Travel Without COVID Vaccine Requirement
Much of the world has reopened at this point to vaccinated travelers. Restrictions vary considerably, but there are many places where proof of vaccination is sufficient for a test-free, quarantine-free entry. Some countries require testing in addition to vaccination. However, there are a cohort of people who, for various reasons, have not chosen to get the shot. They may be wondering: where can one travel without having the COVID vaccine? There are still some options.
Countries That Don’t Require COVID Vaccination or Negative Test
There is a very short list of countries that require neither COVID-19 vaccination nor a negative test upon arrival, nor quarantine.
You have your pick of:
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
Costa Rica requires everyone to fill out a health pass form within 72 hours of arrival; if unvaccinated, you are required to purchase insurance that covers COVID-related health expenses. Some establishments within the country may require proof of vaccination to enter, but this is at their discretion.
The Dominican Republic does not require any testing or proof of vaccination for entry, but having either will save you being randomly tested upon arrival or tested if you’re showing symptoms of illness. Everyone must fill out an electronic health form ahead of arrival.
Mexico and El Salvador have no restrictions whatsoever. You have to complete a health declaration to enter Mexico.
Countries That Don’t Require COVID Vaccination
The list of countries that you can travel to without a COVID vaccine expands greatly once you include those that require testing. Testing is usually in lieu of proof of vaccination. I’m going to omit those that require quarantine in conjunction with a test. These are likely not places people are looking to visit on without COVID vaccination. I’ve also chosen to exclude countries with especially confusing requirements, multiple testing requirements after arrival, and the like. Note that the list only address entry by air!
¹One option—These countries require a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival. Rapid antigen tests are not accepted.
²Two options—These countries require either: a negative antigen test within 48 hours of arrival or a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival. In the case of Belize, a PCR test within 96 hours will suffice.
ªTesting upon arrival—Requires testing upon arrival of some sort. See country-specific notes following the list.
ºSee country-specific notes following list.
List of countries that you can visit without COVID vaccination but with a negative test:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina¹
- Burkina Fasoº
- Cabo Verde²
- Democratic Republic of the Congo¹ª
- North Macedonia²
- South Africaº
- United Arab Emiratesº
Armenia—Requires testing upon arrival and isolation until the results come back.
The Bahamas—A health visa is required that can take a day or two to process. This makes the testing window extremely tight, as you are required to upload your results.
Belize—you can test upon arrival at a cost of $50 instead of prior to travel. The test will be administered at the airport. The requirements above are for air travel only.
Bolivia—Travelers who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 are required have another RT-PCR test taken 72 hours after arrival and must quarantine until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result. The cost of this test must be covered by the traveler.
Brazil—There is an antigen test option, but it must be done within 24 hours of boarding your flight.
Burkina Faso—A PCR test taken within 5 days of arrival is acceptable for entry. No rapid tests are accepted. If no tests is provided, a rapid COVID-19 test will be performed at the airport, at a cost of approximately $45 USD, and the passenger will be detained until results are available.
Chad—Travelers 12 years of age and older must also submit to an antigen test on arrival which may be conducted onsite at the N’Djamena Airport. The Antigen test is free.
Croatia—Unvaccinated travelers will be tested upon arrival to Croatia and must self-isolate until the results are returned.
Egypt—The test must have a QR-code.
Gabon—All arrivals are required to take a COVID-19 PCR test on arrival. This test costs about $36 and you must self-isolate until results are obtained.
Greece—There is an antigen test option, but it must be done within 24 hours before arrival.
Guinea—Arriving unvaccinated passengers will be required to submit to a COVID-19 test on arrival. Departing passengers must be tested by the National Public Health Institute at a cost of approximately $67.
Jordan—Arriving unvaccinated passengers will be required to submit to a COVID-19 test on arrival at a cost of approximately $39 and self-isolate until results come back.
Maldives—All passengers must have a valid negative PCR test result with a sample taken at most 96 hours prior to embarkation on the first flight to the Maldives. Tourists (including accompanying vaccine ineligible children) who have not completed the full dosage of vaccination, will be allowed to check-in to guest houses on local islands, if and when the following vaccination requirements are met in the guesthouse island:(a) 60% of the island’s total population have completed 14 days since receiving the full dosage of vaccination; (b) 95% of the tourism related service providers in the island have completed 14 days since receiving the full dosage of vaccination; (c) 90% of the individuals above the age of 65 (sixty-five) living in the island have completed 14 days since receiving the full dosage of vaccination. Pulled from Republic of Maldives Ministry of Health.
Mali—A PCR test taken within 5 days of arrival is acceptable for entry. No rapid tests are accepted.
Seychelles—All travelers to Seychelles must have a valid negative PCR test result of not more than 72 hours prior to travel. All visitors require a valid Health Travel Authorization for entry into Seychelles. Visitors must have valid travel & health insurance to cover potential COVID-19 related costs. Visitors may only stay at licensed establishments or liveaboards that have been certified by the Public Health Authority.
South Africa—On arrival, travelers will need to present a negative COVID-19 test result not older than 72 hours from time of departure or face quarantine. All travelers will be asked to install the COVID Alert South Africa mobile app.
Tanzania—Travelers must complete a health surveillance form. A PCR test is required that is no more than 96 hours at time of arrival to enter. Proof of COVID recovery may suffice. Travelers from high-risk countries will be required to take a rapid test at their own expense upon arrival.
United Arab Emirates—Requirements vary depending on whether you fly into Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Check out the U.S. Embassy site. You can travel without COVID vaccine to the UAE.
What About Proof Of COVID Recovery?
There are a handful of countries where proof of recovery from COVID-19 within the previous six months is sufficient to enter. This is one upside to having contracted the illness. I’ve omitted anywhere that requires quarantine, however.
Make sure you get a letter from your healthcare provider stating you recovered and are clear to travel in addition to the positive test result!
Countries you can enter with solely proof of COVID recovery:
- Albania (recovery within the previous six months)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina (recovery more than 10 days prior to travel but within past 180 days)
- Haiti (recovery period not defined)
- Ireland (recovery more than 11 days prior to travel but within 180 days)
- North Macedonia (recovery within the previous 45 days)
- Slovenia (recovery more than 10 days prior to travel but within 90 days)
- Turkey (recovery within the previous six months)
Countries that require testing in addition to proof of recovery include:
- Croatia (recovery more than 11 days prior to travel but within 365 days)
- Ethiopia (recovery within previous 90 days)
- Israel (recovery more than 11 days prior to travel but within 190 days of departure from Israel)
- Italy (recovery within previous six months)
- Montenegro (recovery within previous six months)
Ethiopia, Italy, Montenegro, require testing before departure. Typically, this is a PCR test within 72 hours before travel or antigen test within 48 hours of travel, but this varies.
Croatia and Israel require that you test upon arrival and isolate until the results come back. And you spend the whole time hoping they don’t come back positive. Israel recovery test must be a NAAT (similar to PCR test).
Testing Before Returning to the U.S.
Don’t forget about this detail. If you decide to visit Mexico for a weekend, make sure you give yourself time to arrange testing. You have to provide a proof of negative test taken within one day of return flight departure. Fortunately, there are many places where rapid antigen tests can be performed and the results provided within an hour. This was my experience when I visited Mexico last year.
Final Thoughts on Travel Without COVID Vaccine
While this isn’t an exhaustive list on the entry details of every country, it should at least give you an idea of where you can travel without COVID vaccine proof. Restrictions frequently change, so make sure you stay up to date with current restrictions and check (and re-check) requirements before you book and before you travel. They may change, and quickly. I almost got denied entry to Albania last year due to a change in requirements during my trip.
There are also various requirements and exemptions for children under 18, under 12, under 6, under 2, etc. that we did not include for the sake of clarity. This is meant to be a quick reference resource. Countries are all over the map on their requirements. Yes, I’ll end this with a pun.
We’ll do our best to routinely update the lists above.