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The Hardest Countries to Fly to From the US Right Now

Not every country has fully opened back up yet—and conditions apply.

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Photo of an airport
Check country requirements before you travel.
Photo: Ashim D’Silva/Unsplash

It’s been a bumpy couple of years for international travel, what with the global pandemic we’ve been living through, and while some countries have completely reopened their doors, many haven’t. Flight and vacation restrictions continue to change on a regular basis, but at the time of writing, these are the places where you can’t fly to from the US without facing moderate to severe restrictions. In most cases, these restrictions apply on top of the need to show proof of vaccination.

The entry rules and regulations set by each country are often—but not always—linked to the levels of covid-19 in its population. In other words, just because a country is going to gladly wave you through its airports doesn’t mean it’s particularly safe for you to visit in terms of the risk of catching coronavirus.


You can check on covid-19 levels on the CDC website, which shows four different categories of risk assessment (the US is level 3, or high, by the way). It’s a good idea to use this map in combination with the information that we’ve set out below to decide where you want to fly to in the near future.

If a country isn’t listed here, either you’re (at time of writing) free to travel there without any restrictions (or perhaps proof of vaccination at most), or it’s a country that doesn’t tend to attract many tourists anyway—for example, we’re assuming that most US citizens aren’t interested in traveling to Russia right now, which comes with a whole host of issues.

CDC Covid-19 Map
The CDC will tell you how widespread covid-19 is in a country.
Screenshot: CDC

Can I visit Australia right now?

Visitors to Australia from the US must have had two doses of an mRNA vaccine or one dose of a Johnson & Johnson vaccine. You also need to fill out a Digital Passenger Declaration form within 72 hours of departure. In addition, quarantining may be required on arrival, depending on where exactly you’re going: Check the rules for individual states and territories before you go, which can be found on the Australian government website.

Can I go to China right now?

While it is possible to get into China, it’s not really recommended as per the latest guidance from the US government. It’s standard practice for travelers to be put into quarantine for a minimum of 14 days, while even after that period there might be further quarantining, testing, and restrictions on movement. Lockdowns are strictly enforced, can be announced at very short notice, and can last for extended periods of time as well.


Is Japan currently accepting tourists?

You can get into Japan by air from the US, but you need to be vaccinated and there are conditions: You need to have pre-booked a package tour, you need to test negative for covid-19 within 72 hours of departure, you need to install the MySOS app to manage your clearance and declarations around covid-19, and you need to register your details on the Visit Japan Web site. You also need to have health insurance to cover covid-19 treatment.

Japan's MySOS app
A particular app is required to get into Japan.
Screenshot: Allm

Is New Zealand accepting flights?

If you’re planning to travel to New Zealand from the US, then you need to be vaccinated against covid-19 before you arrive and you need to take two rapid antigen tests (RATs) after arrival. For the vaccination, any government-approved vaccine counts, and the last dose must be at least 14 days before arrival. There’s no need to quarantine on arrival in the country and you will need to fill out a Traveler Declaration. More details can be found here.


Is Portugal under lockdown?

Most European destinations are now fully open—and don’t even require proof of vaccination in a lot of cases—but Portugal is an exception. You either need to provide documentation showing that you’ve been vaccinated, or you need to be able to produce the results of a negative covid-19 test: Either less than 72 hours before boarding for PCR/NAAT tests or less than 24 hours before boarding for Rapid Antigen or TRAg tests.


Can I go to Qatar?

If you’re looking to get to Qatar—for the upcoming soccer world cup, perhaps—then you need to register your details online before you travel. You also need to provide evidence of vaccination and of a negative covid-19 test, details for both of which can be found here. Note that some quarantining and testing may be required if you’re flying to Qatar from the US via a different country that’s been put on the red list for its current health status.

Qatar travel registration page
You need to register your details if you’re heading to Qatar.
Screenshot: Government of Qatar

Is South Korea Taking US Travelers?

There is a bit of admin to go through if you’re planning to fly to South Korea from the US: You need proof of full vaccination, including a booster shot if more than 180 days have passed since the vaccine was administered. You also need to register your details, show a negative result for a RAT or PCR test, and take a PCR test within three days of arrival. There are some other caveats and conditions to consider on top of that: the details are here.


Can Americans visit Taiwan?

US citizens are permitted to enter Taiwan, but the country still has a quarantine system in place. Your movements will be restricted to one location of your choice for three days, and you will be required to purchase a local SIM card so that the authorities can see where you are until the quarantine period has finished. In addition, you must present evidence of vaccination and a negative covid-19 PCR test (within the last two days) to gain entry.


Are Trinidad and Tobago Vacations Allowed?

You no longer have to show evidence of vaccination to get into Trinidad and Tobago, but you do need to show the negative result of a PCR or RAT test taken within the last 48 hours. If you can’t provide such a test result, then you’ll need to enter state-supervised quarantine conditions—at your own cost by the way—until you do register a negative test result (so it’s probably best to just get your test sorted before you make the journey).