Biden Administration to Replace Travel Bans with Vaccine Mandates

Mayer Brown

Executive Summary

On September 20, 2021, the Biden Administration announced that it will rescind the COVID-19 travel restrictions banning most travel from Europe, Brazil, India, China, Iran, and South Africa.  In its place, the Administration will impose new COVID-19 prevention protocols on all international air travelers, including those coming from countries not previously impacted by the COVID-19 travel bans.  

While many details regarding the new protocols are still unknown, the White House has shared some details with the public: 

  • Beginning in early November, foreign nationals traveling to the United States must be fullyvaccinated, show proof of vaccination prior to boarding, and present a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of boarding. 
  • While U.S. citizens will not need to be fully vaccinated, they will need to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of travel and provide proof of having purchased a viral test to be taken after arrival in the United States.
  • Airlines will be required to collect information for every passenger coming to the United States for contact tracing purpose.
  • These protocols will not apply to land border crossings. 
  • Children will not be required to be vaccinated.
  • There will be very limited exceptions for humanitarian travel where passengers overseas cannot receive the vaccine in a timely matter.  Those passengers will be required to be vaccinated upon arrival.    

Key Considerations

For employee air travel in and out of the United States after November 1st, we recommend monitoring announcements by the Administration regarding these new COVID-19 prevention protocols.  There are many unanswered questions.  For example, the Administration has not identified which vaccines will be acceptable for travel to the United States nor has it explained what constitutes acceptable proof of having received a vaccine.  At this time, the top 5 considerations your business should keep in mind when considering international travel after November 1st are:


  1. Are your traveling employees fully vaccinated with a U.S.-approved vaccine, or with one of the seven vaccines approved by the World Health Organization for emergency use, or with some other vaccine?
  2. If vaccinated, what evidence do they have proving they received the vaccine?
  3. Are COVID-19 tests meeting the CDC’s guidelines readily available in the country of departure?
  4. For unvaccinated travelers who are not U.S. citizens, are vaccines readily available in their country of departure?  If not, what is their vaccination plan? 
  5. Is the need for travel immediate?


Please do not hesitate to contact our team if you have questions regarding the new COVID-19 prevention protocols for air travelers.

Thank You,
Mayer Brown Global Mobility & Migration

Learn more about our Global Mobility & Migration practice.

Visit us at mayerbrown.com.