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Here's what travelers looking to enter the U.S. from the UK need to know.

By Alison Fox
December 28, 2020
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Travelers flying from the United Kingdom to the United States will now be required to arrive with a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of their flight, according to a new rule from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The new requirement, which went into effect on Sunday, applies to all passengers who are currently eligible to fly from the UK to the U.S., including U.S. citizens. Airlines will be responsible for confirming negative test results before boarding, the CDC said. They'll need to confirm the date the test was collected, the type of test taken, and that the test was in fact negative.

Passengers can choose to get either a nucleic acid amplification test or an antigen test. Travelers with a layover in the UK of less than 24 hours and those who have tested positive and recovered in the three months prior to travel are exempt. Passengers who have recently recovered from COVID-19 must have proof of their prior positive test and a letter from a doctor clearing them to travel.

The rule comes after dozens of countries banned travel from the UK following the discovery of a new, and potentially more contagious, strain of coronavirus. The U.S., however, has resisted a total ban and initially declined to pursue restrictions on travel from the country.

“While it is known and expected that viruses constantly change through mutation leading to the emergence of new variants, preliminary analysis in the UK suggests that the discovered variant may be more transmissible than previously circulating variants, with an estimated potential to increase the transmissibility of the virus by up to 70%,” the CDC wrote as part of its new guidance. “This additional testing requirement will strengthen protection of the American public to improve their health and safety and ensure responsible international travel.”

The new requirements are an expansion of the agreement New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo negotiated with several airlines to test people flying from the UK to New York.

Upon arriving in the U.S., the CDC recommends international travelers get tested three to five days after traveling and self-quarantine for seven days, even if they test negative.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.