The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just announced, effective January 5, 2023 at 12:01 AM EST, airline passengers (two years of age and older) traveling from mainland China (Peoples Republic of China (PRC)) and the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong or Macau must provide either a negative COVID test or documentation of COVID recovery in order to travel to the United States. 

  • The requirement applies to air passengers regardless of nationality, including U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents, and vaccination status.
  • This will also apply to persons traveling from the PRC via third country transit and to passengers connecting through the United States onward to further destinations.
  • This requirement also applies to individuals boarding a flight to the United States from Incheon International Airport (South Korea), Vancouver International Airport (Canada), or Toronto Pearson International Airport (Canada) who have been in the PRC, Hong Kong, or Macau within the last 10 days and no more than two days before their departure to the United States.
  • Passengers who tested positive more than 10 days before the flight can provide documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in lieu of a negative test result.
  • Airlines must confirm the negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery for all passengers before they board or deny boarding to the passenger.

The CDC announcement does not specify whether those traveling from Hong Kong or Macau via third-country transit (other than South Korea or Canada) are also subject to the testing requirement. Nevertheless, travelers from Hong Kong and Macau should prepare to comply with the above testing requirements. The CDC notes that it will continue to monitor travel patterns and adjust the scope of the requirements as needed.

This new testing requirement does not change the ongoing requirement of proof of COVID-19 Vaccination for all nonimmigrant passengers arriving in the United States by air or via land ports of entry at the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders. The proof of vaccination requirement does not apply to U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, lawful permanent residents, or those traveling to the United States with an immigrant visa.

Squire Patton Boggs will continue to monitor and provide updates on these fast-moving developments.