DHS requires non-US travelers to be fully vaccinated

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that beginning Saturday it will require non-U.S. individuals hoping to enter the U.S. via land ports of entry and ferry terminals at the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

The individuals will need to provide related proof of vaccination and the restrictions will apply to both those traveling for essential and nonessential reasons.

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The changes were first announced in October 2021 and were made in consultation with the Biden administration and several federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In a news release, the department noted that this action will "align public health measures that govern land travel with those that govern incoming international air travel."

"Starting on January 22, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security will require that non-U.S. individuals entering the United States via land ports of entry or ferry terminals along our northern and southern borders be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and be prepared to show related proof of vaccination," Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. "These updated travel requirements reflect the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to protecting public health while safely facilitating the cross-border trade and travel that is critical to our economy."

The non-U.S. travelers must also present a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant document, like a valid passport, Trusted Traveler Program card or Enhanced Tribal Card.

To reduce wait times, the DHS said travelers can take advantage of the CBP One mobile app and facial biometrics.

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They should also be prepared to present any other relevant documents requested by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer during a border inspection.

The agency added that any non-U.S. individuals attempting to enter the U.S. irregularly – either illegally or without the proper documentation – will "continue to be expelled pursuant to CDC’s Title 42 public health order."

COVID-19 testing is not required for entry via a land port of entry or ferry terminal.

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Conversely, air travelers ages 2 and older – regardless of nationality or vaccination status – are required to show documentation of a negative viral test result taken within one day of the flight’s departure to the U.S. before boarding. 

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Those who recently recovered from the virus may instead travel with documentation of recovery, like a positive COVID-19 viral test result on a sample taken no more than 90 days before the flight's departure from a foreign country and a letter from a licensed health care provider or a public health official stating they are cleared to travel.

Exemptions will be considered on an extremely limited basis. 

The CDC recommends that people do not travel internationally until they are fully vaccinated.

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