Is the World Open to American Travelers?

Know before you go: COVID-19 restrictions require more than passports, language guides

By Jeff Martinelli

Published January 11, 2021

Read Time: 2 mins


Making a checklist before travelling internationally is always a good idea. But if you’re traveling soon, your list probably will get longer.

You’ll need your passport, of course, but here are a few more items to add: a couple of handy travel websites to check, a negative COVID-19 test and extra time to quarantine before and after the trip.

Cabin fever usually heats up in January and February, but this year is especially difficult, as most of the country has been under some type of pandemic-related restrictions for almost a year.

So while pent-up demand for international travel comes as no surprise,  the number of countries Americans can travel to is at a modern-day low.

Snowbirds can still head to the warmer climates of Mexico restriction-free, but even a weekend trip north to Canada is off-limits for almost all Americans. In fact, anyone permitted to travel into Canada from foreign countries (mostly returning Canadian citizens) is required to file a quarantine plan which, if not followed, could result in a $750,000 fine and six months in jail.

Of course, there’s always Albania. As of July, anyone can travel to Albania without restrictions. But before you get out the map, keep in mind that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control lists Albania as a Level 4 Risk Assessment, meaning it’s a country where the COVID risk is very high.

Currently, the CDC lists 175 countries at Level 4, its highest ranking. Only two countries, Saint Barthelemy and Saint Lucia, are listed at Level 3, and 13 nations are at Level 2. Surprisingly, the CDC puts 44 countries at Level 1. Most of those are in Asia, Australia and the surrounding South Pacific islands.

And while the CDC lists those 44 countries as low risks, many of them consider Americans as high risk and most likely are denying entry to travelers arriving from the U.S.

According to a New York Times article published last week, just more than 50 countries permit travelers from the United States, including Brazil, Belarus, Egypt and Guam. But while Mexico and Albania have no restrictions for entry, the majority require some sort of combination of a negative test and quarantine period upon arrival.

The good news is that there are several websites that can help you navigate the rules and regulations. If you want to know if your destination is considered safe, the CDC’s website has its risk assessment. Skyscanner offers an easy-to-use interactive map that highlights the regulations for each country in relation to foreign travelers and’s site breaks destinations down by continent.

Finally, if Europe is your destination, the European Union has a lot of useful information on its special website.

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