Report: Biden To Lift Travel Restrictions In Mid-May

Filed Under: Travel

While nothing is official yet, we now have a sense of when the US travel restrictions currently in place could be lifted.

US could lift border restrictions in mid-May

It’s being reported that the Biden administration is looking at lifting many border restrictions currently in place around the middle of May 2021, so that’s potentially under two months from now. The White House is apparently considering lifting the following travel restrictions:

  • Travel across the land borders with Canada and Mexico
  • Inbound international travel from the UK, European Union, and Brazil

As of now there’s no mention of:

The Brazil, China, European Union, and United Kingdom travel bans were all put in place by Trump, while the South Africa travel ban and pre-travel testing requirement were put in place by Biden.

An anonymous senior administration official said the following about this development:

“There is going to be a sea change in mid-May when vaccines are more widely available to everyone.”

As you can see, the timeline is based on the hope that vaccines will be available to all American adults by May 2021.

In a way I’m surprised by the timeline here — the general hope is that all Americans who want a vaccine will have immunity by July or so, given that it can take six weeks from when you get your first dose until you develop maximum immunity from your second dose.

Personally I’d consider this to be a fantastic development. The US borders have been closed to so many people for a year now, and in many cases these aren’t just tourists, but rather people in long-distance relationships, etc.

More people could be allowed to visit the US starting in May

Will other countries lift restrictions against Americans?

While it sounds like the US will be lifting most travel restrictions in several weeks, it’s important to understand that this benefits non-Americans looking to travel to the US, rather than Americans trying to travel abroad.

It’s anyone’s guess if & when the current travel restrictions in place against Americans will be lifted:

  • Brazil has no ban against Americans, so there’s nothing to undo there
  • The UK doesn’t explicitly ban Americans, but rather those coming from the US (and many other countries) have to quarantine upon arrival, like anyone else from a “high-risk” area does; the UK plans to allow travel no earlier than May 17, so I guess in some way those timelines could match up
  • Canada does ban Americans, and given the current vaccine rollout in Canada, I wouldn’t necessarily expect Canada to reciprocate immediately
  • The European Union has banned visitors from a vast majority of countries, so the US isn’t being singled out

It’s absolutely possible that we’ll see some form of reciprocity, but personally I wouldn’t count on a May timeline for Americans being able to visit Canada, the European Union, or the United Kingdom, without restrictions.

It’s anyone’s guess when Americans can visit the UK again without quarantine

Bottom line

It’s being reported that Biden intends to end the current border restrictions that are in place for Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Mexico, and the United Kingdom, around mid-May 2021.

This hasn’t been publicly announced yet, so I wouldn’t go booking any non-refundable travel, but it’s at least great to know what the White House is thinking as of now. How exciting to think that within several weeks these restrictions could come to an end, allowing people to visit the US.

With this, hopefully we also see more destinations open to Americans, though I wouldn’t necessarily count on the same timeline.

What do you make of the timeline for the US lifting current border restrictions?

  1. Very good. We need to world to start turning again and to regain our right to travel the world.

  2. More important than the timeline speculation is the fact the US is establishing a process — similar to that of the EU — to evaluate COVID-19 epidemiological issues in foreign countries on a weekly basis. That system is an important prerequisite for reciprocal reopening of the borders.

  3. For now, it’s best to stick to booking no-deposit hotels and flexible mileage/voucher airline tickets. It is still too early to buy speculative tickets/hotel stays with real dollars.

  4. Hi Ben – think you just need to update where you say the uk isn’t allowing non-essential travel – this is mid may rather than June.

    Here’s hoping that Biden will stick to the timescale so I can head over to the states to see my girlfriend 🙂

  5. They should do away with the testing requirement on returning to the US if you have been fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the US and are not symptomatic.

  6. UK plans say international travel may restart in mid May too (not mid June as per your message above).

    Can’t wait to be able to travel again!!

  7. Great… now the US is going to become a major vaccine tourism destination for frustrated Europeans. The proof to show US residency that is required is pretty minimal and easy to fake. (In New York, you just have to send a piece of mail to yourself at a New York address…)

  8. Mid-May would be a mistake. Because…look at Spring Break, and every major holiday that involves mass travel over the past year. Each have been directly followed 10-14 days later by clear spikes in covid infections (and that was when people were told not to travel…people routinely ignored it and the consequences were clear).

    If the data looks good in mid-May, it would be a lot smarter to unleash the hounds on June 1st, right after the Memorial Day 3-day weekend.

  9. Too early. Wait another month. Many will come to get the free vaccine before the US population has been fully vaccinated. Given how Brazil is handling COVID, and potential variants, I am surprised about removing the travel restrictions mid-May.

  10. I believe they should only allow fully vaccinated people to travel until the pandemic is under full control. That would cut down on vaccine tourism. Not sure why we would want to let more potential covid cases with maybe new variants into the country. Require vaccinations for travel and open the borders. I totally agree people will come here for the vaccine from other countries. Canadians are coming into NY to get the vaccine and taking up the slots of people who live here. Honestly though in mid-may don’t expect other countries to open their arms to Americans. We have rising covid case counts in 15 states. People are acting like this is over and its not. We seem to be heading into yet another surge with a more infectious variant.

  11. I highly doubt Brazil will be lifted. I imagine it will go well into the fall before we see Aventura flooded with Brazilian shoppers again.

  12. This seems questionable. But if true – probably can consider it an indication that widespread vaccine availability in the US will come before May.

    *I just scheduled a vaccine appointment for 4 days from now. And I’m healthy and in my mid 30s (i.e. general public). Vaccine availability is changing FAST.

  13. “I believe they should only allow fully vaccinated people to travel until the pandemic is under full control…”

    Bill above is spot-on.

    Far too many people won’t take the vaccine. It’s time to incentive vaccinations.

    Nobody flys or gets on public transit or enters a government building or a bar or restaurant or attends a sporting event or concert or etc etc unless vaccinated.

    The pandemic won’t be beaten until everyone has compelling reasons to be vaccinated. Once availability exceeds demand (June? July?) then it’s time to start phasing in proof of vaccination as a requirement for EVERYTHING. Give that some time (maybe 12/12/2021?) and then crack down, no exceptions unless a real medical exemption (no emotional support animals) can be demonstrated and shown.

  14. Given that the previous administration blocked the sale of PPE and vaccines to Canada and that the current administration has vaccine coming out of the ying-yang yet still will not allow Pfizer to cross the border – I wouldn’t hold your breath. I mean, what are friends and allies for?

    Your current administration reneged on a contract to allow the construction of Keystone XL (when all permits are in place) at a cost of $1.5 Billion to Canada and then a governor is blocking lIne 5 and is trying to block line 3 across the border. The end result is the loss of thousands of jobs in the US, a lack of energy to the NE US from the normal Canadian sources and the incredibly huge increase in oil from those friendly democracies Saudi, Venezuela, Russia and Iran to make up the energy shortfall. But what are allies and friends for?

    Because of the lack of vaccine (the EU did us no favours either) and an incredibly incompetent Prime Minister Canada is probably #58 in the world for vaccine rollout. If I was an American why would I want to travel to Canada anyway? Our infection rate by the fall will be enormous. Probably safer to travel to Mexico.

  15. Agreed on vaccinations. I think if parents are vaccinated children should be able enter with a test though. Obviously vaccines are not approved for children yet.

  16. When countries lift the pre-travel testing and quarantine in both directions, I’ll be dancing in the street. The quarantines are deal breakers for most travelers.

  17. Good to see the USA rolling out vaccines fast and having a pathway returning to normal.

    Here in Koalastan, our government is just interested in keeping closed borders and population on welfare forever with no interest in a fast vaccine rollout program. Fast becoming the North Korea of the South Pacific.

  18. While “free” vaccine is theoretically possible for foreign travelers if they jump thru the right hoops, why would they spend thousands on air tickets, hotels, food, visa, etc. and risk infection on the plane just to save $100 on a vaccine back home? Vaccine is available to all (ages) in Alaska now; but is anyone traveling there (even w/ miles?) from the lower 48 just to jump the line?

  19. In the UK 17th May is the earliest date foreign travel can resume and is predicated on the results of a review to be relealed on 12th April. It will also depend on other countries openign their borders with out restrictions as well

    The 21st June date is the anticipated date when all restrictions will be lifted.

    It’s good that the US is looking at opening its borders to travellers but whether travellers will want to come is a difeferent matter when you have different states imposing different restrictions which will make it confusing.

  20. And “Dick Bupkiss” go hide in your basement. And Bill, lucky for the world- thats gonna be a nope.

  21. The August trip I have booked to Mykonos and Tel Aviv looks increasingly possible. Its (pretty much) all flex, so easy to cancel: but glad I have it locked in.

    As the US vaccination levels rise, it’ll also become an important source of supply, including to the EU.

  22. Not really much of a change apart from the land border with Mexico. It will make it easier for Europeans, Brazilians, etc. to visit the US but even today they can easily visit as long as they fly via a third country or combination of countries where they have spend at least 14 days. The US policy is very different from many nations that explicitly ban US citizens even if they are residents of other countries and have not been in the US.

  23. Personally I expect US and UK will open borders for each other by July. Both countries are doing well with vaccination program. Vaccine passports would be definitely helpful – to avoid unnecessary testing etc. I booked flight to San Diego in October – fingers crossed!

  24. Once anyone who wants a vaccine can get one, why should there be any restrictions at all? And for people who are already vaccinated, why should a country deny them entry?

    I live in Canada. It is bonkers to me that my vaccinated US parents cannot visit us here. What is the supposed danger? And what would be different in April or May or December?

    Iceland and Seychelles and a number of others have the only sensible policy: open the borders to the vaccinated, open everything internally once vaccines are available to all who want them. In the US, by mid-April, vaccines will be available to literally anyone who wants one: I know some states say otherwise, but we have the announced vaccine deliveries already, and they are being too cautious in announcing the obvious. The vaccines are *highly* protective even two weeks in, even if the maximum effectiveness does not occur until a couple weeks after the second dose (for Pfizer/Moderna).

  25. I can see the Biden administration rolling out a travel corridor scheme rather than a full unlock. UK- US along with US- Canada will be some of the first countries to open up with reciprocal arrangements in place and most likely by mid May as reported.

  26. Anyone claiming only fully vaccinated people should be allowed to travel, etc., are ignoring the science…and I mean that seriously.
    The University of Arizona has been conducting a long term study on people who recovered from COVID there, having tracked over 30k people. They have found that in even mild cases, antibody production continued for 5 to 7 months, and that doesn’t factor in T-Cell and B-Cell memory to produce more antibodies if needed to fight another infection.
    If you’ve been making the argument of widespread asymptomatic COVID, then it’s immensely likely that most people already have antibodies and the immune memory to fight off another infection, and thus herd immunity can be achieved without mandating the vaccine for literally everything.
    I would advise those advocating a vaccine-only approach to read the FULL science. Go read the NIH studies. Go read the University of Arizona studies.
    I would also point out, while a little different than the current SARS-COV-2, people who had the the original SARS coronavirus in the early 2000s were found to have T-cell reactions to the current SARS-COV-2. that shows you that there is a real probability of lasting protection from natural immunity.

  27. Canada is in the middle of the THIRD WAVE.

    We are at about 5% vaccinations – so far since December we have vaccinated less than 1 day of the US vaccinations total.

    By Mid May you DON’T WANT TO COME TO CANADA because of the Third Wave.

    Travel to the UK instead. Warmer and less covid.

    We’ll also be in the middle of an election with the streets overflowing in merde.

  28. It’s great the USA has a *real*and *legitimate* president and administration who care about the health of *all* Americans, and not just their base.

  29. ” The end result is the loss of thousands of jobs in the US, a lack of energy to the NE US from the normal Canadian sources and the incredibly huge increase in oil from those friendly democracies Saudi, Venezuela, Russia and Iran to make up the energy shortfall. ”

    You know this has been studied and it would create less than 2,000 temporary construction jobs and once built the total jobs it created? 35. That EPA studies showed it would not lower petrol prices or effect energy dependence. Trump wasn’t a king and he engaged in a massive overreach of power when it came to this pipeline. Biden just put things back the way it should have been. The oil companies knew Trump was engaging in a power grab that they could get burned on. I have zero sympathy for them.

  30. The Biden administration chose to maintain Trump-initiated bans, so it’s not entirely accurate to suggest the Biden administration didn’t want to ban travelers from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland & Brazil.

    “On January 25, 2021 President Biden signed a proclamation continuing the suspension of entry of certain travelers from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Brazil, and expanding restrictions to include travelers from South Africa.”

  31. @Will

    It’s all very confusing. Canada was the first country in the world to pre-order the vaccine, they ordered 400m+ vaccines, which is huge relative to their population, so I don’t understand the delay for them. Perhaps the issue is that they don’t actually manufacture pharmaceuticals in Canada, and now the shipments are being blocked/inhibited (but I do have friends in Canada who have been vaccinated).

    I technically qualify in the US, but I live in heavily populated California/Los Angeles, and can’t find an appointment for the vaccine.

    C’est la vie.

    I have millions of air miles to use, and once I get the vaccine and borders open to my preferred destinations…I’ll be on the first plane!

  32. I am scheduled for a vaccine. Hopefully by summer, other sensible places open up, and you bet your house I will be booking some sweet, sweet travel redemptions while the Dick Bupkisses of the world cry inside their mom’s basement wrapped in their security blanket.

  33. @Leigh- right there with you! Guess my comment was taken down- no idea why. If Lucky wants, I can properly cite things in APA format with linked articles… Maybe it was disparaging Germany

  34. @leigh

    It seems like our Canadian PM was only interested in the political value of the announcement and didn’t bother to write a delivery date into the contract.

    Canada is the only country in the world to be delaying the second shot for 140 days so he can have a positive spin by the Election in May (?)

  35. Two questions!

    1) Where is the proof that a fully vaccinated person *can’t* contract and spread the virus?

    2) How long does the vaccination last?


  36. There have been 3 major strategies in dealing with the pandemic.
    1. Let it rip (herd immunity) as seen in USA, India, Brazil, UK , Sweden and some other places.

    2. The “scientific ” approach of opening and shutting as seen in continental Europe (and maybe Canada) . The theory is to keep hospital inpatient numbers at mitigated levels.

    3. The shut the borders to anybody and everybody approach and quarantine anyone who comes in. As seen in most western Pacific nations and most of South East Asia.

    Each have good and bad points. But generally people living in any given regime tend to support that strategy and rubbish alternative strategies.

    It is on the face of it, appropriate that the USA will open first to countries which share its strategy. Brazil, Mexico, UK etc.

    Then there are all sorts of things to upset that. Brazil is still in deep trouble with infection rates, so tourism might not be top of their agenda. Some continental Europe countries are in financial trouble (aka bankruptcy) and desperately need US tourist dollars.

    Then again, the Biden administration is poking a stick at Russia , North Korea and China , so the future might not be all that rosy. May is a long time away….

  37. That only applies if you are flying and have a visa. Anyone can just walk across the southern border (even with Covid) and get offer you free healthcare and a path to citizenship.

  38. @James

    Pfizer was on the news last night in our venue indicating that there seems to be “some evidence” that Pfizer is providing protection against asymptomatic re-infections. This is good but still in the early stages.

    The jury is definitely out regarding how long the vaccines will last and if a booster will be needed next year (like the annual flu shots)

    There is still no definitive evidence that ‘herd immunity’ will work.

    All we really have is hope.

  39. Biden is sending over a million doses of AstraZenca each to Canada and Mexico. The US is sitting on a stock pile of tens of millions of doses of AstraZenca. AstraZenca will probably never ask for FDA approval due to their flawed trials. How does a vaccine loose 40% effectiveness after the 2nd dose? At any rate we will probably give it all to other countries.

  40. Let’s be clear here: International travel will only be viable for the typical traveler once any type of testing requirement is removed. Otherwise, int’l travel will remain a crapshoot where you will have a 1-3% chance of being stranded somewhere along your journey, whether due to false or true results, vaccinated or not.

  41. I have booked a trip for nov/ dec to France, Morocco, Qatar and Italy. I would be surprised if any of these countries will still be in a lockdown/ refuse tourists. I guess only time will tell. Crossing my fingers and toes. So many trips from last year and this spring had already been cancelled…

  42. So I am currently in South Africa and I have a valid h2b visa untill the end of May and would just like to know when I can be able to travel to the US ?

  43. It is impossible for Biden to open borders for Brazilians soon. We have a psychopathic president who says that whoever wears a mask is gay and whoever takes the vaccine turns into a crocodile.

  44. I am in Canada and most of my friends live in the USA. I am incredibly sick of these restrictions. Canada needs to get with the times and start planning to open. Instead all we here is ‘eventually but not anytime soon’. I am losing hope for the Canadian border even opening this year. I hope I am wrong. I can’t wait to go to the USA again. This gives me a bit of hope but I can’t see Canada agreeing. Here we are being told even in the summer to just expect small bubbles same as last summer. Abundance of caution, continued mask wearing and distancing blah blah blah well into late this year. I can’t stand to hear about it anymore. When do people get to make their own decisions and access their own risk? There is also the issue that Canadians have become mean and judgemental about basically anything covid related. Even mention you want to travel this and people are horrified.

  45. Azamaraal simply lists the continual Canadian perspective of Blame America for Canada’s problems. Trudeau has been disaster in the vaccine response stoking daily fear in Canada. For this reason, even when the US is 150 percent vaccinated, Canada will continue to blame the US for COVID and most of its woes…..

  46. Eliza, I’m Canadian and have flown to the United States several times. I am currently in Miami, Florida where restrictions are similar to Vancouver (my home)… Where a mask in the gym and in stores. But much of my family and friends are in Ontario where lockdowns have been harsh and are driving most people nuts…

    And the inept vaccine response at both the federal and provincial level has only made things worse.

    Wishing you some travel soon!

  47. @Trey: It’s not about money, it’s about the vaccine. Here in Europe you simply can’t get a vaccine, not for a 100$, not for a 1m$. Period. So that’s why we Europeans start looking elsewhere … a couple of thousand $ for a six week trip (2 weeks in Morocco or Turkey plus 4 weeks on the US) seem well spent.

  48. they should re open NOW! for European who have properties, business etc in the US it s been much too long away
    vaccines, tests , masks makes airport and planes Virusfree now!

  49. i genuinely think this decision is good for the economics and to all people who haven’t seen their family or whatever for a while. But to keep the cases decreasing in the US, every travel should be tested negative before taking the plane.

  50. I hope everyone can get vaccinated soon so that my boyfriend from Austria can come see me!

  51. Not soon enough. It’s nice to see that the US at least isnt sleeping like our leaders here in Canada are, but I think now’s the time to start slowly lifting restrictions and then have the border wide open in mid May. We cant listen to ignorant people that want to keep it closed, they have no conscience of any kind and it really is very sad. So yeah, I’d say it’s not soon enough.

  52. Hi Ben, I believe that Trump and his CDC were the ones who announced the international testing requirements, though they were indeed only implemented after he left office. In that sense, Biden did implement them, but it would be inaccurate to say that there were no plans for that until Biden came into office. Indeed, the testing requirements were in part meant as a replacement for lifting the travel ban. Biden kept the testing requirements but reversed the lift of the travel ban. I’m not a fan of the former president, but he did do it.

  53. Really hoping the US opens to UK travellers mid-May. I haven’t seen my partner in over a year and it’s truly been horrible.

  54. So whoever thinks mid may is too early to open the border have no idea that their family has not been able to meet for yearss becoz of this stupid ban USEmabassy in madrid are not processing k1 fiance visa just becoz of stupid dumb proclamation. so plz luk at the surrounding wats going on and then copy paste ur useless views. They shud have allowed us citizens family including fiancee from this travel list countries to come to united states using all safety n testing measures like pcr n all other bs. I m tired of this politics . Americans need to understand the family values watssoever.

  55. From the list:

    “India – Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

    Exercise Increased Caution to India due to COVID-19, crime, and terrorism.

    Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 2 Travel Health Notice for India due to COVID-19.

    Most transportation options (such as airports and land/sea borders) are open. Businesses are operating, although some restrictions may be in place. Quarantine measures or entry restrictions are in place for certain U.S. citizen travelers. Visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in India.

    Do not travel to:

    The state of Jammu and Kashmir (except the eastern Ladakh region and its capital, Leh) due to terrorism and civil unrest.
    Within 10 km of the India-Pakistan border due to the potential for armed conflict.
    Indian authorities report rape is one of the fastest growing crimes in India. Violent crime, such as sexual assault, has occurred at tourist sites and in other locations.

    Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and government facilities.”

    Based on India’s Covid cases, terrorism and rape I would have thought Level 4 would be the recommendation. Sounds like politics getting in the way.

  56. Has there been any update since this article was first published? I saw that travel ban to Mexico and Canada has been extended to May 20, 2021 but what about Europe?

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