Technical Instructions for Implementing Presidential Proclamation Advancing Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic and CDC’s Order

Applicability

These Technical Instructions implement the Presidential Proclamation titled, Advancing Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic issued on October 25, 2021 and CDC’s Order Implementing Presidential Proclamation on Advancing Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic. As directed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), including through a forthcoming security directive, airlines and other aircraft operators intending to board passengers subject to the Proclamation are required to take the measures described in the CDC Order and these Technical Instructions, including collecting and confirming certain passenger documentation and not boarding passengers without the requisite documentation.

The requirements of the Presidential Proclamation and CDC’s Order apply to noncitizen nonimmigrants, except for air crew members if such crewmembers and operators adhere to all industry standard protocols for the prevention of COVID-19 as set forth in these Technical Instructions or by the Federal Aviation Administration in coordination with the CDC.

The requirements of the Presidential Proclamation and CDC’s Order do not apply to U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, U.S. lawful permanent residents, or immigrants.

Audience

Airlines and other aircraft operators intending to board any Covered Individuals on flights from a foreign country to the United States.

Purpose

This document implements the President’s Proclamation Advancing Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic by defining key terms, providing guidance, and establishing procedures for airlines and aircraft operators transporting Covered Individuals on flights from foreign countries to the United States. These include:

  1. Reviewing documentation to establish Proof of Being Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19 by any Covered Individual as a condition for air travel to the United States from a foreign country as per the terms of the Presidential Proclamation.
  2. Confirming that any Covered Individual who does not present Proof of Being Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19 meets criteria for being an Excepted Covered Individuals as per the terms of the Presidential Proclamation and CDC’s Order.

Definitions

Persons are directed to CDC’s Order Implementing the President’s Proclamation for key definitions used in this document.

Procedures for Documenting Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination

Airlines or aircraft operators must confirm that every Covered Individual, unless excepted, has presented Proof of Being Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States from any foreign country. Airlines or aircraft operators must review each passenger’s paper or digital proof of COVID-19 vaccination to confirm:

  • the personal identifiers (full name plus at least one other identifier such as date of birth or passport number) on the proof of vaccination match the personal identifiers on the passenger’s passport or other travel identification document; AND
  • the name of official source issuing the record (e.g., public health agency, government agency, or other authorized vaccine provider) is provided; AND
  • the passenger meets CDC’s definition of Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19.

Types of Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination

Several types of documentation are acceptable for proof of COVID-19 vaccination, including verifiable (digital or paper), non-verifiable paper records, and non-verifiable digital records.

  • A verifiable vaccination record, also known as a verifiable vaccination credential, may be paper or digital and typically includes a QR code (Quick Response code) that links to information confirming the credential was generated from an immunization record in an official database and is protected from tampering. When available, verifiable records are preferred as they indicate that the verifiable credential was generated from an immunization record in an official database and that the credential is valid and legitimate.
  • A non-verifiable vaccination record is an official record of vaccination that is not digitally linked to an official database with official immunization records and protected from tampering.
    • All forms of proof of COVID-19 vaccination must have personal identifiers (full name plus at least one other identifier such as date of birth or passport number) that match the personal identifiers on the passenger’s passport or other travel documents.
    • Airlines and aircraft operators must determine when translation of documentation of vaccination is necessary for review.

Table 1. Acceptable Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination

Table 1. Acceptable Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination
Documentation Type Examples Review Process
Verifiable records (digital or paper) Vaccination certificate with QR code, 1 digital pass via Smartphone application with QR code1 (e.g., United Kingdom National Health Service COVID Pass, European Union Digital COVID Certificate)
  • Determine record was issued by an official source (e.g., public health agency, government agency, or other authorized vaccine provider) in the country where the vaccine was administered; and
  • Determine if the passenger meets CDC’s definition for fully vaccinated by reviewing vaccine product, number of vaccine doses received, date(s) of administration.
Non-verifiable paper records Printout of COVID-19 vaccination record or a COVID-19 vaccination certificate issued at national or subnational level or by an authorized vaccine provider (e.g., the CDC vaccination card)
  • Determine record was issued by an official source (e.g., public health agency, government agency, or other authorized vaccine provider) in the country where the vaccine was administered;
  • Check for evidence the record is genuine (e.g., water marks, seals, signatures, documented site of administration, documented lot number of vaccine administered); and
  • Determine if the passenger meets CDC’s definition for fully vaccinated by reviewing vaccine product, number of vaccine doses received, date(s) of administration.
Non-verifiable digital records Digital photos of vaccination card or record; downloaded vaccination record or vaccination certificate from official source (e.g., public health agency, government agency, or other authorized vaccine provider); or a mobile phone application without QR code1

1 The QR code in a verifiable vaccination record links to information confirming the credential was generated from an immunization record in an official database and is protected from tampering.

Accepted COVID-19 Vaccines

Accepted COVID-19 vaccines are those vaccines that are currently either authorized for emergency use or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or are emergency use listed (EUL) or approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) (see Table below, current as of November 3, 2021).

Table 2.  Accepted COVID-19 Vaccines

Table 2. Accepted COVID-19 Vaccines
Vaccines Approved or Authorized for Emergency Use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Vaccines Listed for Emergency Use by World Health Organization
Single dose
  • Janssen/J&J
  • Janssen/J&J
2-dose series
  • Pfizer-BioNTech
  • Moderna
  • Pfizer-BioNTech
  • Moderna
  • AstraZeneca
  • Covaxin
  • Covishield
  • BIBP/Sinopharm
  • Sinovac

Definition of Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19

Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19 means it has been:

  • 2 weeks (14 days) since a person received one dose of an accepted single-dose-series COVID-19 vaccine (e.g., Janssen/J&J); OR
  • 2 weeks (14 days) since a person’s second dose in a 2-dose series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine; OR
  • 2 weeks (14 days) since a person received the full series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine (not placebo) in a clinical trial; OR
  • 2 weeks (14 days) since a person received the full series of a Novavax (or Covovax) COVID-19 vaccine (not placebo) in a phase 3 clinical trial; OR
  • 2 weeks (14 days) since the person received 2 doses of any “mix-and-match” combination of accepted COVID-19 vaccines listed in Table 2 (above) administered at least 17 days apart. 1,2

Confirming Time Since Vaccination

A full 14 days must have passed since the day the COVID-19 vaccine series was completed. For example, if the vaccine series was completed on the first day of the month, the person is considered fully vaccinated on the 15th of that month.

Criteria for Air Crew Members to Be Considered Not Subject to the Presidential Proclamation and CDC’s Order and Procedures for Confirming Documentation

Crew members on official duty assigned by the airline or aircraft operator that involves operation of aircraft, or the positioning of crew not operating the aircraft (i.e., on “deadhead” status), are not subject to the Presidential Proclamation and CDC’s Order provided their assignment is under an air carrier’s or operator’s occupational health and safety program.

Crew members traveling for training, commuting to or from work, or for business reasons not associated with the operation of the aircraft are subject to the Presidential Proclamation and CDC’s Order. Crew traveling for personal reasons, such as leisure travel, are also subject to these requirements.

In a positioning or “deadhead” scenario, the crew member is on the “clock” and their time and movement are directed by the airline or aircraft operator either into, from, or between operational assignments. On the other hand, “commuting” to and from locations where official duty begins and ends is considered personal travel. Crew would be subject to the Presidential Proclamation and CDC’s Order when they are in a commuting status.

In order for a crew member to not be subject to the Presidential Proclamation and CDC’s Order, the airline’s or aircraft operator’s occupational health and safety program must follow industry standard protocols for the prevention of COVID-19 as set forth in relevant Safety Alerts for Operators, i.e., SAFO 20009 pdf icon[PDF – 12 pages]external icon, COVID-19: Updated Interim Occupational Health and Safety Guidance for Air Carriers and Crews, issued jointly by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and CDC.

Crew members that are not operating under an airline’s or aircraft operator’s occupational health and safety program as described above are subject to the Presidential Proclamation and CDC’s Order.

Other persons, such as maintenance personnel or contractors, would also not be subject to the Presidential Proclamation and CDC’s Order if:

  1. Their travel is for the purpose of operating the aircraft or ensuring the safety of flight operations; AND
  2. The airline or aircraft operator extends its occupational health and safety program to cover these individuals and ensures these persons follow the protocols contained in SAFO and CDC guidance.

CDC expects that airlines and aircraft operators will determine whether their employees’ travel meets the requirements to be considered not subject to the Presidential Proclamation and CDC’s Order.

Any air crew member who is a noncitizen nonimmigrant must have an official letter (paper or digital) from their employer confirming that the crew member is traveling in an official duty status if traveling for any purpose other than operating the aircraft. The letter must also specify that the crew member meets all other criteria to be considered not subject to the Presidential Proclamation and CDC’s Order as set forth above. In lieu of providing their employees with an official letter, airlines/aircraft operators may choose to list their deadheading crew on the flight’s General Declaration to satisfy CDC’s requirements. Crew members that are not listed on a flight’s General Declaration, such as other carriers’ deadheading crew, must continue to travel with an official letter from their employer. Any crew member who is a noncitizen and does not meet these criteria would be considered a Covered Individual under the Presidential Proclamation and CDC’s Order.

Airlines or aircraft operators must confirm that any crew member who is a noncitizen nonimmigrant and is traveling for any purpose other than operating the aircraft has an official letter (paper or digital) from their employer stating that the crew member is traveling in an official duty status and otherwise meets the criteria to be considered eligible to be not subject to the Presidential Proclamation and CDC’s Order.

Procedures for Confirming Documentation of Excepted Covered Individuals Who Do Not Present Proof of Being Fully Vaccinated

These technical instructions describe procedures for airlines or aircraft operators to confirm that criteria are met for the following categories of Excepted Covered Individuals:

  • Persons on diplomatic or official foreign government travel
  • Children under 18 years of age
  • Participants in certain COVID-19 vaccine trials
  • Persons with medical contraindications to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine
  • Persons issued a humanitarian or emergency exception
  • Persons with valid nonimmigrant visas (excluding B-1 [business] or B-2 [tourism] visas) who are citizens of a country with limited COVID-19 vaccine availability (Table 4)
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces or their spouses or children (under 18 years of age)
  • Sea crew members traveling pursuant to a C-1 and D nonimmigrant visa
  • Persons whose entry would be in the U.S. national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, Secretary of Transportation, or Secretary of Homeland Security (or their designees)

Diplomatic or Official Foreign Government Travel

Certain categories of persons traveling to the United States for reasons related to specific official foreign government travel or because they have been invited by the United Nations are eligible for an exception under the Proclamation and CDC’s Order. These categories are:

  • Any noncitizen seeking entry into or transiting the United States pursuant to one of the following nonimmigrant visa classifications: A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official), E-1 (as an employee of TECRO or TECO or the employee’s immediate family members), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 (or seeking to enter as a nonimmigrant in one of those NATO classifications)
  • Any noncitizen whose travel falls within the scope of section 11 of the United Nations Headquarters Agreement or other travel pursuant to U.S. legal obligation (as evidenced by a letter of invitation from the United Nations or other documentation showing the purpose of such travel).

Airlines or aircraft operators must confirm that any Covered Individual claiming this exception is:

  • Traveling on one of the visa classifications listed above; or
  • Traveling with an official letter, such as a letter from the U.S. government or foreign government. If they have been invited by the United Nations, they will need to present a letter of invitation from the United Nations or other documentation showing the purpose of such travel.

Airlines or aircraft operators must also confirm that the passenger has provided a Covered Individual Attestation.

At this time, CDC has determined excepted persons traveling for the purpose of diplomatic or official government travel are not required to complete #3 or #5 of Section 2 of the Combined Passenger Disclosure and Attestation pdf icon[PDF – 6 pages] but must complete #4 to attest that they will get a viral COVID-19 test 3-5 days after arrival, and self-isolate if the results of the test are positive or if they develop COVID-19 symptoms.

Under 18 years of Age

Airlines or aircraft operators must confirm that any Covered Individual claiming this exception is younger than 18 years of age by reviewing the date of birth listed on the passenger’s passport or other travel documents.

Airlines or aircraft operators must also confirm that the passenger has provided a Covered Individual Attestation.

Medical Contraindication to COVID-19 Vaccination

Airlines or airline operators must confirm that any Covered Individual claiming this exception has a signed letter from a licensed physician documenting a medical contraindication to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Airlines must review the letter (paper or digital copy) for the following essential elements:

  • Must be signed and dated on official letterhead that contains the name, address, and phone number of the licensed physician who signed the letter.
  • Must clearly state that the passenger has a contraindication to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. The name of the COVID-19 vaccine product and the medical condition must both be listed.
    • Medical contraindications to COVID-19 vaccination include immediate or severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) after a previous dose or known allergy to a component of a COVID-19 vaccine.
    • Objections to vaccination based on religious or moral convictions do not qualify for an exception under the Presidential Proclamation and CDC’s Order.
  • Must have sufficient personally identifiable information (full name plus at least one other identifier such as date of birth or passport number) to confirm that the person referenced in the letter matches with the passenger’s passport or other travel documents.

Airlines and aircraft operators must determine when translation of documentation of medical contraindication is necessary for their review.

Airlines and aircraft operators may, at their discretion, require medical consultation by a third party for persons requesting an exception based on a medical contraindication to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Airlines or aircraft operators must also confirm that the passenger has provided a Covered Individual Attestation.

Participants in Certain COVID-19 Vaccine Trials

Airlines and airline operators must confirm that any Covered Individual claiming this exception has official documentation (e.g., clinical trial letter, participant card, or modified vaccination card) of clinical trial participation that includes the following information:

  • Passenger has participated or is participating in a Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial with a qualifying vaccine candidate listed in Table 3 below that meets CDC criteria for the exception; AND
  • Passenger received the full series of an active (non-placebo) COVID-19 qualifying vaccine candidate, and lists name of the vaccine product and the date(s) received. See table 3 for the list of COVID-19 qualifying vaccine candidates.

If a passenger received the full series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine (non-placebo) in a clinical trial, the passenger is considered fully vaccinated. See table 2 for the list of accepted COVID-19 vaccines.

Airlines and airline operators must review the information presented by the passenger to ensure that:

  • Personal identifiers in the clinical trial documentation (full name plus at least one other identifier such as date of birth or passport number) match with the passenger’s passport or other travel documentation;
  • The name of the COVID-19 vaccine product the participant received matches with a vaccine product listed in Table 3; AND
  • Vaccine series was completed at least 2 weeks (14 days) before the flight’s departure.

Airlines or aircraft operators must also confirm that the passenger has provided a Covered Individual Attestation.

Table 3. Qualifying COVID-19 vaccine candidates that meet CDC criteria for the exception

Table 3. Qualifying COVID-19 vaccine candidates that meet CDC criteria for the exception
Manufacturer Vaccine Product(s)
CanSinoBIO Ad5-nCoV
Clover Biopharmaceuticals SCB-2019
Sinopharm/WIBP SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine (Vero Cell), Inactivated

Humanitarian or Emergency Exception

Airlines or aircraft operators must confirm that any Covered Individual claiming this exception has an official U.S. Government letter (paper or digital) documenting approval of the exception.

Airlines or aircraft operators must also confirm that the passenger has provided a Covered Individual Attestation.

Airlines or aircraft operators may advise Covered Individuals to contact the U.S. embassy or consulateexternal icon in the country where they are located for more information regarding the humanitarian or emergency exception.

Citizens of Countries with Limited COVID-19 Vaccine Availability with Non-B-1 or B-2 Nonimmigrant Visa

Airlines or aircraft operators must confirm that any Covered Individual claiming this exception has:

  • A passport issued by a foreign country with limited COVID-19 vaccine availability; and
    • A valid nonimmigrant visa that is not a B-1 or B-2 visa.

Foreign countries with limited COVID-19 vaccine availability are listed in Table 4 below. As of October 25, 2021, 51 countries have less than 10% vaccination coverage (with any vaccine). CDC will update this list every 90 days.

Airlines or aircraft operators must also confirm that the passenger has provided a Covered Individual Attestation.

Table 4. List of Foreign Countries with Limited COVID-19 Vaccine Availability (current through October 25, 2021)

Table 4. List of Foreign Countries with Limited COVID-19 Vaccine Availability (current through October 25, 2021)
Afghanistan Djibouti Liberia Sierra Leone
Algeria Egypt Libya Solomon Islands
Angola Eritrea Madagascar Somalia
Armenia Ethiopia Malawi South Sudan
Benin Gabon Mali Sudan
Burkina Faso Gambia Mozambique Syrian Arab Republic
Burundi Ghana Myanmar Togo
Cameroon Guinea Namibia Uganda
Central African Republic Guinea-Bissau Nicaragua United Republic of Tanzania
Chad Haiti Niger Vanuatu
Congo Iraq Nigeria Yemen
Cote d’Ivoire Kenya Papua New Guinea Zambia
Democratic Republic of the Congo Kiribati Senegal

Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their Spouses and Children

Airlines or aircraft operators must confirm that any Covered Individual claiming this exception has a U.S. military identification document, such as a military ID or Common Access Card (CAC) or a DEERS ID Card, or other proof of their status as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces or status as the spouse or child (under 18 years of age) of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces.

These passengers must attest to their status on the Covered Individual Attestation, but will not be required to attest to agreeing and arranging to complete the requirements of the Covered Individual Attestation.

Sea crew member traveling pursuant to a C-1 and D nonimmigrant visa

Airlines and aircraft operators must confirm that any Covered Individual claiming this exception is traveling under the appropriate nonimmigrant visa and has an official letter (paper or digital) from their employer indicating that their entry to or transit through the United States is required for the purpose of operating a vessel or return travel after disembarking the vessel consistent with their visa and official letter.

Airlines or aircraft operators must also confirm that the passenger has provided a Covered Individual Attestation.

Entry is in the U.S. national interest

Airlines and aircraft operators must confirm that any Covered Individual claiming this exception has an official U.S. Government letter (paper or digital) documenting approval of the exception.

Airlines or aircraft operators must also confirm that the passenger has provided a Covered Individual Attestation.

1 This does not imply that CDC recommends heterologous (i.e., “mix-and-match”) vaccination for the primary series and should not guide clinical practice. However, the use of this strategy is increasingly common in many foreign countries. CDC therefore recognizes this fact for purposes of the interpretation of vaccination records as needed to implement the Presidential Proclamation and CDC’s Order.

2 The recommended interval between the first and second doses of FDA-approved/authorized and WHO-EUL listed vaccines varies by vaccine type. However, for purposes of interpretation of vaccine records, the second dose in a two dose heterologous series must have been received no earlier than 17 days (21 days with a 4-day grace period) after the first dose. For more information, see Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People | CDC.