A guide for those looking to get out.
Disclaimer: This is meant to be a general overview of how countries are reopening their borders for Americans. Rules differ for other passport holders. Information can and will change quickly, and new requirements (including some that must be completed in advance of travel) may be introduced without notice. Please refer to each country’s website for specifics.
We’re all dreaming of getting away again. We want to eat Thai street food from a cart in a Bangkok soi, admire South Africa’s wildlife and the sites commemorating Nelson Mandela’s fight for democracy and human rights, or just lounge on a Caribbean beach and forget all the stresses of COVID-19.
Even though we want to do these things, the question remains: Yes, you CAN travel, but SHOULD you travel? When figuring out where and when to go, it’s essential to take not only your own safety into consideration but the safety of others, as we outline in Will it be safe to travel when this is all over? Will we even know? Regardless, Americans need to follow the advice of the State Department and CDC, which still advise against all international travel and outlines considerations for travel within the United States.
Information changes frequently, especially as some destinations are basing their rules on reciprocity with other countries. If the U.S. lifts restrictions on travelers from these countries, expect to see changes. Note that some countries are restricting entry on the basis of the passport you carry and others are basing it upon where you’re traveling from, so check governmental information carefully.
We outline below the countries that have already opened to U.S. travelers as well as the countries which announced dates for reopening their borders to Americans, listed alphabetically.
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Antigua and Barbuda
Known for its pink beaches and farm-to-table cuisine, Antigua and Barbuda opened to international travelers on June 4. Requirements are outlined on Antigua and Barbuda’s travel information page, and include a health declaration form and screenings for fever. Tests, if required, cost $100 and results are available within 48 hours. Masks are required in all public areas, including while disembarking from flights.
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Aruba’s phased reopening allowed visitors from a few nearby islands on June 15. Starting July 1, visitors from Canada, Europe, and most Caribbean countries are allowed. Americans are eligible to enter Aruba as of July 10. Aruba.com details the latest on the country’s safety protocols and requirements. Visitors are strongly encouraged to have a COVID test prior to arrival to avoid an in-country test at the visitor’s expense. A health declaration is needed 72 hours before arrival with documentation about health insurance coverage. Masks are required in-flight to Aruba.
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Though private boats and planes were eligible to enter the Bahamas as of June 15, July 1 is the date the Bahamas is considered open to all international visitors arriving by commercial airlines. To enter the Bahamas, visitors will be checked for fever and have to wear a face covering. The country has detailed protocols listed on their website
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A certified negative PCR COVID test within 72 hours of departure is required to enter Bermuda, as is health insurance, a health screening form, and an arrival card. Testing, with an eight- to 24-hour turnaround, is done on arrival. Face masks are to be worn in-flight, in the airport, and in public areas. Details are on the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s site.
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Cambodia, known for the Angkor archeological site, lifted entry restrictions for U.S. travelers on June 11. However, the country has instituted strict COVID measures including that all foreigners pay a $3,000 deposit upon entry to cover costs of COVID testing, room, and board while awaiting test results, as well as related costs if test results are positive. Health insurance with $50,000 in coverage is also required. Details are on the Cambodia Airports’ website.
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Cuba is open to Americans, still for 11 categories of travel other than tourism, as Via Hero outlines. Charter flights are allowed into Cuba as of July 1 and, initially, foreign nationals will be restricted to resort areas in offshore Cayes in Cayo Coco, Cayo Cruz, Cayo Guillermo, Cayo Largo del Sur, and Cayo Santa Maria, as reported by the Havana Times.
Varadero and Havana will first reopen to domestic tourists. New arrivals to the island are subject to temperature checks and COVID PCR tests. Air passengers are only able to bring one checked bag for now. Further lifting of restrictions including more international flights is expected in August.
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The fourth phase of the Dominican Republic’s reopening begins on July 1, when international arrivals via air, sea, and land are allowed. Rules for new arrivals are not yet announced but should be available on GoDomincanRepublic.com. The Dominican Republic and Haiti share the island of Hispaniola, and both countries had some of the Caribbean’s highest COVID cases.
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As of July 1, Egypt is reopening its airports and gradually reopening the country for tourism. Initially, according to VOA, the three coastal provinces will be open for tourists, with Aswan, Cairo, and Luxor following later. COVID testing may be needed for those arriving from countries with high infection rates. Egypt is one of over a dozen countries to receive the Safe Travels Global Safety & Hygiene Stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council.
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French Polynesia’s 118 islands, which include Tahiti, Moorea, and the Marquesas, will be open to international tourists and quarantine lifted as of July 15. Requirements include certification of a negative COVID test (the SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR test) within 72 hours of departure and completion of a Sanitary Entry Form which includes declaring that you’ll follow the government’s health recommendations and orders.
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The “Spice Islands” of Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique are aiming to be open by July 1, making Grand Anse Beach and fresh nutmeg ice cream accessible again. The government announced June 16 that the international airport will be open as of that date. In addition to inter-island flights within the Caribbean, flights from the U.S. and Canada are expected to be first. Testing, if required, will be at a cost of EC$200 (about $75 US). Masks are mandatory at the airport. The Prime Minister makes updates on his Facebook page.
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Ireland is open to travelers, though everyone arriving is subject to a 14-day self-isolation and must fill out the COVID-19 Passenger Locator Form (an exception is people arriving from Northern Ireland). Details are available on Ireland’s Health Services’ website and from the country’s tourism board.
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As of June 15, visitors are again able to enjoy jerk and reggae in Jamaica. In advance of arriving, visitors must apply for a Travel Authorization where health risks are assessed on the day of application. Upon arrival, everyone is screened for fever and other COVID symptoms, and, if needed, there’s additional testing and quarantine. Until June 30, tourists are asked to stay within a COVID-19 Resilient Corridor between Negril and Port Antonio. Face masks in public are required. Detailed information is provided in COVID-19 Ministry of Tourism: Health and Safety Protocols. Hotels are opening gradually, for example, three of Sandals’ six Jamaican resorts should be open by mid-July.
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The 1192 islands of the Maldives will reopen to international tourism on July 15. Foreign nationals will first be allowed only on resort islands, such as Vakkaru Maldives and the Coco Collection, as well as on liveaboard boats. As of August 1, guest houses and hotels on inhabited islands will be allowed to reopen (although some are allowed to host in-transit passengers before then). The government has detailed protocols that include completing a health declaration form.
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Mexico’s West Coast
While the U.S.-Mexico land border remains closed, Americans can fly to several Mexican destinations. Many tourist spots along Mexico’s Pacific coast and the Sea of Cortez opened June 15. This includes the Los Cabos area at the southern end of the Baja California Sur, as well as the smaller cities of La Paz and Loreto on the Sea of Cortez. Further south along the Pacific coast, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, and the Riviera Nayarit are also open.
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Mexico’s Caribbean Coast
The Mexican Caribbean opened June 8 and was the first destination in the Americas to receive the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Safe Travels Global Safety & Hygiene Stamp. The state of Quintana Roo covers much of the Yucatan peninsula’s top tourist areas, including Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and the Riviera Maya. Passengers get their temperature checked at the Cancun airport and need to fill in a questionnaire to identify health risks. Check Quintana Roo’s website for details.
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As a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico was always open to Americans, though a 14-day quarantine is mandatory. The island plans to open to international visitors on July 15. Fever checks take place at the airport. Rules for quarantine after July 15 haven’t yet been announced, but can likely be avoided with the certification of a negative COVID test. Face masks in public areas are mandatory.
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The French island opened to tourists as of June 11. To enter Saint Barth, a negative RT-PCR COVID test taken within three days of departure is needed. Or, visitors may opt for a test within 24 hours of arrival but then must self-isolate at their accommodations until results are confirmed. A second COVID test is required on the seventh day after arriving. The President of the Territorial Council outlined the measures in a press release. Masks are strongly encouraged.
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The U.S. was the first country eligible to enter St. Lucia, with U.S. flights allowed as of June 4. A certified negative COVID test within 48 hours of departure is required. Health screenings, such as fever checks, may take place upon arrival. Face masks are needed in public areas, including on the plane. Details are on Saint Lucia’s website.
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Saint Martin and Sint Maarten
The French-Dutch island known as the Friendly Island officially reopens July 1, when the main airport, on the Dutch side, opens to commercial passenger flights. Information is on both the Saint Martin and Sint Maarten websites. Inter-island flights to neighboring countries resumed earlier, as did some ferry connections. Mask use in public is mandatory.
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Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
The 32 islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines were never officially closed. For the month of July, anyone arriving at the islands is required to have a PCR COVID-19 test on arrival and remain in quarantine until negative test results have been confirmed. There are a few exceptions. For example, quarantine can be avoided with documentation showing a recent negative antibody test and a negative PCR test. Arrivals from some neighboring Caribbean countries only need to complete a health questionnaire. Details are on the health department’s website.
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Serbia is known for its excellent café culture, spas, bustling capital Belgrade, and one of the prettiest spots on the Danube, near the town of Golubac. Serbia opened for international tourists on May 22, with the same rules as existed pre-pandemic. Mask use is encouraged when in indoor areas. Serbia updates its COVID information, including new cases and testing during the past 24 hours, on its main COVID website. Curious about Serbia? Check out this mysterious 2,000-year-old archaeological find in Kostolac.
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Sri Lanka, with its spectacular wildlife and gorgeous views, is planning to reopen August 1. Proposed government guidelines are some of the strictest COVID-prevention measures in the world. First, a certificate showing the traveler has a negative COVID test within 72 hours of boarding is needed. Upon arrival in Sri Lanka, travelers will then be given a COVID test at the airport as well as follow-up tests on day four and day ten of their stay (at their hotel; only select hotels will be available to international tourists). Visitors won’t be able to take public transportation and are obliged to download a tracing app.
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According to reports, Tanzania was one of the first countries to reopen to tourism. On June 6, CGTN reported that tourist facilities on the two islands of Zanzibar were fully open. Tanzania has temperature checks upon entry and asks that everyone wear masks. The government issued standard operating procedures for the tourism industry.
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Tunisia is famous for its ruins and antiquities, particularly in the Bardo Museum which has been called the “Louvre of Africa”. The north African country and its popular beaches opened to tourism on June 27. Tunisia’s Anti-COVID Health Protocols for Tourism are outlined on Discover Tunisia’s website.
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Flights between Turkey and the U.S. were allowed again as of mid-June, and Turkey is now open to travelers of all nationalities. COVID symptoms are checked on arrival and information to allow contact tracing must be provided. Passengers may be tested for COVID and may face quarantine. Face masks are required in public with fines in place for non-compliance. As before the pandemic, advance application for e-visas is required for U.S. passport holders. There’s no word yet on new protocols for Turkey’s famous hammams.
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Turks and Caicos
Private and commercial flights to Turks and Caicos from the U.S., Europe, and Canada will be allowed as of July 22. Protocols are still being determined and will be available on TurksAndCaicosTourism.com. Turks and Caicos has about 40 different islands, including eight main islands. Most U.S. visitors fly to the island of Providenciales, which has one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, Grace Bay Beach. Beachfront accommodations there include Ocean Club Resorts.
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The United Kingdom
The U.K. is open, however, as of June 8, almost all new arrivals into the U.K. must self-isolate for 14 days. New arrivals are also required to provide border officials with contact details and the address of where they will spend their isolation period. Exceptions include Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. Details are explained on Gov.UK’s COVID website.
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U.S. Virgin Islands
Americans were always able to visit the U.S. Virgin Islands’ three islands. However, until June 1, visits were restricted for business purposes rather than for tourism and a 14-day quarantine was required. As of June 1, Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas are all open, although with the same restrictions that apply to the mainland United States (i.e. no entry to foreign nationals who have been in China, Iran, Europe, the U.K., Ireland, and Brazil within the previous 14 days). Visitors are screened for fever and asked to ensure they have their own masks, wipes, and a sanitizer, as detailed on Visit USVI‘s website. Wearing masks in public is required.