The United States has long been a popular holiday destination for Brits. But there are currently severe restrictions on entry to the country for people travelling from Great Britain.
If you’re hoping to visit the US in the near future, here are the latest rules, along with pointers on how to take out all-important travel cover for your journey.
Entry to the US
UK travellers will not be allowed entry to the US unless they meet the requirements for exemption, which state that you must be:
* an American citizen
* a permanent resident of the US
* a specified close family member of the above
* in a limited category of visa holder (such as UN staff or diplomat).
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that travellers arriving in the US should:
* get a Covid test no more than 3 days before their departure
* present a negative result or documentation of recovery from Covid-19 to their airline.
The UK’s proof of Covid-19 recovery and vaccination record are not currently accepted in the US.
Travellers who have been fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or World Health Organisation (WHO), and travellers who are unvaccinated, should get tested for the virus 3 to 5 days after travel, with the latter self-quarantining for a full 7 days after arrival.
Travellers who have recovered from a documented COVID-19 infection within the last 3 months, should follow the rules for fully vaccinated travellers, except they do not need to get tested 3 to 5 days after travel unless they are symptomatic.
All travellers should follow state and local guidelines for the specific area of the US they are entering, which can be found on the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Currently masks must be worn on aircraft, trains, buses and at airports across the US.
What else do I need to travel to the US?
Those travelling to the US from other areas should have a visa, or in most cases will be eligible for an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) visa waiver, at a cost of $14.
Refer to the US State Department website to find out which you will need.
Contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the US for further information on rules of entry.
You can check that your travel documents meet the necessary requirements for travel to the US, with your airline or travel company.
Once in the US
While hotels are reopening they, and other public places such as shops, restaurants and bars, are following the rules and regulations of their local authorities, in relation to Covid-19.
Returning to the UK from the US
Since 19 July 2020, fully NHS-vaccinated travellers returning to the UK from destinations on the amber list, such as the US, have not needed to quarantine. They can now follow the same rules as those returning from destinations on the green list.
* get a negative Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test 72 hours before their return departure. If they test positive they should not travel.
* book and pay for a Covid-19 test (before travelling) to be taken on or before day 2 after arrival in the UK (arrival day is day 0).
Returning travellers will not need to quarantine unless they receive a positive test result. They can prove their vaccination status via their NHS Covid Pass (England and Wales), NHS letters (Scotland) or Covid certificate (Northern Ireland).
Travellers who are not fully NHS-vaccinated and are returning from the US to the UK should:
* quarantine at home or another location for a period of 10 days
* book and pay for Covid-19 tests (before travelling) to be taken on or before day 2, and also on day 8 after arriving in the UK (arrival day is day 0).
There is also the option of ‘Test to Release’ where those who have returned to the UK (with the exception of Wales) can pay for a private Covid-19 test on day 5 of their return and potentially end quarantine early.
Follow the link to find out more about the UK government’s traffic light system for destinations worldwide.
Taking out travel insurance for the US
Travelling to the US requires a specific type of travel insurance policy with a sufficiently high level of cover to act as a financial safety net if a problem were to arise. Emergency medical costs alone can easily stack up to tens of thousands of dollars in the US so, while travel insurance is not a legal requirement, such protection can be extremely useful.
Here’s what to look out for when choosing travel insurance for the US:
What is travel insurance for the US?
When choosing a policy, look out for worldwide cover that includes the US, Canada and the Caribbean.
Then, decide what type of policy you need. Options include a single trip policy for a one-off holiday, or an annual policy which will cover you for multiple trips to various destinations within the space of 12 months.
Alternatively, you can choose backpacker insurance for a longer period of travel to numerous destinations, including the US.
What’s covered under travel insurance for the US?
Typically, travel insurance policies will cover you for the following as standard:
* Medical expenses for treatment, medical bills and repatriation costs should you fall ill or get injured while you’re away
* Cancellation costs if an emergency means you are forced to cancel your holiday
* Lost or stolen possessions in the event that your personal belongings, baggage or money are damaged, lost or stolen
* Disruption and delays to cover the costs of cancelled flights
* Personal liability for compensation claims made against you for damaging someone else’s property or causing injury or death.
Types and levels of cover vary depending on policy. If your policy does not include all of the above, your insurer may be able to add the cover you need, potentially at an additional cost.
Remember to check your policy details for limitations and exclusions, such as a cap on the number of items for which you can make a lost and stolen possessions claim.
What else is there to consider when travelling to the US?
Depending on your insurer, you will also be able to add various other types of extra cover to your policy. This ranges from cover for risks related to extreme sports and activities to end supplier failure or scheduled airline failure cover, in case your holiday company or airline goes bust.
But remember as always, your insurer will expect you to ask your holiday provider or airline for compensation before making a claim. It’s only if your request is rejected that you should claim on your insurance.
Package holidays may be certified ATOL- or ABTA-protected, which means you’d be provided with financial compensation if something were to go wrong.
When will I not be covered if travelling to the US?
While non-essential travel to the US is currently permitted by the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), it’s best to check the status of your destination as close to your departure as possible, as the FCDO regularly updates its advice.
Going to a destination where the FCDO advises against ‘all but essential’ travel can invalidate your policy.
Very few insurers will protect you if you travel against the FCDO’s advice. These include CoverForYou, Cedar Tree and Outbacker.
What is an excess?
You will need to make a set payment towards any claim you make - usually £50 or £100. This is called the excess or deductible.
Some policies charge a single excess for each claim, while others charge the excess for each person listed on the policy, which is potentially more expensive. However, a higher excess may result in lower premiums.
Some policies offer an ‘excess waiver’ option, where you pay a single amount to remove the imposition of any excess if a claim is made.
What about Covid-19?
It is now common practice for insurers to cover at least medical expenses and repatriation costs for Covid-19-related risks, in the event you fall ill with the virus while on holiday and need to return to the UK early.
Cover often extends to cancellation due to Covid-19-related risks too, should, for example, you or a member of your party contract the virus before your departure date and need to quarantine.
As with non Covid-related risks, accepted reasons for claims vary between insurers, so make sure to check these when purchasing your cover.
Finding the right travel insurance policy for the US
Use a travel insurance comparison tool such as ours to easily compare policies catered to your trip to the US.