The COVID-19 crisis has changed almost everything in our lives, especially the way we travel. Since the U.S. has the most coronavirus cases and deaths in the world, many other countries have closed their borders to U.S. passport holders, including most of Latin America, Europe and Asia. Those countries that are open to U.S. passport holders usually require either a negative COVID-19 test before arrival or a 14-day quarantine for all Americans. But as case counts go down in parts of the U.S., travel policies are changing: some countries are making reopening protocols state-by-state.
Some countries are allowing travelers from the U.S. to enter without quarantining or getting tested, but only if they live in certain states where COVID-19 is considered controlled. Here’s what we know so far about state-specific travel restrictions, as of August 27th, and we expect travel policies to continue to evolve based on COVID data in the coming weeks and months.
Where Can Americans From Low Risk States Travel Without a Quarantine?
As of September 1, Costa Rica will become the first country to open borders for specific U.S. states. In order to bring in U.S. tourists, who are a major driver of the Costa Rican economy, without risking a coronavirus spike, the country is allowing travelers from just 6 states in the Northeast to enter the country (where coronavirus cases are stable or trending downward). Travelers will need a negative COVID-19 test, travel insurance, and a driver’s license that proves residency in an approved state. The approved states for entering Costa Rica as a tourist are:
- New York
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
Together, these 6 states make up about 10% of the population of the U.S. Millions of U.S. citizens will now be able to travel to Costa Rica for leisure, as long as they can prove their residency and that they do not have COVID-19. There are direct flights to Costa Rica from many American cities, including New York City.
Where Can Americans From Low-Risk States Enter Without a Test?
Although Costa Rica is the first country to ban travelers from certain U.S. states outright, they’re not the first country to have different policies for Americans depending on the state where they live.
The Caribbean island of Aruba was one of the first countries to reopen to U.S. travelers. Some people are allowed to enter the country without a prior COVID-19 test, and are only tested upon arrival in the country. Travelers from high-risk U.S. states, however, have to take a test within 72 hours of departure and then again upon arrival in the country. Aruba considers the following states “high risk”:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
If you don't live in one of the high-risk states, you will just need to be tested on arrival in Aruba. You may still choose to get tested before you leave, but you won't be required to.
Jamaica, a popular destination with American tourists for its beautiful beaches and laid-back culture, has similar policies to Aruba. Tests are not required at all, before arrival or in the country, for most travelers as long as they stay in approved tourist areas. But for travelers coming from certain U.S. states that are considered high-risk by the Jamaican government, a negative test result is required for entry. The list is updated regularly, but as of August 27th, the states Jamaica considers high-risk are:
- New York
Visitors from these areas are required to take a nasal swab COVID-19 test within 10 days of their arrival in Jamaica.
Will Other Countries Follow Suit?
It’s very possible other countries will begin to open up to certain U.S. states and not others. In parts of the U.S, metrics like positivity rates for the coronavirus are showing well controlled spread. In other areas, especially the South, case counts are still very high.
Different states have vastly different policies about enforcing masks, social distancing and other coronavirus protocols, which impacts the level of spread in a community. If your state has stable or downward trending cases, it’s possible you’ll soon be able to travel more easily, as long as you have proof of residency.
Our team here at Skip is carefully monitoring the reopening protocols of countries around the world to help you plan for future travel safely. You can enroll in safe travel alerts with us, and we can help you renew your passport easily with our door-to-door passport renewal. Many countries require 6 months of validity on a passport in order to enter, so if you are in a low-risk state and plan on traveling any time within the next year, make sure your passport is up to date. We will be posting updates on travel news here on our blog, so check back frequently for the latest information.