Travel Guidance

Traveling During the Pandemic

CDPH and the CDC recommend delaying travel until persons are fully vaccinated, because travel increases the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Travel threatens to exacerbate community spread within and beyond California —particularly because travel itself (especially the use of shared conveyances in air, bus, or rail travel) can increase a person's chance of spreading and getting COVID-19, including Sars-CoV2 variants of concern.

The CDC has come out with new guidance for traveling into the US from abroad:

  • If you plan to travel internationally, you may need to get a COVID-19 viral test (regardless of vaccination status or citizenship) no more than 1 day before you travel by air into the United States. You must show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight.  Check with airlines and desinations for guidelines and requirements.
  • If you recently recovered from COVID-19, you may instead travel with documentation of recovery from COVID-19 (i.e., your positive COVID-19 viral test result on a sample taken no more than 90 days before the flight’s departure from a foreign country and a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel).

The State of California has issued the following recommendations:

  • All travelers arriving in or returning to California from other states or countries should follow CDC travel guidance
  • All travelers who test positive or develop symptoms of COVID-19 should isolate and follow public health recommendations.
  • Fully vaccinated travelers:
    • are less likely to get and spread COVID-19, and can travel safely within the United States and California 
    • should follow CDC travel guidance, and are not required to test or quarantine before or after travel unless they have symptoms concerning for COVID-19 disease.

Non-Essential Travel of unvaccinated persons:

  1. Except in connection with essential travel, Californians should avoid non-essential travel outside of California, to other states or countries unless they are fully vaccinated. Avoiding travel reduces the risk of virus transmission, including by reducing the risk that new sources of infection and, potentially, new virus strains will be introduced to California.
  2. Non-essential travelers who are not fully vaccinated should get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before travel, and get tested 3-5 days upon arrival to their destination. They should stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel, even if their test is negative.

Things to consider if you are unvaccinated:

  • Be sure to check the entry requirements for the place you are traveling to, which may change at short notice. Good sites to check include the State Department Travel website (for international travel),  and individual state websites (for travel within the US).  You may also wish to research COVID rates at your exact destination in making your decision.  

  • Traveling by mass transit (air, train, bus, ferry) is likely to expose you to more people than you are usually around, who may not be vaccinated or have not been as careful as you, and who may be traveling from areas with higher rates of COVID than the Bay Area.  

  • Since many people with COVID have no symptoms, you may be infected without being aware and thus unwittingly infect (or be infected by) family members or others you may be around. The more you travel, the higher the risk of infection for you and for others, some of whom may be at an increased risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19.

  • Since you may become ill while traveling, be sure to double-check your health insurance covers urgent needs wherever you are going, and that your tickets are changeable/refundable.  Please do not travel -- coming or going --  if you have symptoms or have recently (< 2 weeks) been in close contact with a confirmed case.

 For additional information see the CDC COVID travel information website.