December is one of the busiest travel months of the year as people hit the road for Christmas and New Year’s. Thankfully, the travel restrictions are minimal, and it’s easy to get to long-distance destinations to visit family or go sightseeing.
United States Travel Restrictions
There are no travel restrictions within the United States and its outlying territories, such as Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents traveling abroad won’t need a return entry Covid-19 test or display proof of a coronavirus vaccine to re-enter the country.
However, two travel-related mandates can impact select groups of leisure travelers:
- Vaccine mandate: Foreign visitors can only enter the United States if they are fully vaccinated. The U.S. is one of the few countries to still have this entry requirement for non-citizens, and it isn’t going away anytime soon.
- Mask requirements: Currently, three New York City metro airports (JFK, La Guardia and Stewart International) have an indoor mask mandate. However, masking remains optional with most airlines and public transit terminals.
We may also see a return of indoor mask mandates in the coming weeks as sickness rates are high nationwide. For example, California’s Los Angeles County may re-introduce its indoor mask mandate. Be sure to bring a mask in case a public place requires one.
Canada Travel Restrictions
Canada remains open to United States residents by air and land crossing for the first Christmas travel season since the pandemic began. There are no health checks at the border crossings, and the public transportation mask mandate expired. It’s also possible for unvaccinated visitors to enter the country restriction-free.
Latin America Travel Restrictions
Fully vaccinated travelers from the United States won’t encounter any pre-arrival travel requirements to enter the various Central American and South American countries. However, unvaccinated travelers must obtain a negative pre-arrival test result to enter these nations:
Several nations continue to have indoor mask mandates.
Caribbean Travel Restrictions
The Caribbean is a pristine destination to visit this month to escape the cold temperatures of the mainland. Additionally, hurricane season is nearly complete, making extreme weather less probable.
With one notable exception, the various islands are open for tourism without getting a pre-arrival test or showing proof of vaccination. Whether you fly or cruise to your favorite destination, the travel process is similar to the pre-pandemic experience.
For December 2022, the Turks and Caicos require visitors 18 years or older to be fully vaccinated. No entry is permitted for unvaccinated tourists.
Europe Travel Restrictions
Europe is fully open for tourism to provide ample opportunity to visit the iconic Christmas markets and enjoy other cultural traditions during the season. While there are no restrictions, local mask mandates may still apply. Unfortunately, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict impedes travel to these countries.
Asia Travel Restrictions
Asia continues to be the most restrictive region for international travel. However, it’s easier to visit this part of the country as 2023 approaches than at the start of the year. For example, most nations welcome fully vaccinated guests and don’t require a pre-arrival test.
China has held the most stringent entry restrictions throughout the pandemic, but the country is starting to ease up for residents. However, a re-opening of the tourism industry and business travel is still on hold. In mid-November, the government announced that travelers could enter the country when they have a negative pre-arrival test within 48 hours before arriving.
However, a five-day quarantine period followed by three days of home isolation applies to entrants with a permanent address in China. Other visitors must quarantine for eight days.
The country is also easing travel restrictions for regional travel within China, as travelers won’t need a negative test result or a unique travel code.
Japan re-opened for tourism in October, and its entry guidelines remain constant. Visitors must either provide proof of at least three WHO-approved vaccine doses or have a negative pre-arrival test result from no more than 72 hours before traveling.
There are no entry restrictions for vaccinated travelers, but unvaccinated guests need a negative pre-arrival test.
Singapore doesn’t have entry restrictions for vaccinated visitors that can show proof of vaccination and eligible unvaccinated children. Unvaccinated travelers must have a negative pre-arrival test result and must purchase Covid-19 travel insurance.
Australia and New Zealand are open without restrictions or pre-arrival testing requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated visitors.
An end-of-year trip locally or abroad is easy to achieve as most travelers won’t have to encounter testing or quarantine requirements to celebrate Christmas or ring in the New Year. One possible hindrance that travelers should be aware of is the return of public mask mandates that may catch unprepared tourists by surprise.