowns and / or curfews in places I’m planning to visit?
- What’s open (tourist attractions, beaches, restaurants, clubs) and in what capacity?
- And many others.
Keep in mind that things can go bad very fast. And get the best travel and medical insurance money can buy that does cover Covid – even though you’re vaccinated. Better safe than sorry.
Any thoughts, plans, or bookings? Please share in the comments.