Criteria for Recommending Federal Travel Restrictions for Public Health Purposes, Including for Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers

On March 27, 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and CDC published a Notice in the Federal Register to describe the tools the federal government has to ensure that people with serious contagious diseases that pose a public health threat do not board commercial flights or enter into the United States without a public health evaluation.

People with serious contagious diseases who travel on commercial flights can pose a risk for infection to the traveling public. In 2007, CDC and the Department of Homeland Security developed a public health Do Not Board (DNB) list. The DNB allows domestic and international public health officials to request that people with communicable diseases who meet specific criteria be restricted from boarding commercial flights that have a starting or end point in the United States. This includes domestic and international flights. Once a person is placed on the DNB list, airlines are instructed not to issue a boarding pass to the person. The person stays on the list until he/she is no longer considered to be infectious.

A Public Health Border Lookout was also created at that time to ensure that a person placed on the DNB would be detected if he or she attempts to enter the United States through any port of entry (e.g., seaport or land border crossing) or leave through an airport or seaport. The Lookout prompts Customs and Border Protection staff to notify CDC if a person on the list arrives in the United States, so that the person can be evaluated and referred for additional public health follow-up if needed.

The DNB list and Lookout have been used for people with suspected or confirmed tuberculosis (TB), including multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), and measles. Since 2020, CDC has used these authorities to restrict travel of people with COVID-19 and close contacts who are recommended to quarantine.

Travel restrictions can also be used for other suspected or confirmed communicable diseases that could pose a public health threat during travel, including viral hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola.

For specific details about these criteria, please visit the Notice in the Federal Registerexternal icon on, for more information, or to view as a PDF file PDF pdf icon[3 pages]external icon.