US to require essential foreign travelers to be vaccinated by January

The Biden administration will require all essential foreign travelers into the U.S. to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 22, a senior administration official said Tuesday.

The policy was previewed last month, and brings the rules for essential travel in line with nonessential travel.

"While further operational details will be released in the coming weeks, we anticipate that the operational details will be generally consistent with the approach that is already being applied to non-essential travelers," the official said.

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The administration in October announced that all nonessential foreign visitors coming into the U.S. by land and air must be fully vaccinated beginning Nov. 8. 

Officials at the time said the same vaccination requirement would be applied to essential travelers beginning in January, in order to provide a longer transition period to avoid disruptions, particularly for workers like truckers.

The Biden administration kept strict bans on nonessential travel from overseas, even as other countries have opened up their borders to fully vaccinated Americans. However, essential travel in and out of the country has continued largely unimpeded.

The Associated Press was the first to report the start date of the new policy. 

The administration initially outlined the new rules for international tourist travel in September, including a rule that unvaccinated Americans will need to provide proof of a negative coronavirus test taken no more than 24 hours prior to departure. 

There is no quarantine requirement, but airlines will collect data for enhanced contact tracing. Airlines will also be the primary enforcers for the testing and vaccination requirements.

The U.S. will accept any of the vaccines authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization even if they are not cleared in the U.S., including Russian and Chinese vaccines.