Check U.S. Entry Travel Restrictions and Traveling with ESTA Application During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted international travel, including entry into the United States. As of 2024, the U.S. has made several adjustments to its travel policies in response to the evolving situation. This article provides an overview of the current U.S. entry travel restrictions and guidelines for travelers with an ESTA application during COVID-19.

Current U.S. Entry Requirements

As of May 12, 2023, noncitizen nonimmigrant visitors to the U.S., arriving by air or by land or sea, are no longer required to show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Furthermore, as of June 12, 2022, individuals entering the U.S. do not need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test​​​​.

Visa and ESTA Application Process

The Department of State is working to lower visa interview wait times worldwide, following closures during the pandemic. By 2023, the U.S. had resumed normal visa processing operations, with 96% of its embassies and consulates interviewing visa applicants. Nonimmigrant visa applications are being processed at 94% of pre-pandemic monthly averages, and immigrant visa applications at 130%​​.

For travelers under the Visa Waiver Program using an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization), the process remains streamlined. However, these travelers must comply with the current entry requirements, including any COVID-19 related guidelines.

Land Port of Entry or Ferry Terminal Entry

For non-U.S. travelers entering the United States through land ports of entry (POEs) or ferry terminals, there are specific requirements:

  • Proof of an approved COVID-19 vaccination as outlined on the CDC website.
  • A verbal attestation to their COVID-19 vaccination status during border inspection.
  • Required border crossing documents, such as a valid passport or visa, if necessary.
  • Children under 18 years of age are exempted from the vaccination requirement at land and ferry POEs​​.

Exemptions and Special Cases

There are narrow exemptions to the vaccination requirement, including certain diplomatic or official foreign government travels, children under 18, individuals with medical contraindications to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, and other specified cases​​.

Considerations for U.S. Citizens Traveling Abroad

U.S. citizens traveling to other countries should check with the Department of State for specific travel advisories and the CDC’s guidance for safer international travel.


The U.S. travel policies during the COVID-19 pandemic are subject to change based on the global health situation. Travelers, including those using ESTA for visa-free travel, should stay informed about the latest travel advisories and entry requirements. It’s crucial to check the most current information from official sources like the U.S. Department of State, the CDC, and the Department of Homeland Security before planning a trip to the United States.