These 4 Hugely Popular Destinations Still Require Unvaccinated Americans To Get Tested In 2023
Most of the world already treats Covid as an endemic virus and welcomes unvaccinated travelers in spite of their immunization status. As of now, they can enter over 140 countries completely restriction-free. On the other hand, there are 4 hugely popular destinations yet to lift their health checks fully, and that continue to require tests in lieu of a vaccine pass:
Having cordoned off its borders for most of the crisis, banning all international travel, we found it hard to believe Japan would reopen for tourism so soon, but it did. Americans – as well as any foreign nationals and non-Japanese residents – are no longer banned from entering the country, but this does not mean all border rules were axed overnight.
Japanese authorities seem to be taking a more cautious approach, and instead of lifting regulations all at once, they have exempted triple-vaccinated passengers only from testing. All other passengers, including those who have received two shots, but not a booster, must undertake a PCR test within 72 hours of their Japan-bound flight.
As further punishment, Americans who do not qualify as fully immunized per Japan’s rules will lose access to ‘Fast Track’, which allows tourists to register their information online for streamlined border control upon landing in Tokyo Narita, Haneda, or any of the main entry points. Instead, their documents will be checked thoroughly by an agent once arriving.
Although this might serve as an impediment to bureaucracy-wary Americans, it has not stopped the demand for travel to Japan from skyrocketing since the reopening announcement. Multiple airlines have since relaunched nonstop flights from North America, and the country was named the sixth trendiest destination in Asia by Kayak.
The largest country by territorial expanse in South America, Brazil boasts a high degree of biodiversity and ethnic diversity like no other. Home to the Amazon jungle, an extensive Atlantic coastline interspersed with resort towns and colonial-era settlements, and of course, world-class cities like Rio and Sao Paulo, it’s easy to see how it’s a bucket list item for many.
Brazil also remained open throughout Covid, maintaining no health screening formalities at the border even after the pandemic was declared and most of Europe, Asia, and North America shut down for tourism. Interestingly, things changed drastically when vaccines became available, and they went from being extremely lax to stubbornly strict.
Unvaccinated U.S. visitors can still enter for non-essential purposes, but they must present a negative Covid test – PCR or Rapid Antigen – taken no more than 24 before boarding an international flight or crossing via land from neighboring countries. Proof of recovery in the last 90 days is accepted, too, though on-arrival testing could be carried out.
Seeing that a number of states in the Brazilian Federation have recently reimposed mask requirements across some settings, it’s hard to predict when it will finally move on from the pandemic.
Colombia is yet another sunny spot that has adopted a tougher stance following the development of Covid vaccines. Once one of the ‘freer’ countries to visit, it has now sided with Brazil in imposing tougher controls on unvaccinated Americans, and they are not alone in this: over 75% of South America has not reinstated normal entry guidelines.
Traveling to Colombia, specifically, Americans who have not completed their initial vaccination scheme of two doses, or whose second dose was given less than two weeks prior to travel, or who were not immunized at all, will only be permitted to board their flight showing proof of a negative PCR or Antigen – much like Brazil, except the testing window is wider:
Results issued up to 72 hours prior to embarkation will be accepted, though not older. It is worth noting passengers who have a short layover in Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena, or other major hubs on their way to a destination outside Colombia are not exempt from the rules: they must follow the requirements set out by authorities in order to avoid problems.
Once in Colombia, you may still have to wear face masks in certain environments depending on the mandates in force, which change based on the epidemiological scenario.
Famous for a plethora of paradisaical islands, pristine beaches bordering a turquoise-colored ocean, flavorful cuisine, Spanish colonial heritage, and the chaotic conurbation that is Manila, the vibrant capital city, the Philippines appeal to all categories of travelers, from sun-seekers and city slickers to History buffs and off-grid travel enthusiasts.
As long as they are vaccinated and can produce a valid WHO-approved immunization card at the outer border, they will be waved through unceremoniously. Failing to do so, they must have a negative Covid test in their hands, issued up to 24 hours ahead of departure. Normally, airline staff verifies the relevant documentation at the check-in desk.
In the unlikely event you find yourself flying without vaccination proof and without having undergone testing, you will be required to take a test arriving at the airport. Anyone who tests positive for Covid upon arrival could be subject to quarantine and isolation protocols as established by the Department of Health.
At this point, the Filipino Government has not given an indication as to when the remaining border measures, including that of testing applying to non-immunized individuals, will be lifted. The Philippines may be refusing to loosen curbs, but several Southeast Asian (SEA) competitors were not as conservative.
Traveling to these SEA countries below, unvaccinated Americans are not subject to testing or further health-related requirements:
*Entry rules for Thailand are subject to change without warning, as seen last week. Unvaccinated Americans must ensure they are up to date with recent developments in Thailand in order to avoid unpleasant surprises.