Countries That Do Not Require Quarantine
What a year it has been. With COVID-19 cases on the rise, now might not seem like the best time to travel. But there are also those who have patiently been waiting all year through it all to plan their next adventure abroad. I’m not going to offer commentary on whether you should be looking to get out of the country, but I do want to provide a list of countries that do not require quarantine for American travelers.
Many other countries have strict COVID-19 policies in place that range from mandatory testing (obviously you must test negative for COVID-19), testing on arrival, and quarantine. I’m not going to go into nuance, but I will highlight the basic requirements for any country willing to let Americans enter without a mandatory period of quarantine. Quarantine has typically been for 14 days when enacted, which is longer than people’s entire vacation time, in many cases. Obviously, we want to avoid that.
Here is a short list of countries that do not require quarantine for American travelers, nor do they require COVID-19 testing:
Albania requires neither quarantine nor COVID-19 testing before arrival. International travelers are subject to health screenings, and masks are mandatory indoors in most or all of the country. International flights to Tirana resumed months ago, although do note that no U.S. airlines fly to the country. You’ll have to transit a major European hub.
Foreign nationals, including Americans, are allowed to arrive in Brazil by air. Travelers are subject to regular entry requirements. The government does advise anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to self-isolate for 15 days, but this is not mandatory. Currently, you don’t need testing prior to entry, either.
Personally, I hope Brazil doesn’t change their policy, as I have a short trip planned there early next year.
Costa Rica is now on the list of quarantine-free countries, as they removed the requirement to present a negative PCR test. You do need to fill out a health affirmation 48 hours before arrival into the country. Air travel from many locations has resumed. You will need to show proof of health insurance that covers COVID-19.
As of September 15, the DR no longer requires proof of negative PCR test to enter. Travelers are required to fill out an affirmation that they have not had COVID-19 symptoms in the previous 72 hours. Symptomatic passengers and a random sample of normal passengers will be subject to a breath test on arrival.
Mexico currently does not have any restrictions for entering the country by air. Travelers from high risk countries may be screened for coronavirus symptoms. Those showing symptoms will be quarantined. No COVID-19 testing nor 14-day quarantine is required.
Flights have resumed to Macedonia and there aren’t any restrictions for foreign nationals entering the country. Note that you’ll have to transit a European hub, as no U.S. airlines fly directly to the country.
Currently, international air arrivals into Serbia are not required to provide a negative COVID-19 test nor are subject to quarantine. However, if you’re traveling overland into Serbia from neighboring countries, you’ll need to provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 48 hours of entry. You’ll also need to fill out a health affirmation form.
Tanzania currently does not require travelers to present a negative PCR test for COVID-19 to enter the country. You only need to fill out a health affirmation. However, there are temperature checks when entering the country, and those showing symptoms of COVID-19 may be required to take a test. In this case, quarantine for up to 2 weeks may be required.
Turkey does not require either quarantine or a negative PCR test to enter the country. You will be subject to health screening, but this is little more than a temperature check (at least it was when I visited Istanbul at the beginning of September). Note that people in Turkey, at least in my brief experience in Istanbul, are rather lax about coronavirus protocols. And cases are surging right now, enough for Turkey to add some restrictions within the country.
C’mon, you know you want to see the cats of Istanbul.
Countries Requiring a Negative COVID-19 PCR Test
Here is a list of countries that do not require quarantine only if you have tested negative for COVID-19:
To avoid quarantine on arrival, you must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate taken within 7 days of arrival into the country. This test must be certified by the Bolivian consulate, which is no small hurdle.
To enter Botswana you need a medical certificate with a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of your first airline departure. The certificate must be in English. Travelers who do not have a certificate or who are symptomatic will be required to quarantine for 14 days.
Colombia is reopening, but they will be implementing a policy that required travelers to have a negative PCR test to enter. This has not yet been rolled out. I wouldn’t make plans without planning to get tested.
Travelers arriving in Ecuador can avoid quarantine by presenting a negative PCR COVID-19 test certificate performed within 10 days prior to arrival. Compared to many other countries, the testing window is pretty lax.
Note that the Galapagos are treated differently, with more stringent requirements. You’ll need a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours of arrival into the country, and you may be required to take another before heading to the Galapagos to avoid a 14-day quarantine.
Travelers from the United States must provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 96 hours of arrival into the country. Travelers must also complete a health affirmation and provide proof of health insurance that covers COVID-19.
Travelers over age 10 entering Guatemala are required to have proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival. You’ll need this form, plus a health affirmation form that you complete 24 hours prior to arrival.
Note that if you are a foreign national and fail to provide a test, you will not be allowed to enter even if you quarantine. This is just a guess, but I doubt airlines would let you board a flight to Guatemala without a valid test.
Tourists must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of your flight departure to the Maldives. You’ll also need to fill out a health affirmation and will be subject to screening on arrival. Not all of the Maldives are open. You’ll need to make sure you’re booked at a “registered tourist facility.”
São Tomé and Príncipe
Travelers entering this tiny African island nation must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival.
To enter Uganda, you must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test form taken within 72 hours of boarding the aircraft to the country. Travelers will be monitored on entry for signs of infectious disease, and any tested will be required to quarantine until results are obtained.
The list isn’t exhaustive, but it should give you an array of interesting options in case you are looking to head abroad in the next few months. I do want to note that you should print hard copies of any COVID-19 tests, as many countries request this and will not accept an electronic form.
I’m hopeful for 2021, though, that there will be far fewer countries that do not require quarantine as we put this pandemic in the rear-view mirror.